Praise for Declan Burke: “Burke shows again that he’s not just a comic genius, but also a fine dramatic writer and storyteller.” – Booklist. “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, July 13, 2007

News Flash Or Flash News? YOU Decide!

Yep, ’tis a good day for Irish crime fiction, to be sure, to be sure. The various shortlists for the Private Eye Writers of America Shamus Awards have just been announced, and Sir Kenneth of Bruen has been nominated for Best Hardcover for The Dramatist (St. Martin’s Minotaur). Huzzah, etc. It seems like only last Monday that Ken was on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson promoting Priest … hold on, it was only last Monday. Sheesh, the boy fairly gets around, don’t he? Meanwhile, Declan Hughes has been nominated for Best First Novel for The Wrong Kind of Blood (William Morrow), the debut outing for his Dublin-based PI, Ed Loy. Hughes’ novels (the second being The Colour of Blood) have been given the Ross Macdonald hup-ya from a variety of sources, so here’s hoping he’ll nab his first Shamus, while Sir Kenneth yoinks his second. The awards will be presented on September 28, 2007, at the PWA banquet in Anchorage, Alaska, during the weekend of the Bouchercon World Mystery Convention; for full details of all nominations, sashay on over to Sarah Weinman’s ever-reliable Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Funky Friday’s Free-For-All: Because Every Cloud Has Its Silver Friday

Pauline McLynn (right) may have given up on crime writing, but we’re not giving up on her, no sirree, so we’ll be tuned to Radio Scotland on Monday when she guest presents the weekly books spot on Radio CafĂ© … Staying with guest presenters, Jason Starr dons the blusher and mascara over at The Lipstick Chronicles to wibble on about ‘men writing women’. The reason he was invited, apparently, is because he’s ‘a babe’. Nice one, Jason … Currently serving the ninth year of a life sentence, Razor Smith is described by Penguin as ‘a career armed-robber turned raconteur’. The reason we mention the author of A Few Kind Words And A Loaded Gun is that the Penguin people sent us an ARC of his upcoming Raiders, without us even having to ask. Now that’s the kind of service that doesn’t need a smile. Cheers, folks … Staying with freebie books: David Thompson at Busted Flush Press sent us a little package all the way from Texas, which included Ken Bruen’s A Fifth of Bruen and Vicki Hendricks’ Miami Purity. Consider us simultaneously stoked and humbled, sir … The rumours about Sebastian Faulks writing the new Bond novel have been confirmed, with The Rap Sheet offering a comprehensive range of articles on the subject – most of which seemed to be headlined, ‘The Name’s Faulks, Sebastian Faulks’. We’d have gone with ‘Faulking Brilliant’ ourselves … Nick Stone gets an impressive write-up in the Miami Herald for his upcoming Miami-set King of Swords, in which he blames Charles Dickens for setting him on the road to crime. We blame Enid Blyton, ourselves … Finally, the vid below is of Elmore Leonard receiving the Raymond Chandler award, during which Elmore tries to tell a few stories about Chandler and gets pretty short shrift from the organisers, who literally don’t seem to know what he’s talking about. Bloody peons … Anyhoo, that’s it for another week, folks. Have a very fine weekend y’all, and don’t forget to come back here now, y’hear?

How Late Late It Was, How Late Late

Sir Kenneth of Bruen was on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson the other night promoting Priest, and we’re hearing mixed reactions about how he got on – Peter over at Detectives Beyond Borders posted on the topic under the header ‘A shite television interview with a fine writer’, which may or may not give you some idea of where Peter was coming from, while Ed Gorman reckoned Ken was “Cool, humorous, witty, and swift enough to keep up with Ferguson, who is one seriously hopped-up guy.” Confused? You will be if you jump over here for a vid upload excerpt at TV Eyes – the bit about Hell’s Angels reading as they speed down the highway will stay with us for quite a while …

