“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.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Movie Release: THE TRUTH COMMISSIONER

Adapted from David Parks’ fine novel, The Truth Commissioner goes on general release on February 26th. To wit:
Set in a post-troubles Northern Ireland, The Truth Commissioner follows the fictional story of Henry Stanfield (Roger Allam), a career diplomat who has just been appointed as Truth Commissioner to Northern Ireland.
  Co-starring Barry Ward (Jimmy’s Hall), Sean McGinley (The General), Conleth Hill (‘Game of Thrones’), Ian McElhinney (‘Game of Thrones’) and Tom Goodman Hill (The Imitation Game), the story revolves around the lives of three men who are directly or indirectly involved in the disappearance, 20 years earlier, of the 15-year-old Connor Roche. Though Stanfield starts bravely, he quickly uncovers some bloody and inconvenient truths about those now running the country; truths which none of those in power are prepared to have revealed. Everyone claims to want the truth, but what is it going to cost, and who is going to pay for it?
  Directed by Declan Recks (Eden) and adapted from David Park’s award winning novel ‘The Truth Commissioner’ by Eoin O’Callaghan, the film looks behind the rhetoric surrounding the Northern Ireland peace process and was filmed on location in Belfast, Derry and Dublin.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Publication: PAPER CUTS by Colin Bateman

Colin Bateman’s latest, PAPER CUTS (Head of Zeus), is not – repeat, not – a crime novel. Once you’ve picked yourself up off the fainting couch, though, you’ll discover that PAPER CUTS is a wonderfully cynical love letter to the qualified joys of local journalism. To wit:
Through world wars and civil strife, the Bangor Express has never missed an issue, but now it is losing money hand-over-fist and Rob Cullen, fresh off the plane from his London news desk, has absolutely no idea that he’s the man to save it.
  Rob’s back in Northern Ireland for the first time in 20 years for the funeral of his one-time mentor, the late editor of the aforementioned Express. Tomorrow morning the Guardian reporter intends to be on the first plane back to London, but that’s before an exceptionally good night out and the promise of £1,500 for just one day’s work lures him into the Express offices.
  It’s been a long time since Rob had a real story to get his teeth into ... and with the Bangor Express, that’s just what he’s going to get. From armed robberies to arson attacks there is no shortage of front-page news. Just as well Rob can rely on the Express crew to back him up. They’re like a family. A dysfunctional, highly unpopular and poverty-stricken family …
  PAPER CUTS is published today, February 11. For more, clickety-click here

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Publication: BURIED by Graham Masterton

Graham Masterton is easily the most prolific author publishing in Irish crime fiction right now. WHITE BONES, the first in the DS Katie Maguire series of police procedurals, was published in 2013; BURIED (Head of Zeus) is the sixth in the series. To wit:
Katie Maguire knows that in this part of Ireland, the past can never stay buried ...
  In Blarney, Cork, an old millworker’s cottage guards its secrets. In 1921, a mother, father and their two young children disappeared from this house. And now, ninety-five years later, their mummified bodies have been discovered under the floorboards.
  The neighbours cannot imagine who would have killed such a harmless family all those years ago. But as DS Katie Maguire investigates, the flames of old family rivalries flare up once more ... and Katie is caught in the crossfire.
  BURIED is published on February 11. For more on Graham’s Katie Maguire series, clickety-click here

Saturday, February 6, 2016

First Look: WHAT SHE NEVER TOLD ME by Kate McQuaile

Originally from Drogheda, now living in London, Kate McQuaile’s debut novel of psychological suspense WHAT SHE NEVER TOLD ME (Quercus) is set in Ireland. To wit:
I talked to my mother the night she died, losing myself in memories of when we were happiest together. But I held one memory back, and it surfaces now, unbidden. I see a green postbox and a small hand stretching up to its oblong mouth. I am never sure whether that small hand is mine. But if not mine, whose?
  Louise Redmond left Ireland for London before she was twenty. Now, more than two decades later, her heart already breaking from a failing marriage, she is summoned home. Her mother is on her deathbed, and it is Louise’s last chance to learn the whereabouts of a father she never knew.
  Stubborn to the end, Marjorie refuses to fill in the pieces of her daughter’s fragmented past. Then Louise unexpectedly finds a lead. A man called David Prescott . . . but is he really the father she’s been trying to find? And who is the mysterious little girl who appears so often in her dreams? As each new piece of the puzzle leads to another question, Louise begins to suspect that the memories she most treasures could be a delicate web of lies.
WHAT SHE NEVER TOLD ME will be published on March 3rd.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Publications: Irish Crime Fiction 2016

Herewith be a brief list of Irish crime fiction titles published / to be published in 2016, a list I’ll be updating on a regular basis throughout the year. To wit:

DEAD SECRET by Ava McCarthy (January 14)
BLOOD AND WATER by Siobhain Bunni (January 19)
RAIN DOGS by Adrian McKinty (January 21)

