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, March 9, 2013

It All Goes Better With An E: THE BIG O Goes Digital

The eagle-eyed among you will have noticed the arrival of a new book in the right-hand column of Crime Always Pays – or a new book cover, to be precise. For lo! A mere six years after it first appeared in print, THE BIG O is finally available as an e-book (at $4.99 / £4.99 / €4.99).
  First published by the marvellous Marsha Swan of Hag’s Head Press back in 2007 (actually, I co-published the book with Marsha, on a 50/50 costs-and-profits arrangement, and great fun it all was too), and subsequently published by HMH in the US, THE BIG O for some reason never made it into digital.
  Shortly after HMH picked it up, the editor (the wonderful Stacia Decker) who signed me moved on to pastures new with the Donald Maass Literary Agency, and THE BIG O – beautifully published in hardback though it was – became something of an orphan (pauses to sniffle, chokes back a sob).
  Anyway, I bought back the rights late last year because I’m particularly fond of the story, which is a black comedy about a kidnap-gone-wrong, and I hated the idea of it languishing in a kind of publishing limbo. It’s also true that its sequel, CRIME ALWAYS PAYS, was also stuck in said limbo, and while I did go ahead an e-publish CRIME ALWAYS PAYS, there wasn’t a huge appetite out there for the sequel to a book that wasn’t readily available.
  I’ve always felt that that was a pity, because the book did receive some very nice reviews. A sample looks like this:
“Imagine Donald Westlake and his alter ego Richard Stark moving to Ireland and collaborating on a screwball noir and you have some idea of Burke’s accomplishment.” – Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Burke has married hard-boiled crime with noir sensibility and seasoned it with humour and crackling dialogue … fans of comic noir will find plenty to enjoy here.” – Booklist

“Carries on the tradition of Irish noir with its Elmore Leonard-like style ... the dialogue is as slick as an ice run, the plot is nicely intricate, and the character drawing is spot on … a high-octane novel that fairly coruscates with tension.” – Irish Times

“Burke has [George V.] Higgins’ gift for dialogue, [Barry] Gifford’s concision and the effortless cool of Elmore Leonard at his peak. In short, THE BIG O is an essential crime novel of 2007, and one of the best of any year.” – Ray Banks

“THE BIG O is a big ol’ success, a tale fuelled by the mischievous spirits of Donald E. Westlake, Elmore Leonard and even Carl Hiaasen … THE BIG O kept me reading at speed – and laughing the whole damn time.” – J. Kingston Pierce, January Magazine
  So there you have it. As you might imagine, I’m very keen to spread the word about the e-availability of THE BIG O, so if the spirit so moves you, I’d be very grateful for any mention you could give it on your blog or Twitter account, or Facebook, or to your friends by quill and ink … Oh, and the Amazon page looks rather bare, so if you’ve read THE BIG O, and have the time to post a quick review, I’d be very grateful indeed.
  Meanwhile, if there’s anyone out there who’d like to receive a review copy of THE BIG O, just drop me a line at dbrodb[at]gmail.com.
  Thanks kindly for reading, folks. I really do appreciate your time.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Keep Calm And Carry It Off: Sophie Hannah’s THE CARRIER