Here’s One We Made Earlier: Fast One by Paul Cain

Those print-taking mommas over at The Rap Sheet were kind enough to ask us to contribute to their mammoth You’re Still The One series, in which crime-writerly types were invited to nominate the writer or novel they felt has been most unjustly overlooked, criminally forgotten or underappreciated over the years. We picked Paul Cain’s Fast One, to wit:
"The bigger they come, the faster they fall. Ray Chandler proposed that a writer should have a man come through the door with a gun already in his hand should things ever threaten to calm down, and perhaps that’s why he called Fast One ‘ultra hard-boiled’. With a body count of Cecil B. DeMille proportions, Paul Cain’s only novel (he also published a collection of short stories, Seven Slayers) arrived in 1933, after a serialisation in Black Mask. The joins show, much in the same way as gaps appear between explosions in a fireworks display. The terse, virtually monosyllabic prose seems hammered into the paper (Last line: “Then, after a little while, life went away from him.”) as gunsel Gerry Kells wreaks havoc in the criminal underworld of Depression-era LA, his hypnotic paranoia eventually justified as various kingpins conspire to rub him out. Harder than Chandler, bleaker than Hammett, sparer than James Cain, Fast One is an incendiary device in book form."
The big question: can anyone tell us if a movie was ever made from Fast One? Ta.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Mmmm, Pleasanter and Pleasanter …

Here’s a mouth-watering / eye-popping / teeth-grinding (delete as applicable) quote for wannabe writers, courtesy of Stephen Galloway’s piece ‘Studios are hunting the next big property’ in the Hollywood Reporter:
“That hunger for potential franchise material is something London-based literary agent Michelle Kass experienced firsthand when she came to Los Angeles in May with her client Derek Landy’s novel Skulduggery Pleasant, a fantastic tale of a young female detective who teams up with a wisecracking ghost. Kass and Landy were wooed by several major studios, even meeting with Steven Spielberg, before executive Kevin McCormick persuaded them that Warners was the right home for the project with a deal that gave Landy around $1 million, along with the right to script the film and be involved with creating his own video game.”
Still, at least yon Landy isn’t dating Nicole Kidman and Keira Knightley, eh?

Sliding For Home

That rascally pair of rapscallious ragamuffins, Ken Bruen and Jason Starr, have the follow-up to their first collaboration, Bust, on the way in October courtesy of Hard Case Crime, but already the hup-ya big-ups having been coming in like the proverbial choppers at Da Nang. “A full-tilt, rocking homage to noir novels of the 1950s, taking full advantage of the neo-pulp Hard Case Crime imprint ... A seamless blend of Bruen’s dead-on Irish underworld and Starr’s hellish vision of the Big Apple, Hard Case’s latest release is smart, trashy fun, fulfilling ably the series’ irresistible promise,” says Publisher’s Weekly, while the Library Journal is on the case too, to wit: “Fasten your seat belts, and enjoy the bumpy ride of double- and triple-crosses, blackmail, and murder. If Quentin Tarantino is looking for another movie project, this novel with its mix of shocking violence and black comedy would be the perfect candidate.” For quite a bit more in the same vein, Slide on over here.

