“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, March 27, 2015

Publication: The US release of THE LOST AND THE BLIND by Declan Burke

I’m heading off on holidays in the next couple of days, which is nice, although it does mean that I’ll be away from the desk when THE LOST AND THE BLIND (Severn House) gets its official US release, on April 1st [insert your own April Fool gags here]. Quoth the blurb elves:
This gripping Irish thriller is an intriguing new departure for comic noir writer Declan Burke.
  “A dying man, if he is any kind of man, will live beyond the law.” The elderly German, Karl Uxkull, was senile or desperate for attention. Why else would he concoct a tale of Nazi atrocity on the remote island of Delphi, off the coast of Donegal? And why now, 60 years after the event, just when Irish-American billionaire Shay Govern has tendered for a prospecting licence for gold in Lough Swilly? Journalist Tom Noone doesn’t want to know. With his young daughter Emily to provide for, and a ghost-writing commission on Shay Govern’s autobiography to deliver, the timing is all wrong. Besides, can it be mere coincidence that Karl Uxkull's tale bears a strong resemblance to the first thriller published by legendary spy novelist Sebastian Devereaux, the reclusive English author who has spent the past 50 years holed up on Delphi? But when a body is discovered drowned, Tom and Emily find themselves running for their lives, in pursuit of the truth that is their only hope of survival.
  So there you have it. The early word has been quite positive, I’m delighted (and, as always, relieved) to say. To wit:
“Burke shows again that he’s not just a comic genius, but also a fine dramatic writer and storyteller.” – Booklist

“There’s much, much more, and readers with the patience to watch as Burke (Crime Always Pays, 2014, etc.) peels back layer after layer will be rewarded with an unholy Chinese box of a thriller. Make that an Irish-German box.” – Kirkus Reviews

“In “The Lost and the Blind,” Declan Burke weaves plot twist after plot twist together to create a thriller full of mystery and intrigue … Not many authors are capable of successfully pulling off such a complex plot, but Burke does and makes it seem effortless.” – Library Thing
  If that sounds like your kind of book, you can find THE LOST AND THE BLIND here. I thank you for your consideration …

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Review: John Banville on Georges Simenon’s THE BLUE ROOM

John Banville had a fine piece in last weekend’s Irish Times, in which he reviewed Georges Simenon’s THE BLUE ROOM, which has just been republished by Penguin Classics. Sample quote:
“Like all writers he wrote for himself, but before and after writing he had a lively sense of his audience: he wrote for everyone, and anyone can read him, with ease and full understanding. Not for him the prolixity of Joyce or the exquisite nuances of Henry James. This is what Roland Barthes called “writing degree zero”, cool, controlled and throbbing with passion.”
  For the rest, clickety-click here

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Event: ‘Irish Noir’ at Harrogate

The Harrogate festival – wisely, in my opinion – corral almost all of the appearing Irish writers onto one panel this year, as Stuart Neville, Steve Cavanagh, Brian McGilloway, Adrian McKinty and Eoin McNamee take to the stage under the banner of ‘Irish Noir’ (William Ryan also appears at Harrogate, albeit on a different panel). The festival runs from July 16 to 19, with the Irish Noir event taking place at noon on Friday 17th. The very, very best of luck to whatever unfortunate is scheduled to moderate that particular panel …
  Elsewhere, a couple of stand-out highlights of the festival include Val McDermid interviewing Sara Paretsky, and Arnaldur Indridason interviewed by Barry Forshaw.
  For all the details, clickety-click here

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

“Ya Wanna Do It Here Or Down The Station, Punk?” Richard Beard

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?

I love the Robert B. Parker Spenser novels (‘you remember more stuff that doesn’t make you money than anyone I know’). I’m also a big fan of the Australian crime writer Peter Temple. My favourite of his has to be The Fatal Shore, and if I were Australian and utterly brilliant, that’s the novel I’d like to have written.

What fictional character would you most like to have been?

Ah, I know the answer to this one - not anyone realistic. Otherwise I could become that person in real life. I’d like to be someone so obviously fictional that I’d live an entirely novel experience. Maybe one of the characters from The Da Vinci Code, though none of the ones that get killed (though how would it feel to be killed, if I were fictional?)

Who do you read for guilty pleasures?

Most writers will tell you, a little righteously, that no reading should feel guilty. I’m not among them. When nothing else hits the spot I go to the library and take out a celebrity biography. I’m a sucker for the rags (not always that raggy) to riches (usually surprisingly rich). Recent under-the-cover reads have included Chris Evans and Alex James. But like McDonalds, one is enough for a while.

Most satisfying writing moment?

There comes a time towards the end of writing a novel when it feels as if the plane is coming into land. The effort of getting this unwieldy contraption off the ground, then finding a destination, then managing the fuel (add other flying metaphors to taste) is almost at an end. Now there are small tweaks that can make significant improvements, and my fingers feel the music in the keyboard. I’m overcome by a physical sense of elation. The euphoria doesn’t last, but that’s the best bit.

If you could recommend one Irish crime novel, what would it be?

This feels the wrong way round – Crime Always Pays should be recommending Irish crime novels to me. I’m pretty up to speed on the brilliant Stuart Neville, and would recommend him to anyone who enjoys a bit of finely-crafted mayhem.

What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?

Kevin Barry’s City of Bohane, with its dapper gangsters and eternal grudges, has to count as a crime novel (among other possible classifications). And even though the rhythms of the language are one of the great pleasures of the Kevin Barry reading experience, the world he creates is intensely visual. He writes a future in techni-colour, and a daring film-maker who could combine the Bohane plot with a cinematic equivalent to Barry’s language could make a film like no other.

Worst / best thing about being a writer?

I like being in charge of my own time, when I am. Not so keen on the anxiety, but mustn’t grumble.

The pitch for your next book is …?

Italian-born Claudia Moretti, as she approaches retirement as a state-employed Speculator, is assigned to Messiah Watch. In particular, she responds to reports of cults where the leader claims to be immortal - from experience the government knows that immortality is trouble. There’s an easy way to refute the claim to immortality, but when Claudia is sent to small town Ephesus in bible-belt Georgia, nothing is quite as it seems.

Acts of the Assassins is the second book in a trilogy, following Lazarus is Dead. This is a ‘trilogy’ in a very loose sense – all three books are self-contained. At the end of Acts of the Assassins all the disciples are dead, except John. This is his story. (Which doesn’t yet have a title – suggestions welcome).

Who are you reading right now?

I’m reading a Bible commentary by Richard Bauckham called The Theology of the Book of Revelation, and alternating that chapter by chapter with an idiot’s guide to physics: The Quantum Universe: Everything that Can Happen Does Happen, by Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw. You did ask.

God appears and says you can only write OR read. Which would it be?

Would have to be reading. Other writers (especially all of them gathered together) have much more of interest to say than I do.

The three best words to describe your own writing are …?
Never knowingly unedited.

Acts of the Assassins by Richard Beard is published by Harvill Secker.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Publication: A POSTCARD FROM HAMBURG by JJ Toner

It sounds a lot like the title of an Alan Furst spy novel, but A POSTCARD FROM HAMBURG is the third in JJ Toner’s WWII series of crime thrillers to feature Kurt Müller, and the sequel to THE BLACK ORCHESTRA. Quoth the blurb elves:
1943. WWII is raging in Europe. Kurt Müller is living in London. While working for British Intelligence he discovers a photograph of his girlfriend, Gudrun, among the possessions of a German agent. Then he gets a postcard from Gudrun, posted in Germany, and he knows the Gestapo has taken her…
  For all the details, clickety-click here