BURIED by Graham Masterton (February 11)
THE DROWNED DETECTIVE by Neil Jordan (February 25)
BISHOP’S DELIGHT by Patrick McGinley (February 29)

PENANCE by Kate O’Riordan (March 1)
WHAT SHE NEVER TOLD ME by Kate McQuaile (March 3)
A SAVAGE HUNGER by Claire McGowan (March 10)
PIMP by Ken Bruen & Jason Starr (March 18)
THE PLEA by Steve Cavanagh (March 24)
SIREN by Annemarie Neary (March 24)
SISTERS AND LIES by Bernice Barrington (March 26)
BLACK ROSE DAYS by Martin Malone (March 31)

ALL THINGS NICE by Sheila Bugler (April 4)
THE DRESSMAKER by Sam Blake (April 7)
A TIME OF TORMENT by John Connolly (April 7)

THE CITY IN DARKNESS by Michael Russell (May 5)
DISTRESS SIGNALS by Catherine Ryan Howard (May 5)
THE LAST DAYS OF SUMMER by Vanessa Ronan (May 5)

GIRL UNKNOWN by Karen Perry (June 2)
TREACHEROUS STRAND by Andrea Carter (June 2)
LYING IN WAIT by Liz Nugent (June TBC)

PARADIME by Alan Glynn (August 2)
SO SAY THE FALLEN by Stuart Neville (August 4)
THE TRESPASSER by Tana French (August 11)
THE CONSTANT SOLDIER by William Ryan (August 25)

THE WONDER by Emma Donoghue (September 8)

  NB: Publication dates are given according to Amazon UK, and are subject to change.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

First Look: A SAVAGE HUNGER by Claire McGowan

Claire McGowan’s A SAVAGE HUNGER (Headline) is the fourth in the Northern Ireland-set crime series featuring forensic psychologist Paula Maguire. To wit:
Victim: Female. Twenty-two years of age.
  Reason for investigation: Missing person.
  ID: Alice Morgan. Student. Last seen at a remote religious shrine in Ballyterrin.
  Alice Morgan’s disappearance raises immediate questions for forensic psychologist Paula Maguire. Alice, the daughter of a life peer in the Home Office, has vanished along with a holy relic - the bones of a saint - and the only trace is the bloodstains on the altar.
  With no body to confirm death, the pressure in this high-profile case is all-consuming, and Paula knows that she will have to put her own life, including her imminent marriage, on hold, if they are to find the truth.
  A connection to a decades-old murder immediately indicates that all may not be as it seems; as the summer heat rises and tempers fray, can Alice be found or will they learn that those that are hungry for vengeance may be the most savage of all?
  A SAVAGE HUNGER will be published on March 10th. Claire McGowan has been acclaimed as “Ireland’s answer to Ruth Rendell” by no less an authority than Ken Bruen. For more on Claire McGowan, clickety-click here

Monday, January 25, 2016

Review: NIGHT MUSIC by John Connolly

All good fiction incorporates an investigation of one kind or another, which may account in part for the enduring popularity of the crime / mystery novel. John Connolly is best known for his Charlie Parker novels, set in Maine and featuring a private eye who lives in a world tinged by the supernatural. By contrast, Connolly’s short stories – Night Music is his second collection; the first, Nocturnes, was published in 2004 – tend to foreground the supernatural. Night Music (Hodder & Stoughton) borrows liberally from the traditions of the ghost and horror story, the fairy and folktale, and boldly goes into the unknown realms of quantum physics.
  The collection opens with the Edgar Award-winning tale of ‘The Caxton Private Lending Library & Book Depository’, a delightfully absurd story about an institution to which the memorable characters of fiction retire to live for eternity once their creators have shuffled off this mortal coil. The note of whimsy may not set the tone for the rest of the collection, but its theme – the way in which fiction can rewrite reality – certainly does.
  That theme is directly addressed in the collection’s centre-piece, ‘The Fractured Atlas – Five Fragments’. The first fragment finds the Huguenot refugee Couvret in Amsterdam, where he encounters a book “that is like being in contact with a living thing. It pulses, and smells of blood.” Each of the five fragments explores the evil potential of this book: when an investigator searching for Lionel Maulding, the missing owner of the book, mocks the possibility that the book is ‘rewriting the world’, he is told firmly that, “The world is forever being altered by books.”
  In the midst of ‘The Fractured Atlas’ is the collection’s finest moment, the novella-length and M.R. James-influenced ‘The Wanderer in Unknown Realms’, in which the WWI veteran searching for Lionel Maulding might be experiencing the world being redrafted by an evil tome; equally, he might be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder brought on by the horrors he witnessed in the trenches.
  Other elements from Connolly’s fiction resurface during the collection. ‘Razorshins’, set in Maine, is a story that draws upon the folklore of the great North Woods as Connolly resurrects the mythical ‘wendigo’. The fascination with theoretical physics Connolly explores in his young adult novels featuring Samuel Johnson returns in ‘The Wanderer in Unknown Realms’, as the author references William James’ concept of ‘the multiverse’; in ‘The Children of Dr Lyall’, set in London during WWII, Connolly explores an existential kind of horror in a story that blends abortion and quantum physics.
  Elsewhere, ‘The Hollow King’ offers a return to ‘the Universe of The Book of Lost Things’, an offshoot from the standalone novel published in 2006 that goes to the dark heart of the fairytale form to evoke Charles Perrault. ‘On The Anatomization of an Unknown Man (1637) by Frans Mier’ is pure Edgar Allen Poe; ‘Lazarus’ goes back to the New Testament for its inspiration, as the resurrected Lazarus, adrift and zombie-like, fears that “some great wrong has been committed in the name of pity and love.” ‘The Haunting’, meanwhile, is the boldest statement of intent title-wise; in fact, it’s a love story, and one of the most affecting in the collection.
  In a collection crackling with invention and ambition, Connolly saves the best for (almost) last. ‘Holmes on the Range’ is a very funny offshoot from ‘The Caxton Private Lending Library and Book Depository’, in which Sherlock Holmes arrives at the library in the wake of his infamous death at the Reichenbach Falls, only to belatedly discover that his creator, Arthur Conan Doyle (as countless authors have done since), has begun to rewrite his character. Is it conceivable that the immortal Holmes and Watson might – gasp! – be ‘replaced at some future date by alternative versions of themselves’?
  The rest, as they say, is history …