Flick Lit # 139: The Story of Sailor and Lula / Wild at Heart

“Findin’ out the meanin’ of life and all is fine, far as it goes, but dead’s dead, you know what I mean?”
Barry Gifford doesn’t mince words. Wild at Heart – The Story of Sailor and Lula (1990) is a novel written by an author who is also a prize-winning poet, which partially explains his ability to pack 44 chapters into 156 pages, and also goes some way towards explaining the impressionistic, imagistic style he employs. Each chapter is a short, punchy vignette in which Sailor and Lula outline their philosophy on life while striving to stay one step ahead of the law and the potential killer Lula’s mama has set on their trail. A seamless blend of ’40s hard-boiled brevity and the on-the-road Beat of the ’50s, Wild at Heart comes on like some deranged, addled offspring of Horace McCoy and Jack Kerouac as he struggles to draw breath in the steamy, sultry atmosphere of a William Faulkner short story. On his release from prison after serving a term for manslaughter, Sailor Ripley breaks parole and takes to the road with Lula Pace Fortune in order to escape the oppressive grasp of Lula’s disproving mother, Marietta. The plot doesn’t get any more convoluted than that; what sustains the narrative is the colourful cast of characters the couple encounter on their flight west towards California. By turns bizarre, grotesque and lethal, the collection of misfits only serves to confirm Lula’s heartfelt conviction that the world is indeed ‘wild at heart and weird on top.’ Imbued with Southern gentility and decorum, Gifford’s style has been described by critic Patrick Beach as ‘chicken-fried noir’ and – as per the rules of hard-boiled fiction – a happy ending is never on the cards for the star-crossed lovers. “Safe?” exclaims Marietta’s friend, Dal. “Safe? Ain’t that a stitch. Ain’t nobody nowhere never been safe a second of their life.” The frisson generated by a blend of uncertain direction and inevitable danger crackles from the back seat of Lula’s white ’75 Bonneville convertible. A distraught Lula can force Sailor to dump a crazy hitchhiker when the kid gets a little too weird for her liking, but she remains all too aware of the overwhelming forces – not least of which is Fate – ranged against the pair.
Sailor stroked Lula’s head.
“It ain’t gonna be forever, peanut.”
Lula closed her eyes.
“I know, Sailor. Nothin’ is.”
A collaboration between Barry Gifford and David Lynch must have seemed an unlikely prospect after the publication of Gifford’s collection of ‘film impressions’, The Devil Thumbs a Ride (1988), in which Gifford refers to Lynch’s critically acclaimed Blue Velvet (1986) as “One cut above a snuff film.” Collaborate they did, however, and while Lynch applied his trademark visual hyperbole to the project, the movie remains faithful in tone and narrative to Gifford’s novel. However, Lynch infected the dream-like innocence of the tale with nightmarish overtones. The recurring motif is that of a perverse vision of The Wizard of Oz. It appears – and with Lynch no one can ever be really sure – that the director was offering his own inimitable version of how the American Dream has evolved into a nightmare. Elvis Presley – the ultimate poor-boy-made-good – is reincarnated in the poses Nic Cage strikes, his cornpone philosophy, and Cage even sings a couple of classic Elvis tunes. Wild at Heart, asserts Richard Scheib, is ‘a ’50s rock ‘n’ roll movie gone to hell’. That runs counter to Catherine Texier’s claim, in the New York Times Book Review, that “Gifford’s characters inhabit a surreal world that is both hilarious and sad ... naively sentimental yet tough as nails.” Lynch sustains Gifford’s vision of the ‘naively sentimental’ through Sailor and Lula’s unbreakable devotion to one another, but also exaggerates the surreal, investing the minor characters with a menace and threat that goes far beyond that imagined by the author. The result is a movie that evolves from a road trip into a head-trip, a hallucinatory experience in which the worst possible imaginable consequences are only a fairy-tale reference away. Lynch, however, has rarely been in such command of his material and his authority is transmitted to the screen by a superb ensemble cast that includes Harry Dean Stanton, Willem Dafoe, Isabella Rossellini, Crispin Glover and Diane Ladd. Critics and fans remain divided over the merits of Wild at Heart (the movie did secure the Palme d’Or at the 1990 Cannes Film Festival) but one thing is certain – Wild at Heart redefined the road movie genre, pushing the parameters so far as to ensure that even the neo-realism of Oliver Stone’s notorious Natural Born Killers struggled to match its swaggering bravado. As Lula herself would say: “Dreams ain’t no odder than real life … Sometimes not by half.”– Michael McGowan

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Inaugural Crime Always Pays ‘Best First Line Of A Novel That Will Never Be Written’ Award: # 1: Nick Stone

Being the first in what has all the hallmarks of being an improbably short series. Anyhoo, this one comes courtesy of a Nick ‘King of Swords’ Stone (right) interview with those lovably blond Satans over at Sons of Spade:
“The first film I ever saw and loved was Peckinpah’s The Getaway with Steve McQueen and Ali McGraw. My mother took me to see it in Haiti when I was six.”
Seriously – how could you not keep reading on after that kind of opener?

Moloney Talks, Baloney Walks

Veteran Irish journo Ed Moloney’s The Secret History of the IRA has gone into a second edition, this one offering information the author couldn’t publish back in 2002 – namely, the part played by Ireland’s latter-day bogeyman, former taoiseach Charles Haughey, in facilitating the process that led to the IRA’s ceasefires and ultimately the cessation of hostilities in Northern Ireland. “Remarkably comprehensive yet coolly incisive ... an extraordinarily courageous and ultimately optimistic book that brilliantly elucidates past horrors,” said the Boston Globe on the book’s initial release, while the Washington Post made it ‘A Rave’: “Moloney brings a sharply intelligent reporter’s eye to a tangled history often baffling to outsiders.” Mind you, some disgruntled readers beg to differ. And they couldn’t all be ex-IRA, could they?

