“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, October 6, 2016

Review: THE DROWNING CHILD by Alex Barclay

Alex Barclay’s series heroine, FBI Special Agent Ren Bryce, generally operates out of Denver, but The Drowning Child (Harper) finds Ren relocated to the Oregon town of Tate, where 12-year-old Caleb Veir has gone missing. What begins as a standard investigation for the Child Abduction Rapid Deployment team becomes increasingly sinister, however, as Ren discovers that a number of children have died in mysterious circumstances in Tate, most of them by way of drowning. Complicating matters is Ren’s messy personal life, particularly the overwhelming guilt she feels for causing the deaths of her friends and colleagues in the ‘monumental horror’ of her previous case, Killing Ways (2015). Ren Bryce becomes a more compelling character with each successive novel (this is her sixth outing), hardboiled and professional on the outside but – courtesy of Ren’s unfiltered internal monologue – crippled with self-doubt and loathing on the inside. She’s also irreverent, insolent and endearingly self-deprecating, such as when she compares herself to the iconic Clarice Starling: “No screaming lambs, but lots of fucking voices.” Central to the appeal of The Drowning Child, however, is Barclay’s depiction of small-town America, a sharply observed valley of squinting windows that turns a blind eye to the perverse sickness at its very heart. ~ Declan Burke

  This review was first published in the Irish Times in the crime fiction review column. Other titles reviewed are the new books from Carl Hiaasen, Sophie Hannah, Peter Spiegelman and Thomas Rydahl.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Reviews: ‘Queens of Irish Crime Writing’

The inimitable Myles McWeeney – long a friend of Irish crime writing – reviews three current releases under the title of ‘Queens of Irish Crime Writing’ in the Irish Independent. To wit:
Multi-award-winning writers like Tana French, Alex Barclay and relative newcomer Jo Spain are standing toe-to-toe and slugging it out for bestselling charts dominance with their well-established British counterparts like Val McDermid and Mo Hayder, and US contemporaries Kathy Reichs and Tess Gerritsen.
  But these three high-flying Irish women writers are no flash in the pan. They are part of a highly impressive cohort of Irish female mystery writers who have beaten a path to the top in the past decade or so, including highly regarded bestselling authors like Jane Casey, Arlene Hunt, Niamh O'Connor, Ava McCarthy, Sinead Crowley and 50pc of Karen Perry - (Perry is actually two people, Karen Gillece and Peter Perry). The reason French, Barclay and Spain have been chosen here to represent their sisters in crime is that all three, coincidentally, have just had their latest novels published within days of each other this month.
  For the full review, clickety-click here

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Event: Steve Cavanagh to Diary-Blog Next Novel

Hats off to Steve Cavanagh (right), the author of the bestselling titles THE DEFENCE and THE PLEA, who has announced that he will be blogging the writing of his next novel, promising ‘an honest diary’ of his ups and downs – mostly ups, we hope. He’s a better and braver man than yours truly, and I wish him a fair wind and Godspeed. Quoth Steve:
“The blog will serve as a sort of diary for me. It will be honest. There will be some weeks where the word count will be desperately low, and I’ll feel bad about writing those posts. Maybe the thought of telling the world how little progress I’ve made might give me a boost – you never know. There will also be weeks where the word count recorded will be reasonably high. Usually that means I’ll spend quite a bit more time on those sections when I come to do my second draft.
“I’m looking forward to it. This is the kind of blog that I wanted to read when I was an unpublished writer, hacking my way through my first book. The aim is to lay the process bare and debunk some of the writing myths that seem to have cropped up. I’ll also post the odd section from the book as a work in progress.”
  To follow Steve’s blogging adventures, clickety-click here.
  For a review of THE DEFENCE, clickety-click here.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Help Save Sligo Library

Dear Reader –
  I would be very grateful indeed if you could lend your support to the campaign to save Sligo libraries. The campaign is at a critical point (see below), and every signature on the petition to save Sligo libraries could be vital. If you have 15 seconds to spare today, please click on this link and sign the petition.
  I’m emotionally attached to Sligo Library (right), as you might imagine – some of my earliest and fondest memories are bound up in this beautiful building, which I haunted as a child (one of my proudest achievements is of ‘graduating’ from the Junior to the Senior Library a year early, aged 11). But I know I don’t have to stress the importance of every library, to every child – to my mind, the library, along with the hospital, is a crucial pillar of any community.
  From the Irish Times:
The battle to save Sligo’s three libraries will gather momentum on Monday morning when county councillors unanimously back a Section 140 motion forcing the chief executive to keep them open … Under the Local Government Act 2001, councillors can pass a section 140 motion. Under this clause of the Local Government Act, elected representatives can compel the county council chief executive to carry out their wishes.
  I thank you in advance for your help in this matter; and, if the spirit so moves you, it would be wonderful if you could click on one of the buttons below to spread the word.

UPDATE: Delighted to hear that, as a result of a meeting held this morning, Sligo Library Services have secured the extra staff required to keep the libraries open. Thanks a million to everyone who took the time to get involved.