“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.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Sideline: Greek Islands and Me

You’ll excuse me diverting away from the usual fare on Crime Always Pays, I hope, but I stumbled across this fabulous photograph of the Greek island of Monemvasia on the Huffington Post’s Travel section this morning – I’ve never been to Monemvasia, but there was a certain shock of recognition, given that it strongly resembles (in my mind at least) the fictional island of Delphi, in Donegal’s Lough Swilly, where I set a goodly chunk of my spy thriller THE LOST AND THE BLIND (Severn House). To wit:
Once we’d crossed the central channel, we began curving sharply around to the south, the ferry picking up speed as we ran with the current and came around parallel to Delphi’s western shore. The coastline was unforgiving, a high rocky bluff crowned with thick forest, and I began to wonder if we’d need to anchor off-shore and take a tender to the island. Then, as we were passing a stubby promontory, the pilot pulled a ferry’s equivalent of a handbrake turn, throwing the wheel over and dragging a dull bellow of protest out the engines as he rammed them into reverse. For a moment we hung suspended in the current and then we slid easily into a tiny horseshoe bay surrounded on three sides by sheer cliff. The harbour was so calm that for a second or two, as we steamed towards the village tucked into a crevice in the cliffs, I believed we were going to ram the outlying buildings. It wasn’t until the first few houses began to waver and dance that I realized they were a reflection, the mirror-still surface unsettled by the wake pushed out under our prow ...
  Kee rolled the car down on to terra firma, up on to the pier. There she paused. On our left, tucked in under the sheer headland, was a large car park sparsely populated by cars, some of them under tied-down canvas coverings, along with a couple of small trucks and a handful of camper vans. At its entrance we found a topographical map informing us that Delphi boasted no more than a single road that was navigable by car, which encircled the island and hugged the coast all the way round. Otherwise the interior was essentially a steep-sloped pine-covered mountain accessible only by footpaths and hiking trails, with a single donkey path leading straight up from the rear of the village to a viewing point high on the cliffs above …
  For more on Monemvasia, clickety-click here.
  For more on THE LOST AND THE BLIND, clickety-click here.

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