“Burke shows again that he’s not just a comic genius, but also a fine dramatic writer and storyteller.” – Booklist. “Prose both scabrous and poetic.” – Publishers Weekly. “Proust meets Chandler over a pint of Guinness.” – Spectator. “Among the most memorable books of the year, of any genre.” – Sunday Times. “A hardboiled delight.” – Guardian. “Imagine Donald Westlake and Richard Stark collaborating on a screwball noir.” – Kirkus Reviews. “A cross between Raymond Chandler and Flann O’Brien.” – John Banville.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Stranger Danger

Jane Casey has been a busy woman over the last 12 months. She’s published the Maeve Kerrigan thriller THE LAST GIRL, a YA novel called HOW TO FALL, and she will publish another Maeve Kerrigan title, THE STRANGER YOU KNOW (Ebury Press), on July 4th. Crikey. Quoth the blurb elves:
He meets women.

He gains their trust.

He kills them.

That’s all Maeve Kerrigan knows about the man she is hunting. Three women have been strangled in their homes by the same sadistic killer. With no sign of a break-in, every indication shows that they let him in.

But the evidence is pointing at a shocking suspect: DI Josh Derwent, Maeve’s colleague. Maeve refuses to believe he could be involved, but how well does she really know him? Because this isn’t the first time Derwent’s been accused of murder.
  So there you have it. Jane Casey has been twice shortlisted for the Irish Book Awards for her Maeve Kerrigan novels. Perhaps THE STRANGER YOU KNOW will be the one to nudge her all the way to the top of the pile …

Friday, March 29, 2013

The Ghosts Of Charlie Parker Past

Here’s an interesting innovation, and a very savvy use of the e-format. THE CHARLIE PARKER COLLECTION 1 (Hodder & Stoughton) brings together John Connolly’s first four Charlie Parker novels as an e-bundle omnibus edition, at the very attractive (UK) price of £7.99. To wit:
Former NYPD Charlie Parker first appears in EVERY DEAD THING on a quest for the killer of his wife and daughter. He is a man consumed by violence, guilt and the desire for revenge. When his ex-partner asks him to track down a missing girl, Parker embarks on a grim odyssey through the bowels of organised crime to a unique serial killer: The Travelling Man.

In DARK HOLLOW, Private detective Charlie Parker embarks on a nerve-shredding manhunt and closes in on his prime suspect. But someone else is tracking them both.

Parker’s empathy with the powerless victims of crime is growing ever stronger. It makes him a natural choice to investigate the death of Grace Peltier in THE KILLING KIND - a death that appears to be a suicide. Genial killers Angel and Louis join Parker again as he descends into a honeycomb world populated by dark angels and lost souls.

In THE WHITE ROAD, a black youth faces the death penalty for rape and murder; his victim, the daughter of one of the wealthiest men in South Carolina. It is a case with its roots in old evil, and old evil is Charlie Parker’s speciality. Evil men from his past unite to exact a terrible revenge on the private detective.
  Naturally, the next four titles (THE BLACK ANGEL, THE UNQUIET, THE REAPERS, THE LOVERS) are also available in – you guessed it! – THE CHARLIE PARKER COLLECTION 2, also at £7.99.
  In literary terms, that right there is the bargain of the year. You know what to do, people …

Thursday, March 28, 2013

“There Was A Young Man Called Bill Ryan …”

William Ryan, the author of the Captain Korolev series of novels, will be leading a creative writing workshop in the Limerick Writers’ Centre on May 25th. Not a workshop on how to write limericks, you understand – the emphasis will be on developing characters for fiction, and the workshop will cost you the princely sum of five euros. Sounds like a bargain to me.
  If I’m not very much mistaken, as I very often am, the workshop will coincide with the Limerick launch of William Ryan’s latest tome, THE TWELFTH DEPARTMENT (Mantle), which is published on May 23rd. Quoth the blurb elves:
Moscow, 1937. Captain Korolev, a police investigator, is enjoying a long-overdue visit from his young son Yuri when an eminent scientist is shot dead within sight of the Kremlin and Korolev is ordered to find the killer. It soon emerges that the victim, a man who it appears would stop at nothing to fulfil his ambitions, was engaged in research of great interest to those at the very top ranks of Soviet power. When another scientist is brutally murdered, and evidence of the professors’ dark experiments is hastily removed, Korolev begins to realise that, along with having a difficult case to solve, he’s caught in a dangerous battle between two warring factions of the NKVD. And then his son Yuri goes missing . . . A desperate race against time, set against a city gripped by Stalin’s Great Terror and teeming with spies, street children and Thieves, THE TWELFTH DEPARTMENT confirms William Ryan as one of the most compelling historical crime novelists at work today.
  Meanwhile, William Ryan and I had a very enjoyable conversation on the business of writing in the last couple of weeks, the result of which has been posted at Shotsmag and the Mystery Tribune. To wit:
“There’s a bigger issue at play here too, and it taps into your question about ‘being Irish’. I was born and raised in Sligo in the Northwest of Ireland, but my cultural experiences growing up were American movies and books, British books and music, and football, European movies, Dutch beer … all these things, and more, were as important in forming my appreciation of culture as any and all of the Irish elements. And if I’m going to write, and be true to my experience of what brought me to the point where I want to write, then I’d be a hypocrite not to include, or at least acknowledge, those influences. That’s why EIGHTBALL BOOGIE (and to a lesser extent its sequel, SLAUGHTER’S HOUND) is so heavily influenced by Raymond Chandler in particular, and the American hardboiled novel in general. Why THE BIG O is influenced by Elmore Leonard and Carl Hiaasen and Barry Gifford.
  “I don’t know, maybe it has something to do with living in a post-colonial country. Ireland has been overlaid with any number of cultures over the past thousand years, and more. And then there’s the fact that emigration has played such an important part in Irish history, and that emigrants bring back all these cultural artefacts and incorporate them into the mix. Do we even know what ‘being Irish’ means?”
  For the rest, clickety-click on Shotsmag or Mystery Tribune.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Full Monto