Nobody Move, This Is A Review: End Games by Michael Dibdin

The death of Michael Dibdin last March has robbed crime fiction of one of its most perceptive practitioners. Dibdin occasionally wrote stand-alone novels such as Thanksgiving (2000) and Dark Spectre (1995), but he is best known for his Aurelio Zen mysteries, a series set in Italy in which each outing finds the taciturn Venice-born detective dispatched to a new location, there to investigate the local idiosyncrasies and traditions with the same clear-eyed rigour he brings to his police work. Zen’s peripatetic lifestyle was mirrored by that of the author’s. Born in Wolverhampton in 1947, Dibdin’s early years were spent travelling as his father, an unusual combination of physicist and folklore expert, kept the family on the road. They finally settled in Lisburn in Northern Ireland, where the young Dibdin’s education at the Quaker’s Friends School was supplemented by the avid reading of some distinctly non-Quakerish crime fiction, in particular that of crime fiction’s premier stylist, Raymond Chandler. While his first novel, The Last Sherlock Holmes Story (1978), was received as an entirely adequate pastiche, Dibdin only began to carve an original niche for himself after moving to Perugia to work. Back in Oxford, he produced the first Aurelio Zen novel, Ratking (1988), which was awarded the Gold Dagger Award by the Crime Writers’ Association for best crime novel of the year. End Games, the 11th novel in the Zen series, contains all the Dibdin hallmarks. This time the detective is in Calabria, the toe of the Italian boot, content to mark time in the city of Cosenza while its police chief recovers from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The Chandleresque eye for telling description is ever-present (‘This was a dish he had grown up with, the clitoral gristle of the clams in their gaping porcelain shells …’), as is the discursive mode of story-telling, in which the meandering plot is less important than the characters who keep the anti-heroic Zen in a perpetual state of stoical second-guessing, not least of whom is his own conscience. An American kidnapped whilst scouting movie locations and subsequently murdered in a gruesome ritual provides the initial impetus for the story, but as with Dibdin’s most recent novels, in which the detective barely survived repeated attempts on his life, the emphasis is very much on Zen’s deadpan investigation of his own precarious existence. We know now, sadly, that End Games brings the Zen cycle to a close, but from the beginning there are intimations that Dibdin intended this to be his final Zen novel. The title itself is shot through with foreboding, and the first line forsakes the usual light-hearted opening gambit for funereal finality: ‘The dead man parked his car at the edge of the town, beside a crumbling wall marking the bounds of a rock-gashed wasteland of crippled oaks and dusty scrub …’. The apocalyptic tone continues throughout. As the villains hove into view and their motives are unveiled, it becomes clear that Dibdin believes that his hero and the civilisation he represents is under siege, as he invokes the Romans’ sacking of the Temple of Jerusalem and the pillaging of Rome in turn by the Barbarian Alaric, whose long-lost Calabrian tomb is believed to contain treasures with the power to provoke armageddon and thus precipitate the Rapture of Christian fundamentalist belief. The police procedural aspect is handled with Dibdin’s usual panache, the dogged detective meticulously working his way through a labyrinthine plot with his by now familiar healthy disrespect for local traditions and the established tropes of the police procedural novel, all the while unburdening himself of eminently quotable observations (‘She gave him a lingering glance before moving on, the cheeks of her buttocks colluding furtively as she strolled away.’). The Calabrian hinterland, too, receives its due, with Dibdin convincingly recreating its rustic charms, centuries-old vendettas and self-deluding philosophies (“Reality here has always been so harsh that we have by necessity learnt to content ourselves with the possible, the desirable and the purely imaginary.”). There’s humour too in the form of the arch-villain, Jake, an inarticulate computer game mogul from America’s West Coast whose ‘dude-speak’ is mercilessly lampooned, while his apparently simplistic motive for pursuing Alaric’s fabled treasure, which is irritatingly at odds with Dibdin’s logical approach throughout, is neatly inverted when least expected. Despite the page-turning quality of the denouement, you may nevertheless find yourself sipping at the final pages as at a last glass of a particularly fine wine, as much to prolong the pleasure as to defer a reckoning that, for Dibdin fans at least, will prove every bit as apocalyptic as that envisaged by Zen’s nemesis.- Declan Burke

This review is reproduced with the kind permission of the Irish Times.

