“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.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

On Milestones, Bargains And The Future Of Irish Crime Fiction

I mentioned last week that the Crime Always Pays blog was about to pass the 1,000,000 point for page views, which is a milestone of sorts that I’d like to mark. Of course, the whole point of this blog is to bring to readers’ attention new and interesting Irish crime writing, my own included. In that spirit, I’d like to refer to you this post on the Irish crime novels of the year, and also point out that the e-book versions of my novels are retailing at the recession-busting price of $2.99 / £2.50 for the month of July.
  If said spirit moves you to mention this on Twitter, Facebook et al (all you need do is click the buttons beneath this post), I’d be very grateful indeed …
THE BIG O $2.99 / £2.50
“Imagine Donald Westlake and his alter ego Richard Stark moving to Ireland and collaborating on a screwball noir and you have some idea of Burke’s accomplishment.” – Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

EIGHTBALL BOOGIE $2.99 / £2.50
“I have seen the future of Irish crime fiction and it’s called Declan Burke. Here is talent writ large - mesmerizing, literate, smart and gripping. If there is such an animal as the literary crime novel, then this is it. But as a compelling crime novel, it is so far ahead of anything being produced, that at last my hopes for crime fiction are renewed. I can’t wait to read his next novel.” - Ken Bruen

ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL $2.99 / £2.50
Winner of the Crimefest 2012 Goldsboro ‘Last Laugh’ Award. “Among the most memorable books of the year, of any genre, was Declan Burke’s ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL ... a fiendishly dark thriller that evokes the best of Flann O’Brien and Bret Easton Ellis.” – Sunday Times

SLAUGHTER’S HOUND $2.99 / £2.50
“Many writers of crime fiction are drawn to the streetwise narrator with the wisecracking voice – Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett have a lot to answer for – but only a handful can make it credible and funny. Irish writer Burke is one who has succeeded spectacularly well … From the arresting opening image to the unexpected twist at the end, this is a hardboiled delight.” – The Guardian

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

A Tangled Web He Weaves

Writing a great book is only half the battle; getting it noticed is just as tough, if not tougher. Laurence O’Bryan, author of THE JERUSALEM PUZZLE, will be running a one-day course on social media for writers at the Irish Writers Centre next week, with the details running thusly:
Getting Your Writing Noticed Using Social Media
with Laurence O’Bryan

Saturday, 20th July
10.30am-4.30pm €80/70 members
One-Day course
Facilitator: Laurence O’Bryan, author THE ISTANBUL PUZZLE, shortlisted for Irish crime novel of 2012 at the Irish book awards. Laurence has over 100,000 followers around the world and three blogs including www.socialmedia4writers.com
  For more, clickety-click here

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

A Good Bad Review

I stumbled across a review of SLAUGHTER’S HOUND the other day, one which I remember reading shortly after the book was published last year. It was in the Irish Independent, and I remember being irked by one aspect of it, although at the time it was all incredibly busy both professionally and personally and I didn’t get the time to address said issue.
  In general it’s fair to say, I think, that the gist of the review was a thumb’s down. For starters, the reviewer was less than impressed by the hardboiled narrator’s bona fides:
“In the much-imitated tradition of Raymond Chandler, Harry [Rigby]’s the book’s narrator and this poses a problem because, unlike Chandler’s Philip Marlowe, who embodies a moral code to match his tough-guy exterior, Harry’s just as much of a thug as most of the lowlifes he confronts and thus his railings against the greed and iniquities of contemporary Ireland register as an authorial intervention rather than as the expression of believable character.
  “And the same goes for the cultural name-dropping that recurs throughout. It’s to be severely doubted that this ultra-violent hard man, who thinks nothing of gouging out someone’s eyeball, would effortlessly name-check Marx, Engels, Jackson Pollock and William Gaddis, while also quoting Hopkins and Yeats, airily referring to “Joycean fabulists”, deeming something to be “a metaphysical gambit bordering on the Cartesian” and advising a scheming matriarch to “brush up on your Milton”.
  To which I can only reply, in time-honoured faux-Flaubertian fashion – try saying that three times after a jigger of rum – ‘Harry Rigby, c’est moi.’
  The review climaxes thusly:
“The result is as bleak a picture of contemporary Ireland as you’ll encounter -- though undermined by the reader’s sense that the author has nothing interesting to say about such an Ireland and that it’s all merely being served up for lurid thrills. On that level, the book is brutally efficient.”
  All of which, of course, is fair comment. Every reviewer is as entitled to his or her opinion as I am when I’m reviewing books or movies, and bad reviews are all part of the gig.
  But the bit I took issue with refers, in the context of Harry being a ‘horrible human being’ to “the abuse [Harry] had just meted out to his ex-partner and to the troubled son he professed to care about.”
  ‘Abuse’ is a loaded word these days, and could easily be interpreted as domestic, physical, psychological or even sexual abuse; it was irritating that such a potentially loaded word was simply dropped in with no context. Harry Rigby is no one’s ideal of a perfect man, but the ‘abuse’ he gives his ex-partner Denise comes in arguments in which they both try to score points by re-opening old wounds, an exercise in which Harry comes off a very poor second-best. Certainly Harry could be accused of emotional neglect of his son, Ben, and certainly emotional neglect is a form of abuse; although it’s worth pointing out, I think, that most of the narrative thrust of SLAUGHTER’S HOUND is bound up with Harry’s attempts to make good on that neglect.
  Having said all that, I got a nice bang out of reading the review the second time around, mainly for the line, “the author has nothing interesting to say about such an Ireland and that it’s all merely being served up for lurid thrills.”
  I don’t believe that all Irish crime fiction should say something ‘interesting’ about the Ireland of today, of course, but I do believe that all fiction should be judged by the same standard across the board, regardless of its genre – in other words, a book is either interesting or it’s not; it’s good or it’s not. The best thing any reviewer can do for a writer – not for the writer’s sales, or the writer’s ego, and so forth, but the best thing for the writer – is for a reviewer to take a writer’s book seriously, and review it in a serious fashion. On that level – the sloppiness of the ‘abuse’ reference aside – the review was brutally efficient, and very pleasing indeed.

