“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, May 23, 2015

Event: Dennis Lehane at the Irish Writers’ Centre

The great Dennis Lehane (right) will be appearing at the Irish Writers’ Centre, Dublin, on Thursday 28th, in conversation with Declan Hughes. To wit:
Date: Thursday 28 May
Time: 7.30pm
Venue: Irish Writers Centre
Fee: €18 / €15 IWC Members

Dennis Lehane, novelist, screenwriter and writer-producer, is set to release his latest novel World Gone By (Little, Brown) and will be joining us at the Centre to talk about this latest endeavour, writing for print and screen and will reveal all about the much discussed Love/Hate US adaptation.
  Dennis Lehane grew up in Boston. His novels have been translated into more than 30 languages and have become international bestsellers and include Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone, Darkness Take My Hand and Moonlight Mile. His most recent work World Gone By, a psychologically and morally complex novel set in World War II was published March 2015. Three of his novels - Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone and Shutter Island - have been adapted into award-winning films.
  Lehane was a staff writer on the acclaimed HBO series The Wire and is a writer-producer on the fourth season of HBO’s Boardwalk Empire. His film The Drop features James Gandolfini in his last movie role. It has recently been reported in the press that Dennis has been approached to adapt the Irish crime drama Love/Hate for a US cable television network.
  Dennis will be interviewed by writer and playwright Declan Hughes.
  For details of how to book tickets, clickety-click here.
  Dennis will also be appearing at the Listowel Writer’s Festival on Friday, May 29th.
  For a review of WORLD GONE BY, clickety-click here.
  For an interview with Dennis, clickety-click here.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

“Ya Wanna Do It Here Or Down The Station, Punk?” Peter James

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?
Brighton Rock by Graham Greene. Set in my home town of Brighton, it is the book that made me want to become a crime novelist.

What fictional character would you most like to have been?
Gary Soneji, from the early James Patterson novels. He’s the shrewdest, smartest villain ever created and it would be fun to be evil in a fictional world.

Who do you read for guilty pleasures?
I don’t know if you’d call it a guilty pleasure or rubbernecking! But I love dipping into Vernon Geberth’s massive tome, Practical Homicide, packed with no holds barred crime scene photographs.

Most satisfying writing moment?
When I figure out how everything is going to fit together.

If you could recommend one Irish crime novel, what would it be?
Brian Moore’s Lies Of Silence. It has one of the most brilliant human dilemmas I’ve ever read in a novel.

What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?
Brian McGilloway’s Hurt.

Worst / best thing about being a writer?
Worst thing: being stuck in a room, forcing yourself to write. Best thing: shutting out the outside world and writing in peace.

The pitch for your next book is …?
A girl disappears from an underground car park in Brighton. On the same night, the 30-year-old remains of a young woman are unearthed by builders. Has Brighton got its first serial killer in 80 years? Has Roy Grace finally met his match?

Who are you reading right now?
I’m reading Patricia Highsmith and finding her fantastic! I have seen Strangers on a Train and The Talented Mr Ripley, but never read her novels. She is such a brilliant writer.

God appears and says you can only write OR read. Which would it be?
Write. I’ve been a compulsive writer since I could first hold a pen. But I think that would make him a very cruel God indeed to force that choice on someone!

The three best words to describe your own writing are …?
Character. Research. Plot.

Peter James’ YOU ARE DEAD is published by Macmillan.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Review: WORLD GONE BY by Dennis Lehane

“Before the small war broke them apart,” begins Dennis Lehane’s World Gone By, (Little, Brown) “they all gathered to support the big war.” The story opens in December 1942 in the Versailles Ballroom, Tampa, at a glamorous fundraiser for US troops stationed overseas. Actors, singers and sport stars mingle with financial and political heavyweights, the event organised and choreographed by Joseph ‘Boston Joe’ Coughlin, the Irish-American gangster we first met as a street punk on the make in The Given Day (2008), and who whose bloody and brutal rise to power during Prohibition is detailed in Live By Night (2012).
  By now a largely respectable businessman, albeit one who still has business interests in common with the notorious Meyer Lansky in Cuba, Joe Coughlin is respected and feared by his colleagues and enemies. A man who has always ensured that his associates in ‘the most powerful business syndicate in the Western hemisphere’ earned handsomely from his illicit ventures, and a former gangster who no longer has any power worth killing for, Joe is to all intents and purposes untouchable. So who has put a hit out on Joe Coughlin? And why would anyone want to kill him and disrupt the status quo?
  These questions provide World Gone By, Lehane’s 12th novel, with its narrative spine, as Coughlin tries to discover who his enemies are and second-guess their motives, all the while trying to keep a lid on a race war that is threatening to explode as an ambitious Italian-American faction tries to muscle in on the Tampa turf of ‘the Negro gangster Montooth Dix’. There are thrills and spills aplenty as the story unfolds, but it’s in the flesh Lehane packs onto the bones that the novel truly comes alive. Joe Coughlin is a fascinating creation, a dignified savage who is every bit as vicious when it comes to defending his own interests – including, most notably, the life of his young son Tomas – as he is noble in his aspirations for a better, more rewarding life for those he holds dear.
  He is a complex man, the black sheep scion of “a family tree whose branches had bent over the centuries with the weight of troubadours, publicans, writers, revolutionaries, magistrates, and policemen – liars all.” He is capable of falling in love with another man’s wife (in the process risking abject humiliation for them both) while still fiercely grieving for his dead wife, Tomas’s mother Graciela. He is acutely self-aware of his failings as a man and a father: “No,” he says in the wake of a shoot-out massacre, answering Tomas’s question as to whether he’s ‘a bad guy’, “just not a particularly good one.” Haunted by what appears to be the ghost of a young boy, Joe is unable to decide if he is hallucinating due to stress, experiencing a foreshadowing of his own mortality, or suffering a self-fulfilling prophecy born of years of subsumed guilt over the blood on his hands.
  Ultimately, World Gone By is a novel about the turbulent transition of America’s criminal fraternity from the riotous gangster era, as epitomised by Joe Coughlin and his peers, to the post-WWII years and the more organised crime of the Mafia. Joe Coughlin, the former hot-headed punk who grew up to become a thoughtful strategist, straddles both worlds, although from the beginning Joe, one of the great tragic anti-heroes of contemporary crime fiction, is conscious that his is an untenable position, that fate itself decrees that blood must always be paid back in blood. “Sometimes,” Lehane writes, “when outrage begat outrage with enough frequency, it threatened the fabric of the universe, and the universe pushed back.” ~ Declan Burke

