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.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

A Critical Juncture

Another day, yet another Irish crime writing debutant. CRITICAL VALUE by DC Gogan comes to my attention via the good works of Bryan Roche over at the Irish Crime Writing Facebook page, with the blurb elves wittering thusly:
A research project on homicidal fantasies ...
A murdered woman in the largest university in Ireland ...
Does a psychology student’s thesis hold the key to catching a killer?

Adam Twohig is in his final year of Psychology at University College Dublin. He never settled into the college lifestyle, never plugged into the social scene, and never excelled at his studies. Which is why he’s puzzled when Greg Taylor comes to him looking for help with his thesis.

Greg is studying the homicidal fantasies of UCD students, getting hundreds of written accounts of students’ darkest, murderous desires. When high-profile Entertainments Officer Christine Harvey is savagely murdered, the investigating detective wants access to his data. At first Adam thinks that the police are clutching at straws, but another murder on campus draws him deeper into the investigation.

The secrets buried in Greg’s data force Adam into an unlikely alliance between the Irish police and two FBI agents on the hunt for a serial killer, and put him and his friends in the sights of a murderer whose depravity seems to stand outside everything Adam knows about human psychology.
  Sounds intriguing, not least because it’s been quite a while - when Cormac Millar last deigned to grace us with his presence, basically - since we’ve had a good old-fashioned campus novel.
  What’s most interesting to me, though, is that it’s still only June and I’ve already seen or heard of eleven - now twelve - Irish crime writing debuts. Some are traditionally published, others are e-book only, one - Seamus Scanlon’s - is a collection of short stories; but regardless of format or form, 2012 marks something significant in the development of the Irish crime novel.
  To the best of my knowledge, the list of Irish crime debutants in 2012 runs as follows:
BLOOD FROM A SHADOW by Gerard Cappa;
GHOST TOWN by Michael Clifford;
EL NINO by Mick Donnellan;
THE FALL by Claire McGowan;
EVEN FLOW by Darragh McManus;
THE ISTANBUL PUZZLE by Laurence O’Bryan;
RED RIBBONS by Louise Phillips;
DISAPPEARED by Anthony Quinn;
AS CLOSE AS YOU’LL EVER BE by Seamus Scanlon.
  If I’ve missed out on anyone, or if you have a novel on the way later in the year, please drop me a line and I’ll include you on the list.
  Meanwhile, Louise Phillips ( is putting together a series of features on debutant Irish crime writers for the site. If you’re a new Irish crime writer, why not drop over to and introduce yourself? I’m sure she’d be delighted to hear from you.

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