I had an interview with Sophie Hannah published in the Irish Times yesterday, to mark the publication of her latest novel, THE CARRIER (Hodder & Stoughton). It opens up a lot like this:
“I’ve always loved rhyming, metrical poetry and mystery stories,” says author Sophie Hannah. “Ever since I discovered Enid Blyton and read the Secret Seven books, I can remember thinking this is what stories should do. They should have a mystery, and why would anyone want to write a story that didn’t have a mystery in it? I’ve never really changed my mind since.”
  Sophie Hannah is a very rare kind of crime author. The daughter of academic Norman Geras and the writer Adèle Geras, she was first published as a poet with the collection Early Bird Blues in 1993.
  “I’ve always loved books, and we were a very book-y family, but no, I don’t think it was always inevitable that I would be a writer,” she says. “I did get very keen on writing at a very young age, though, and throughout my whole childhood and teenage years, writing was pretty much my only hobby. I always wrote, both poems and stories.”
  Those Enid Blyton-inspired stories led to her career as a crime novelist, which began in 2006 with the publication of Little Face, but Sophie has continued to write poetry, and was shortlisted for the 2007 TS Eliot Award for her fifth collection, Pessimism for Beginners.
  In a sense, Sophie herself embodies the apparent contradiction of a poet who also writes bestselling psychological thrillers. Friendly and bubbly before we sit down in the crypt-like surroundings of the Merrion Hotel’s vaults to talk about her current novel, The Carrier, she is icily precise in her diction and choice of words once the interview begins. It’s a matter of respect for the tools of her trade.
  “I read a lot of crime fiction, and while the language is fine and does the job of telling the story, a lot of crime fiction doesn’t have an obvious flair for language,” she says. “It’s perfunctory, but it feels a bit like reading an episode of Silent Witness adapted into a novel, rather than a proper novel. I’d rather read books that aren’t like that, but the thing is that I’m addicted to mystery. So if I read a literary novel by a brilliant writer I often get impatient because not enough interesting things are happening. My ideal is a book that is brilliantly written with a proper, literary use of language, but also with a really gripping plot. That’s why I really like Tana French, or Gone Girl [by Gillian Flynn]. Properly good writers writing crime fiction that obeys all the rules of the genre, but being as original as possible within those rules.”
  For the rest, clickety-click here

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Harry Rigby: ‘A Master of Situational Ethics’

It’s not often I get a nice review in Booklist (no link, sadly – subscription only), so if it’s okay with all of you I’m going to go ahead and broadcast this review of SLAUGHTER’S HOUND in full. To wit:
Slaughter’s Hound. By Declan Burke. Mar. 2013. 384p. Dufour/Liberties, paper, $24.95 (9781907593499).

Honest jobs are hard to come by when you’re released from a mental institution after killing your brother. So Harry Rigby gets by driving a cab and delivering drugs in the Irish town of Sligo. One of his best customers is former cellmate Finn Hamilton--until the night Finn drops onto Harry’s cab from his ninth-story balcony. The police are very interested in what Harry saw that night, as are Finn’s pregnant girlfriend, patrician (and terrifying) mother, and his possibly insane teenage sister. A master of situational ethics, Harry initially has no problem getting paid to retrieve certain items from Finn’s apartment. It turns out, though, that Harry’s not the only one nosing around. He tries to keep his ex-wife and son out of the investigation, but his two worlds can’t help bleeding into one another. Burke (Absolute Zero Cool, 2012) has always been known for black humor, and he has found a wonderful new outlet for it in Harry Rigby. -- Karen Keefe
  Incidentally, if there’s anyone out there who would like to receive an e-friendly review copy of SLAUGHTER’S HOUND or its predecessor EIGHTBALL BOOGIE, please feel free to drop me a line at dbrodb[at]gmail.com. And if the spirit moves you to click the Twitter or Facebook link below, I would be very grateful indeed.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

We Love Lucy: Brian McGilloway’s Lucy Black On BBC Radio 4

I’m reliably informed that BBC Radio 4 will be broadcasting a short story by Brian McGilloway next Friday, March 8th, at 3.45pm. It will feature DS Lucy Black, who first appeared in Brian’s standalone title LITTLE GIRL LOST, and the gist runs like this:
Three new short stories, specially commissioned by BBC Radio 4 to celebrate Derry~Londonderry’s status as UK City of Culture, from some of the city’s leading literary figures. Seamus Deane, Jennifer Johnston and Brian McGilloway each bring us a new short story, recorded in front of an audience in the city’s Verbal Arts Centre.

‘The Sacrifice’ by Brian McGilloway
Grianan of Aileach is a prehistoric ring fort sitting atop Grianan hill, barely ten miles from the centre of Derry~Londonderry, yet in a different jurisdiction, a few miles over the border in the Irish Republic. So when a dead body is discovered there, bruised and half-naked, DS Lucy Black is summoned over the border to investigate how it ended up in the middle of nowhere and why.