Monday, July 9, 2007

The Embiggened O # 2,431: The Future’s So Bright We Gotta Wear Critical Mick’s Shades

It’s not often we quote Critical Mick here on Crime Always Pays – just every second day or so, enough to keep him from demanding jelly babies with menaces. But we couldn’t help ourselves stealing wholesale from his review of The Big O, mainly because he was so unusually unCritical*, to wit:
“Mick says: the dialogue, characters, plot and action were swift, sharp and entertaining enough to merit the suspension of disbelief. The same way that Training Day is a great movie despite the yawning implausibility of its crucial coincidence. Yes, the same way that 2006’s Running Scared ran so fast and slick. Winners all, big time. Riding the movie theme hard into this review’s conclusion: The Big O is the stuff Tarantino or Guy Ritchie would make into a film, a great fun film like Snatch, Layer Cake or Get Shorty. Filled with as many great characters as Pulp Fiction or (my personal fave 90’s crime flick) Things to do in Denver When You're Dead. Burke’s The Big O would inspire a classic full of tough crooks, wise cracks, drugs, flash and boobies. “Wow,” viewers would say. And then the hippest moviegoers, leading their hot redheaded dates outta the cinema, slipping on their designer shades, would say, “Yeah, but have you read the book it was based on? The book was better.””
Huzzah! We’ve been Micked and lived to tell the tale! That’s another one to tell the grandkids …

*Actually, he was very Critical. But we cut out the bad bits. As you do.

“Ya Wanna Do It Here Or Down The Station, Punk?” # 291: Brian McGilloway

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’m stuck between The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins and Last Car to Elysian Fields by James Lee Burke for totally different reasons. Can I pick two? I just have.
Who do you read for guilty pleasures?
I don’t really feel guilty reading anything. Any of Ian Rankin’s Rebus novels would certainly qualify under the ‘pleasures’ though.
Most satisfying writing moment?
My four year old son picking up a copy of Borderlands in a shop to see his name in the dedication at the start after he started learning how to spell in school. That’s the best so far, and will be kind of hard to beat, I think.
The best Irish crime novel is …
I’m not sure I’ve read enough to make a judgement. The Killing Kind by John Connolly is one of my favourite crime novels by an Irish writer. I read it a few summers ago in one sitting.
What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?
Again, I’m not sure I’m qualified to judge. A book I’d love to see on the small screen would be The Rye Man by David Park. A great book about a teacher starting in a new school, which I was reading when I started teaching. You’ll need to read it to get the crime element.
Worst / best thing about being a writer?
The worst thing is the self-imposed solitary confinement to write and having plot points clogging up your brain for days. The best thing is cracking those plot points when you least expect it.
Why does John Banville use a pseudonym for writing crime?
Maybe he thinks it sounds harder. Like Benny Blanco from the Bronx in Carlito’s Way.
The three best words to describe your own writing are …?
Words on pages? Border-based mysteries? You decide.

Brian McGilloway’s Borderlands was short-listed for the CWA Duncan Lawrie Debut Dagger

Sunday, July 8, 2007

The Monday Review: But Who Reviews The Reviewers, Eh?