Monday, July 8, 2013

And So To Derry

Here’s one for the diary, folks. Brian McGilloway (pictured right, with Uncle Travelling Rozovsky alongside) will play the genial host for a rather interesting crime fiction gathering at a City of Culture event in Derry next November. Quoth Brian:
“I’m currently working on a Crime weekend for Derry, Nov 1st-3rd as part of City of Culture 2013. Guests confirmed include Lee Child, Ann Cleeves, Colin Bateman, Stuart Neville, Arlene Hunt, Alan Glynn, Paul Charles, Garbhan Downey, Claire McGowan, Declan Burke and William Ryan, with more to follow. I’ll post further details closer to the time.”
  For all the details and updates, stay tuned to Brian’s Facebook page

Sunday, July 7, 2013

“But When You Said We’d Scoop The Pot, I Thought …”

I don’t often feature teapots on Crime Always Pays, particularly as I’m a coffee man, but I’m rather fond of this particular teapot, which arrived in the post last week from the good people at Malice Domestic. It celebrates the Agatha Award for Best Non-Fiction 2012 for BOOKS TO DIE FOR (ed. John Connolly and Declan Burke), with which we’re all very well pleased.
  Meanwhile, BTDF has been shortlisted for two further awards, both of which will be announced at the Albany Bouchercon in October. To wit:
Macavity Award Best Mystery Non-Fiction Nominations:
Books to Die For: The World’s Greatest Mystery Writers on the World’s Greatest Mystery Novels, edited by John Connolly and Declan Burke (Simon & Schuster - Atria/Emily Bestler)
Midnight in Peking: How the Murder of a Young Englishwoman Haunted the Last Days of Old China by Paul French (Penguin)
In Pursuit of Spenser: Mystery Writers on Robert B. Parker and the Creation of an American Hero, edited by Otto Penzler (BenBella/Smart Pop)

Anthony Award: BEST CRITICAL NON-FICTION WORK
Books to Die For: The World’s Greatest Mystery Writers on the World’s Greatest Mystery Novels - John Connolly and Declan Burke, eds. [Hodder & Stoughton/Emily Bestler]
Blood Relations: The Selected Letters of Ellery Queen, 1947-1950 - Joseph Goodrich, ed. [Perfect Crime]
More Forensics and Fiction: Crime Writers Morbidly Curious Questions Expertly Answered - D.P. Lyle, M.D. [Medallion]
The Grand Tour: Around the World with the Queen of Mystery Agatha Christie - Mathew Prichard, ed. [Harper]
In Pursuit of Spenser: Mystery Writers on Robert B. Parker and the Creation of an American Hero - Otto Penzler, ed. [Smart Pop]
  That’s very fine company we’re keeping there, but hopefully we’ll be having a cup or two of Darjeeling to celebrate come Boucheron …