Writer
Brian McGilloway is author of the critically acclaimed Inspector Benedict Devlin series. He was born in Derry, Northern Ireland in 1974. After studying English at Queen’s University, Belfast, he took up a teaching position in St Columb’s College in Derry, where he is currently Head of English. His first novel, Borderlands, published by Macmillan New Writing, was shortlisted for the CWA New Blood Dagger 2007 and was hailed by The Times as ‘one of (2007’s) most impressive debuts.’ Brian’s fifth novel, Little Girl Lost, which introduced a new series featuring DS Lucy Black, won the University of Ulster’s McCrea Literary Award in 2011. 2012 saw the paperback release of Little Girl Lost and the launch of the new Inspector Devlin mystery, The Nameless Dead.
  For all the details, and the audio of the story from Friday onwards, clickety-click here.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Hidden In Plain Sight: Casey Hill Returns With Another Reilly Steel Tale

HIDDEN (Simon and Schuster) is the third offering from the husband-and-wife / wife-and-husband partnership of Casey Hill, following on from TABOO (2011) and TORN (2012), the first of which was shortlisted for the crime fiction category of the Irish Book Awards in 2011. All three feature forensic investigator Reilly Steel, a Quantico-trained pro negotiating Dublin’s mean streets, and all three are very firmly in the serial killer sub-genre. To wit:
A Fallen Angel. A Devil on the Loose. When a young girl is discovered dead on an isolated Irish country road, it seems at first glance to be a simple hit and run. Then the cops see the tattoo on her back - a pair of beautifully wrought angel wings that lend the victim a sense of ethereal innocence. Forensic investigator Reilly Steel is soon on the scene and her highly tuned sixth sense tells her there is more to this case than a straightforward murder. But with almost zero evidence and no way to trace the girl's origin, Reilly and the police are at a loss. Then the angel tattoo is traced to other children - both dead and alive - who are similarly marked, and Reilly starts to suspect they have all been abducted by the same person. But why? And will Reilly get to the bottom of the mystery and uncover what links these children together before tragedy strikes again?
  The TV rights to the Reilly Steel series have been optioned by a UK production company, by the way, so expect to see her coming to a screen near you very soon. For more on Reilly Steel and Casey Hill, clickety-click here

Monday, March 4, 2013

Harry Rigby: The ‘Lost Get Back Boogie’ Years


I was ‘down home’, as we say, in Sligo last weekend, and went for a stroll on the shores of Lough Gill early on Sunday morning, which was where my good lady wife took the photograph above. It was incredibly still and peaceful, as the shot suggests, and it got me thinking about a ‘lost’ Harry Rigby novel, which is largely set around and on the lake.
  For those of you unfamiliar with Sligo’s geography, by the way, Lough Gill is about five miles from Sligo’s city centre; the Garavogue river empties out of Lough Gill and wends its leisurely way through Sligo and on out to the Atlantic.
  Anyway, I got back to Wicklow from Sligo and had a rummage through my old files, in search of the ‘lost’ Harry Rigby. And lo! It transpires that there are in fact three Harry Rigby novels gathering dust in the files, as well as a standalone thriller set in the Greek islands.
  The books were actually written when I was living in Sligo. I wrote EIGHTBALL BOOGIE, the first Harry Rigby story, while living in Dublin; when I heard it was going to be published, I thought it’d be no harm to take a little time off from the day job and write another book, to have it ready when (koff) publishing’s ravening hordes came kicking down my front door.
  And so, being single and with no great financial commitments, I took a year off and worked part-time as a teacher, and wrote a sequel to EIGHTBALL. It wasn’t published due to reasons far too boring to get into here, but by the time it wasn’t published I was two years into my sabbatical and writing like a demon. During that period I wrote the three Harry Rigby novels and the Greek islands thriller mentioned above, roughly 80% of what became ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL, and all of THE BIG O. I also wrote a heap of short stories and about two drafts of a book I like to call THE GOD OF LIGHT AND MICE, which has since received three or four more drafts, and which will be my next writing project – if I can find the time.
  In the meantime, I’m sorely tempted to publish the Harry Rigby novels as e-books. I bought back the rights to EIGHTBALL BOOGIE a couple of years ago, and e-published that, and the other three books – well, they’re just lying around gathering dust. I’ve since written SLAUGHTER’S HOUND, a Harry Rigby novel published last year by the good people at Liberties Press, but the three unpublished stories are of a piece with EIGHTBALL and SLAUGHTER’S HOUND, and would work well as a series, I think.
  Given how well EIGHTBALL has done for me as an e-book, I have to say it’s the classic no-brainer. What that then means in terms of my future vis-à-vis the publishing industry, however, I have no idea.
  I think it might be fun to find out, though.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Maid Man: Colin Bateman Takes On The Mob