They’re still coming in thick and fast for Derek Landy’s Skulduggery Pleasant, folks – to wit: “Skulduggery Pleasant has all the ingredients of a huge success … Landy’s wit shines through the narrative and his adventure reads with pace and excitement,” says Lindy at Lindy B’s Live Journal, while Debra Hamel over at Spike Books likes it a lot too: “Landy’s Skulduggery won’t assume the Potter mantle – if such a thing were even possible – but it is highly readable and funny, a charming page-turner for the YA crowd.” Lovely … “A sympathetic understanding of Dublin’s Little Africa makes this a special whodunnit,” reckons Anna Kurnuszko of Andrew Nugent’s Second Burial down under at the Aussie Sunday Times … “The humour is by turn slapstick and very dark. Bateman does not follow in the conventional tradition of crime writing; rather he should be seen as the natural heir to the black comic novels of Tom Sharpe,” says Mike Ripley over at Eurocrime about The Artist Formerly Known As Bateman’s I Predict A Riot … Tana French’s In the Woods is still garnering raves, not least from Jo Litson in the Aussie Sunday Times: “This is a classic whodunit with twists and turns and red herrings aplenty. But it is Ryan’s past that truly fascinates, and here French explores complex notions of identity and memory.” MySpace Books is equally impressed: “An entertainingly complex and cinematic crime thriller that is also quite simply a good novel, Tana French’s In the Woods has the forensic interest of CSI and the nuanced characterizations and compelling interpersonal relations of The Wire, along with quick pacing, a sense of humour, and a strong sense of place.” Crikey! … “Tenderwire is a carefully-balanced book, constructed with as much skill and precision as the instrument at the centre of it, and as haunting as the strains of its music,” claims Fay L. Booth at Hags, Harlots and Heroines of Claire Kilroy’s latest … But what of Ruth Dudley Edwards’ Murdering Americans, I hear you cry. Well, Jean Utley at I Love A Mystery likes it: “Edwards writes wonderful caricatures of American types in a very funny way … Jack Troutbeck is a character to be savoured and enjoyed as the fine wine she drinks. Highly recommended.” Marvellous stuff … We haven’t featured Gemma O’Connor in a while, but Crime Time likes Walking on Water: “This is Gemma O’Connor’s fifth psychological mystery set in rural Ireland, and once again she dazzles the reader with her haunting prose and insightful characterisation,” says Mark Campbell … Siobhan Dowd’s The London Eye Mystery is ‘One to Watch Out For’ over at The Daily Mail, while Kathryn Ross in The Scotsman likes it too: “A traditional mystery adventure where the youngsters beat the police detectives at their own game … Dowd keeps the tension cranked up, but there’s plenty of humour too.” … Mmmm, lovely … Garbhan Downey’s Running Mates is Fiction Book of the Month over at Kenny’s: “Behind the satire, however, there is a serious message and this even makes the book more interesting.” You couldn’t beat it with a stick … That all-important John Connolly review runneth thusly: “As beautifully creepy, well-written thrillers go, this one in Connolly’s Charlie Parker series is way cool,” reckons Barbara King at What Are Writers Reading … Over at The Telegraph, Helen Brown likes Anna Burns’ Little Constructions: “I can’t remember the last time I read prose so profound and so punchy, at once scattergun and forensic. It’s like the ink’s been made from gunpowder. And every line leaves a darkly sparkling residue you won’t be able to wash off.” Yummy … Finally, Adrian McKinty’s The Bloomsday Dead gets the hup-ya from Mystery News, via The Mean Streets: “Adrian McKinty is an author who just keeps getting better and better. He’s also a guy who’s not afraid to take chances … McKinty’s just having a little fun and at the same time engaging in the kind of literary shenanigans that, I’m sure, would have warmed the cockles of Joyce’s heart. At its core, The Bloomsday Dead is the sort of full-throttle crime novel that other authors in the genre would sell their souls to be able to write … You can’t go home again. Or can you? Either way, this is one of the most entertaining, high-octane and literate explorations of that question you are likely to find anywhere on the shelves today.” All of which is scrotumtighteningly riverun nice …

The True Crime Round-Up: It’s Crime! It’s True!! And It’s A Round-Up!!!

Some intriguing new Irish true crime offerings for your perusal, people: first up is Padraig O’Keefe’s Hidden Soldier, subtitled ‘An Irish Legionnaire’s Wars from Bosnia to Iraq’. Unable to settle back into civilian life after serving in Bosnia and Cambodia with the French Foreign Legion, O’Keefe became a ‘hidden soldier’ and wound up on ‘security operations’ in Haiti and Iraq. ‘An intense, exciting and vivid account of extraordinary and sometimes horrific events,’ reckon the blurb-elves at O’Brien, and if any of them are reading this, we’d love a review copy, ta very much … Minor Offences: Ireland’s Cradle of Crime is the title of Tom Tuite’s investigation into the underage criminals ‘who spend more time in the courtroom than the classroom’. Alongside the more lurid details of their criminal activity, Tuite explores the backdrop to juvenile crime, concluding that the one constant element that links anti-social behaviours is dysfunctional families. Gill and Macmillan are doing the honours … Finally, Brandon Books will publish James Monaghan’s Colombian Jail Journal in November. “Now, for the first time,” say Brandon’s blurb-elves, “James Monaghan tells the inside story of the Colombia Three: why they were in the demilitarised zone; what they discussed with the FARC rebels; how they survived the daily dangers of their time in prison. It is an extraordinary, unique account.” The burning question: were Monaghan, Martin McCauley and Niall Ferguson – allegedly IRA men advising the FARC rebels on how best to maximise their mass-killing capacity – really in the Colombian demilitarised zone for a spot of bird-watching? Only time, that perennial doity rat, will tell.