I received an interesting email yesterday, the gist of which ran like this:
“I’m a PhD student at Queen’s University Belfast, researching prostitution in modern Irish literature. I’m hoping to write a chapter of my thesis on crime fiction, and I was wondering if you’d be able to give me any reading suggestions for Irish crime fiction books with prostitutes in them?”
  The student had already identified Stuart Neville’s STOLEN SOULS and Arlene Hunt’s VICIOUS CIRCLE, along with Liam O’Flaherty’s THE INFORMER and THE ASSASSIN for background. After taking a good long look at the Irish crime fiction shelves, about all I was able to add to the list was Niamh O’Connor’s TAKEN, which – if memory serves – features an escort model.
  That set me wondering as to why prostitution hasn’t featured more frequently in Irish crime writing. A hangover from an unusually puritanical Catholicism? I really don’t know. Anyway, if anyone out there has any reading suggestions for the PhD student, I’d be very grateful if you’d send them on, either via the comment box below or by email. Thanks in advance, folks.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Turn Of The Screwed

There’s a touch of the old log-roll about today’s post, given that Eoin Colfer was kind enough to say nice things about THE BIG O last week, so I won’t say anything nice at all about his latest adult crime tome, SCREWED (Headline), which will be published on May 9th. The follow-up to PLUGGED, it sounds a lot like this:
Dan McEvoy doesn’t set out to get into violent confrontations with New Jersey’s gangster overlords but he’s long since found that once you’re on their radar, there’s only one way to slip off it. So he’s learned his own way to fight back, aiming to outwit rather than kill unless he really has no choice. But when Dan’s glam step-gran Edit shows up on the hunt for his dishevelled aunt Evelyn, it quickly becomes clear that family can provide the deadliest threat of all. In a city of gun-happy criminals, bent cops and a tough-talking woman detective whose inspires terror and lust in equal measure, Dan may just have reached the point where sharp wit won’t cut the mustard. But can he play the heavies at their own game?
  For a review of PLUGGED, clickety-click here.
  For an interview with Eoin Colfer to mark the publication of the final Artemis Fowl novel (‘Cometh the Hour, Cometh the Fowl’), clickety-click here.

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Cuirt Is Now In Session

Galway’s Cuirt Festival takes place next month, from the 23rd to the 28th of April, with its usual eclectic mix of writers, poets and dramatists taking part. Of chief interest to Irish crime fans – and European crime fans – will be the panel featuring Stuart Neville, Arne Dahl and Antti Tuomainen, which takes place at the Town Hall at 6.30pm on Saturday 27th. The panel will be hosted by Arlene Hunt, and you can find all the details here.
  Meanwhile, Stuart Neville will be giving a two-hour Crime Writing Workshop on the morning of Saturday 27th, focusing on plot and character, their connectivity and dependency. You may want to book early for this one; you’ll also need to send a CV and a short covering letter as part of your application. For all the details, clickety-click here.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Past Is Another Kind Of Country

The title might lead you to believe – as it did me – that Kevin Brophy’s THE BERLIN CROSSING (2012) is a spy novel, but while the story did employ some of the tropes of that genre, it was clear on reading it that Kevin Brophy had other ambitions too.
  That also appears to be the case with Brophy’s latest offering, ANOTHER KIND OF COUNTRY (Headline Review). To wit:
Santiago, 1973: Rosa is a happy girl, living a privileged life amongst the ruling elite. But when violence erupts with the Pinochet coup, her socialist parents are the first to be taken. Forced to flee across the Andes, she finds herself rescued by a Stasi spy, and escapes behind the Iron Curtain to Germany.

East Berlin, 1989: Englishman Patrick Miller has crossed over and is working at the Secretariat for Socialist Correctness in Publishing. Dragged into a dangerous, cynical world of shady dealings on both sides of the Wall, Patrick doesn’t know what he believes in anymore. Until he meets Rosa ...

Separate currents of the twentieth century have washed Patrick and Rosa up in a divided city that despite everything they’ve both come to love. As the Soviet Union starts to break up around them, the tide of change is too strong for even the much feared Stasi to hold back. But once the barriers are down and the rubble cleared, what kind of country will they be left with?
  For a review of THE BERLIN CROSSING, clickety-click here.
  For a review of ANOTHER KIND OF COUNTRY, clickety-click here.