Everyone’s heard of DIVORCING JACK, of course, but MAID OF THE MIST (Headline) is one of those early novels by The Artist Formerly Known As Colin Bateman that you rarely hear anyone talking about – although that should all change this coming May. Originally published in 1999, the novel is being reissued under the ‘Bateman’ brand, as the new cover suggests, with the blurb elves broadcasting thusly:
Nothing much ever happens in Niagara Falls. It is a sleepy town full of honeymooners and tourists, and that’s how Inspector Frank Corrigan likes it. He saw enough trouble as a cop in Northern Ireland. Now he’s happy dealing with parking offences and the odd drunk, although since his wife has left him and taken their daughter, ‘happy’ may not quite be the word.
  But then a reincarnated Native American princess by the name of Lelewala canoes over the Falls and survives. Or so she says. And Frank falls in love. And finds himself confronting the greatest terrorist of the age at an international gathering of drug dealers. And then the music starts …
  Funny, moving, crazy, dark and thought-provoking, this is Bateman at his brilliant best.
  For all the details, clickety-click here

The Embiggened O

As all Three Regular Readers will be aware, THE BIG O originally appeared in 2007 courtesy of Hag’s Head Press, and was then published in the US in 2008 by Houghton Mifflin. A kidnap-gone-wrong tale, it garnered some very nice reviews (see below), but a combination of factors – not least the merger between Houghton Mifflin and Harcourt – resulted in the book being holed below the waterline, commercially speaking, even before it appeared.
  Herewith be a sample of said reviews:
“Imagine Donald Westlake and his alter ego Richard Stark moving to Ireland and collaborating on a screwball noir and you have some idea of Burke’s accomplishment.” – Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Burke has married hard-boiled crime with noir sensibility and seasoned it with humour and crackling dialogue … fans of comic noir will find plenty to enjoy here.” – Booklist

“Carries on the tradition of Irish noir with its Elmore Leonard-like style ... the dialogue is as slick as an ice run, the plot is nicely intricate, and the character drawing is spot on … a high-octane novel that fairly coruscates with tension.” – The Irish Times

“Declan Burke’s THE BIG O is full of dry Irish humour, a delightful caper revolving around a terrific cast … If you don’t mind the occasional stretch of credulity, the result is stylish and sly.” – The Seattle Times

“Delightful … darkly funny … Burke’s style is evocative of Elmore Leonard, but with an Irish accent and more humour … Here’s hoping we see lots more of Declan Burke soon.” – Kansas City Star

“Faster than a stray bullet, wittier than Oscar Wilde and written by a talent destined for fame.” - Irish Examiner

“THE BIG O is everything fans of dark, fast, tightly woven crime fiction could want ... As each scene unfolds, tension mounts and hilarity ensues.” – Crime Spree Magazine
  So there you have it. It’s been a long and interesting journey for THE BIG O ever since it first appeared, and said journey takes a new twist next week when, having bought back the rights from HMH, I e-publish the novel for the very first time.
  I’ll be posting a link to the e-book next week, but for now I’m going to run a competition with a bit of a difference, and one aimed at those readers who have already read some of my books to date (EIGHTBALL BOOGIE, SLAUGHTER’S HOUND, ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL).
  The idea is that, if you’ve read any of those books, and have the time and inclination to post a review to Amazon, Goodreads, etc., then you’ll be entered into a draw to win one of five signed hardback first edition copies of THE BIG O.
  If you’ve already reviewed a book of mine, of course, or posted about one on your blog or website, then you automatically qualify.
  All I need you to do is post the link to your review / blog post etc., in the comment box below. Naturally, I’d be very grateful if you could find it in your heart to click the Twitter button, give it a mention on Facebook, et al …
  The competition will be open until noon on Thursday, March 7th. Et bon chance, mes amis