“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.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Black On Blonde

If I ever got dumped on a desert island, and was allowed to bring only one writer’s books with me, that writer would be Raymond Chandler. So I’ve been looking forward to Benjamin ‘Benny Blanco’ Black’s new Philip Marlowe novel, THE BLACK EYED BLONDE (Mantle), for about a year now. Quoth the blurb elves:
“Maybe it was time I forgot about Nico Peterson, and his sister, and the Cahuilla Club, and Clare Cavendish. Clare? The rest would be easy to put out of my mind, but not the black-eyed blonde . . .”
  It is the early 1950s. In Los Angeles, private detective Philip Marlowe is as restless and lonely as ever, and business is a little slow. Then a new client arrives: young, beautiful, and expensively dressed, Clare Cavendish wants Marlowe to find her former lover, a man named Nico Peterson. Soon Marlowe will find himself not only under the spell of the Black Eyed Blonde; but tangling with one of Bay City’s richest families – and developing a singular appreciation for how far they will go to protect their fortune . . .
  In this gripping and deeply evocative crime novel, Benjamin Black returns us to the dark, mesmerising world of Raymond Chandler’s THE LONG GOODBYE and his singular detective Philip Marlowe; one of the most iconic and enduringly popular detectives in crime fiction.
  For all the details, clickety-click here

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Mum’s The Word

Another Irish crime fiction debut to watch for in 2014 is Sinead Crowley’s CAN ANYBODY HELP ME? (Quercus), which will be published in May. To wit:
It was crazy really, she had never met the woman, had no idea of her real name but she thought of her as a friend. Or, at least, the closest thing she had to a friend in Dublin.
  Struggling with a new baby, Yvonne turns to netmammy, an online forum for mothers, for support. Drawn into a world of new friends, she spends increasing amounts of time online and volunteers more and more information about herself.
  When one of her new friends goes offline, Yvonne thinks something is wrong, but dismisses her fears. After all, does she really know this woman?
  But when the body of a young woman with striking similarities to Yvonne’s missing friend is found, Yvonne realises that they’re all in terrifying danger. Can she persuade Sergeant Claire Boyle, herself about to go on maternity leave, to take her fears seriously?
  For all the details, clickety-click here

Sunday, January 12, 2014

“Ya Wanna Do It Here Or Down The Station, Punk?” John Lawton

Yep, it’s rubber-hose time, folks: a rapid-fire Q&A for those shifty-looking usual suspects ...

What crime novel would you most like to have written?
THE LAWS OF OUR FATHERS by Scott Turow. One of the few novels about us old hippies that is worth your time.

What fictional character would you most like to have been?
Barbarella.

Who do you read for guilty pleasures?
Zoe Sharp … levels of shit-kicking violence that I cannot emulate and urban street-grot that make me want to live up a mountain in wilderness.

Most satisfying writing moment?
Sitting on a doorstep in Bloomsbury circa 1994 waiting for a 38 bus to Islington, armed only with a pencil and a receipt for a garden hose. A page sprang fully-formed into me head and having nowt else to write on I jotted it down on the back of the receipt. Then I thought ‘what da fukk do I do with this?’ It became the final page of OLD FLAMES and I changed not a word. Arsy and versy might apply, but a good moment all the same.

If you could recommend one Irish crime novel, what would it be?
I’m go to be very old-fashioned and betray all my contemporaries by saying THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GREY by Oscar Wilde. It must be one of the most influential tales ever written and perhaps the most invoked allusion.

What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?
Alas I know zilch about modern cinema and go about once a year. I emerge sea-sick from the pace of things, wondering if I have seen The Hobbit Part XIII, Carry On Captain Sparrow or Iron Man on the Planet of the Apes. Can I cop out and say, “Whatever Martin McDonagh decides to film next” … ?

Worst / best thing about being a writer?
The Best Thing has to be just the doing of it, the act of writing. The Worst Thing is definitely dealing with the question I get asked most often … “Why did you never write another novel after BLACK OUT?”

The pitch for your next book is …?
Troy is back … younger, smaller … just as insufferable.

Who are you reading right now?
Volume 4 of Robert Caro’s THE LIVES OF LYNDON JOHNSON: 1960-64. A bit of a cheat as I have not read Vol. 3 and only bits of 1 & 2.

God appears and says you can only write OR read. Which would it be?
Oh … I’d rather be dead than make that choice. I’d say return me to star dust and zaps of interstellar carbon.

The three best words to describe your own writing are …?
‘Could do better’ … exactly as it said on my school reports 55 years ago. I hate to think the old bastards who pretended to teach me were right. They were a bad-mannered bunch of fascists with no respect for anyone, and violent tendencies that would see them in the lock-up ward of a loony bin these days … but I cannot deny the insight. Fukkem.

John Lawton’s THEN WE TAKE BERLIN is published by Grove Press.