  This review was first published in the Irish Examiner.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Publication: BLOOD AND WATER by Siobhain Bunni

BLOOD AND WATER (Poolbeg Press) is Siobhain Bunni’s second novel, following on from DARK MIRRORS (2013). Quoth the blurb elves:
Meet the Bertrams . . . William the celebrated politician, conniving father and devious husband. Barbara, his long-suffering wife who laces her day with alcohol so she can hide from herself. And their children: Sebastian, a successful businessman defending his realm; Enya, the grieving prodigal daughter returned from self-imposed exile; Cormac, a sex addict with delusions of his own prowess; Ciara, an emotional drama queen who like a little lost puppy just wants to be loved; Rian, the damaged bird who looks to fix everyone else around him before fixing himself. The Bertrams tell their lies and tolerate each other, not because they want to but because they have to: they re family. But when their simmering tensions reach boiling point they discover that life has a way of letting slip even the most closely guarded secrets. Then it s payback time for the Bertrams as events conspire to put an end to the biggest lie of all. A riveting tale of intrigue, love, manipulation and family bonds.
  BLOOD AND WATER is published on January 19. For more, clickety-click here

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

First Look: PENANCE by Kate O’Riordan

Kate O’Riordan publishes her sixth novel, the psychological thriller PENANCE (Constable), on March 1st. To wit:
“You know I did a terrible thing. What you cannot know is that there exists an extreme irony, in that, but for one unforgivable sin - far more terrible things might have transpired.”
  The lives of Rosalie Douglas and her teenage daughter, Maddie, are changed forever when they meet Jed, a beautiful, charismatic young man at Bereavement Counselling. Inexplicably and self-destructively, Maddie holds herself accountable for her brother’s drowning accident in Thailand.
  Jed moves into their lives and their home. Calming the tensions between mother and daughter. He understands the twisted wilderness of grief. Lover and confidante to a besotted Maddie, gentle surrogate son to a grateful Rosalie - on the surface their lives are transformed. But underneath a deadly and morally corrupt triangle is taking shape ...
  Rosalie commits an unspeakable act which forces her to unravel the truth behind the beautiful stranger in their midst. The truth behind the death of her son. And the true extent of just how far she’s prepared to go - to save what remains of her family.
  London-based Kate O’Riordan grew up in the west of Ireland. An award-winning author, she has also written for stage and screen. For more, clickety-click here

Monday, January 18, 2016

First Look: BISHOP’S DELIGHT by Patrick McGinley

Patrick McGinley publishes BISHOP’S DELIGHT (New Island) next month, with the blurb elves wibbling thusly:
“All a politician needs to know about hacks is that the best story wins. They’re only entertainers who’ve wrapped themselves in the flag of truth…”
  Taoiseach Jim Maguire has disappeared under suspicious circumstances. Two rival journalists, Kevin Woody and Tony Sweetman, struggle to find the best story to tell about Maguire’s vanishing act.
  As Woody and Sweetman navigate their turbulent personal lives while trying to keep the story of Maguire’s disappearance alive for another day, it begins to emerge that there may have been more to the missing Taoiseach than his political career. What is the truth about Maguire, and what is the mysterious Bishop’s Delight?
  BISHOP’S DELIGHT shows novelist Patrick McGinley at his mesmerising best, showcasing his formidable literary style, his ever-present dark humour and his uncanny ability to explore uncomfortable truths.
  BISHOP’S DELIGHT will be published on February 8th. For all the details, clickety-click here
  For a review of Patrick McGinley’s COLD SPRING (2013), clickety-click here