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, May 4, 2012

No Name, There Is None

Some people like their crime stories to be up-to-date and rooted in reality; others prefer a more escapist read. Brian McGilloway’s latest Inspector Devlin novel, THE NAMELESS DEAD, is very much in the former camp, revolving as it does around the discovery of a body by the ‘Commission for Location of Victims’ Remains’. Quoth the blurb elves:
“You can’t investigate the baby, Inspector. It’s the law.” Declan Cleary’s body has never been found, but everyone believes he was killed for informing on a friend over thirty years ago. Now the Commission for Location of Victims’ Remains is following a tip-off that he was buried on the small isle of Islandmore, in the middle of the River Foyle. Instead, the dig uncovers a baby’s skeleton, and it doesn’t look like death by natural causes. But evidence revealed by the Commission’s activities cannot lead to prosecution. Inspector Devlin is torn. He has no desire to resurrect the violent divisions of the recent past. Neither can he let a suspected murderer go unpunished. Now the secret is out, more deaths follow. Devlin must trust his conscience – even when that puts those closest to him at terrible risk . . .
  Sounds like an absolute belter. THE NAMELESS DEAD, by the way, sounds very much like an Ian Rankin title to me, but it’s Peter James who provides the encomium on the front cover. To wit:
“McGilloway has created a truly human and original police officer, flawed, maverick and vulnerable.” - Peter James
  Very nice indeed. For those of you wondering when said tome will be available, Brian launches THE NAMELESS DEAD in Derry’s Central Library next Wednesday, May 9th, at 7.30pm, with all welcome. If you can’t make it, you can pre-order a copy of THE NAMELESS DEAD here

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

On Spooks, Crooks And The Gutter’s Books

The ever vigilant Critical Mick directs us toward the Gutter Bookshop website, and their upcoming attractions, wherein lurks the news that Michael Clifford will be launching his debut tome GHOST TOWN (Hachette Ireland) on Tuesday evening, May 8th, at 6.30pm. An intriguing prospect: Michael - or Mick - Clifford is one of Ireland’s best known and well regarded journalists, currently writing for the Irish Examiner and the Sunday Times, and not a man known to tuck an acerbic opinion about Ireland Inc. under a bushel. Which suggests that GHOST TOWN could be a very entertaining read indeed. Quoth the blurb elves:
Once they had everything to gain ...

A Dublin gangland king pin on the chase. A corrupt property mogul on the run. A hungry crime journalist determined to put his destroyed career back on track. And the return of ‘the Dancer’ - Joshua Molloy, small-time Dublin ex-con, recently out of prison, off the booze, determined to stay on the straight and narrow. When Molloy hires Noelle Higgins, a solicitor and boom-time wife with a crumbling personal life, to help find his young son, both are soon drawn into a web of treachery and violence, where Ireland's criminal underworld and fallen elite fight it out to lay claim to what’s left from the crash: €3 million in cash, in a bag, buried somewhere in the depths of rural Ireland.

Now they have nothing to lose ...

From Dublin to Spain and finally a debris-strewn ghost estate in Kerry, GHOST TOWN is the fast-paced and tightly written debut thriller by leading Irish journalist and commentator Michael Clifford.
  So there you have it. Incidentally, the Gutter Bookshop has twice won the Independent Bookseller of the Year gong (2011 & 2012), so if you ever need a book, or even if you just want to say hello, drop them a line here: And feel free to say the CAP elves sent ya …

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Review: THE FALL by Claire McGowan

Newry native Claire McGowan sets her debut offering THE FALL (Headline, £12.99) in contemporary London, where we first meet prosperous couple Charlotte, a PR expert, and Dan, an investment banker, who are about to get married. They appear to be set fair for a typically comfortable middle-class life, but then Dan loses his job. That night Dan gets into a fight in a nightclub and kills the nightclub manager, slashing the man’s throat with a broken bottle. Or did he?
  McGowan’s novel is as much an examination of how class, race and wealth impact on the perception of a crime as it is about the investigation into a particular incident. Dan is a middle-class white man; the nightclub manager is black. After he is arrested for murder, the media trumpet the fact that Dan had previously been warned for racist behaviour at his investment bank. Is this Dan’s motive? Surely a respectable college graduate like Dan couldn’t be a homicidal racist?
  Meanwhile, the investigating officer, DC Matthew Hegarty, is a working-class lad recently relocated to London from the North of England. As the novel progresses, we see Hegarty coming to terms with how his personal prejudices influence his professional decisions - particularly as Hegarty finds himself falling for the beautiful and vulnerable Charlotte.
  The third main character in the story is Keisha, a single mother who has had her child taken from her by the Social Services because the child was beaten by her live-in boyfriend. Keisha was working at the nightclub on the night of the murder, and believes she saw something which might prove Dan’s innocence. But Keisha is one of society’s marginalised, a half-English and half-Caribbean young mother existing on the breadline, an outsider in all of London’s self-defining cultures. Will a system that despises her take her seriously enough to allow Keisha a voice?
  Claire McGowan offers an interesting take on the crime novel, one that incorporates the traditional ‘whodunit’ elements - prone to stress-related black-outs, even Dan isn’t fully convinced of his innocence - but is much more interested in the ‘whydunit’ aspects of narrative - the social, cultural and psychological factors that lead us to behave in a certain way in certain circumstances.
  The story is undone in places in the latter stages as the vagaries of the plot persuades some of McGowan’s characters to make some implausible decisions and belated revelations, but otherwise this is a sturdy and promising debut. - Declan Burke

Monday, April 30, 2012

“Ya Wanna Do It Here Or Down The Station, Punk?”: Tom Piccirilli

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?
The original psycho-noir: the Bible.

What fictional character would you most like to have been?
A 12-year-old Tom Piccirilli with endless potential. My mother tells me he once existed but she’s entering her dementia years.

Who do you read for guilty pleasures?
I don’t have any guilty pleasures. I have only guiltless pleasures.

Most satisfying writing moment?
They’re all a tie for worst disappointment, gut-wrenching dissatisfaction, boundless blind rage, and endless frustration.

The best Irish crime novel is …?
I don’t know, but it’s probably been written by Ken Bruen. Nobody smears their guts on the page like that man. He’s got more courage than anybody I know.

What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?

Worst / best thing about being a writer?
Having no stability/having no boss.

The pitch for your next book is …?
THE LAST KIND WORDS, due out June 12: Raised in a clan of small-time thieves and grifters, Terrier Rand decided to cut free from them and go straight after his older brother, Collie, went on a senseless killing spree that left an entire family and several others dead. Five years later, and days before his scheduled execution, Collie contacts Terry and asks him to return home. He claims he wasn’t responsible for one of the murders--and insists that the real killer is still on the loose.

Who are you reading right now?
THE RED SCARF by Gil Brewer.

God appears and says you can only write OR read. Which would it be?
I’ve pretty much ignored the commands and tenets of God up until now, so I doubt I’d start listening to Him about this.

The three best words to describe your own writing are …?
Audacious, brazen, bold, chilling, haunting, poignant, haunting, delightful, assured. Is that three? I’m a writer not a fucking mathematician.

THE LAST KIND WORDS by Tom Piccirilli is published by Bantam Dell.