  This review was first published in the Irish Times.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Event: Liz Nugent and Sinead Crowley at the International Literature Festival

The International Literature Festival Dublin takes place from May 16-24, with Liz Nugent (right) and Sinead Crowley featuring in ‘The Big Book Club Show’ at Smock Alley. To wit:
Ever wondered how to write the perfect thriller? Or perhaps you’re a culture vulture who knows a lot about books? If so, The Big Book Club Show is for you!
  In the first part of the show, Irish Times Digital Editor Hugh Linehan talks to acclaimed thriller writers Liz Nugent (Unravelling Oliver) and Sinéad Crowley (Can Anybody Help Me?), asking how they went about creating characters who do terrible things.
  In part two, The Big Book Club Quiz offers you a chance to test your literary knowledge against a team of experts captained by Hugh Linehan, and a crack book club squad captained by comedian and writer Colm O’Regan. Hosted with irrepressible cheek by Stephen Faloon, manager of the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, who likes to award bonus points for clever answers and whisk them away for mistakes, The Big Book Club Show is a fast, fun and competitive night. You might even win a prize!
  ‘The Big Book Club Show’ takes place on May 20; for all the details on how to book tickets, etc., clickety-click here
  Also appearing at the ILF is Alexander McCall Smith, in a public interview on May 21. For all the details, clickety-click here

Monday, May 18, 2015

Review: ONLY WE KNOW by Karen Perry

The second offering from the Irish writing partnership of Karen Perry (aka Karen Gillece and Paul Perry), Only We Know (Penguin) opens on a riverbank in Kenya’s Masai Mara in 1982, with Sally arriving moments too late to prevent a tragedy that involves her young sons Luke and Nicky and their friend Katie. The story then moves forward to 2013, when Katie is a journalist in Dublin, Luke a successful businessman, and Nicky a recently married musician living in Nairobi. The trio’s belief that their tragic secret is known only to them is revealed to be a fallacy when Katie receives a bizarre and ominous token in the post, and soon their lives are spiralling out of control as this psychological thriller, which offers alternating viewpoints and subjective interpretations of the truth of what really happened on that fateful day, strips back the layers of deceit that has sustained them in the intervening decades. Only We Know builds handsomely on the promise of The Boy That Never Was (2014), plausibly and hauntingly exploring the extent to which guilt, shame and secrecy can shape, define and eventually destroy lives. ~ Declan Burke

  This review was first published in the Irish Times.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Event: Crimefest In Bristol

UPDATE: Hearty congrats to L.C. Tyler, who won the Goldsboro ‘Last Laugh’ Award at Crimefest yesterday evening, a deserved winner and a very nice man to boot. Nice one, Len …
  For all the Crimefest award winners, clickety-click here

The Bristol Crimefest 2015 kicks off today, May 14th, and for the first time in what seems like aeons I won’t be spending the weekend propping up the bar at the Bristol Marriott Royal sipping on my patented Pimms-and-liquorice. Bristol’s Crimefest is always a very intimate, friendly affair – as Pimms-and-liquorice-fuelled affairs tend to be – and I’m very disappointed to have to miss out this year. On the plus side, and as mentioned before on these pages, CRIME ALWAYS PAYS (Severn House) has been shortlisted for the Goldsboro ‘Last Laugh’ Award, which will be announced along with a number of awards on Saturday night. To wit:
GOLDSBORO LAST LAUGH AWARD

The Goldsboro Last Laugh Award is for the best humorous crime novel first published in the British Isles in 2014. The £500 prize is sponsored by Goldsboro Books, the UK’s largest specialist in signed and/or first edition books. The winner also receives a Bristol Blue Glass vase.

The nominees are:

– Lawrence Block for The Burglar Who Counted the Spoons (Orion Publishing Group)
– Declan Burke for Crime Always Pays (Severn House Publishers)
– Christopher Fowler for Bryant & May – The Bleeding Heart (Bantam/Transworld)
– Shane Kuhn for Kill Your Boss (Little, Brown Book Group)
– Chris Pavone for The Accident (Faber & Faber)
– L. C. Tyler for Crooked Herring (Allison & Busby)

Eligible titles were submitted by publishers for the longlist, and a team of British crime fiction reviewers voted to establish the shortlist and the winning title.

CRIMEFEST annually presents a number of awards at its Gala Dinner which in 2015 will be held on Saturday, 16 May.
  The very best of luck to all the nominees, and may the funniest man win.
  For all the details on all of the Crimefest awards, including the eDunnit and Audible awards, clickety-click here