“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.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Crying Game

The column of crime fiction reviews published last week in the Irish Times included new titles from Lindsey Davis, Donna Leon and Owen Fitzstephen. This being an Irish crime fiction blog, however, I’ll give you the review of Mark O’Sullivan’s CROCODILE TEARS, which ran a lot like this:
An award-winning Irish author of children’s books, Mark O’Sullivan turns his hand to adult crime fiction with CROCODILE TEARS (Transworld Ireland, €16.99).
  The story opens with Det Insp Leo Woods being called to the scene of a violent death in the plush Dublin suburb of Howth, where he discovers that Dermot Brennan, a builder-developer, has been bludgeoned to death. A revenge attack for a development that has become a ghost estate? A crime of passion perpetrated by a jealous husband?
  The possible motives are many, and the subplots come thick and fast, but O’Sullivan can spin plates with the best of them, and the story, which feasts on headline-friendly drama, fairly races by.
  Leo Woods is a memorable character, physically disfigured by Bell’s palsy and no less distinctive in terms of personality, a commanding presence in the professional sphere but dangerously prone to gaffes and misjudgements in his private life. A sympathetically flawed rogue – he has his local drug dealer on speed dial – Woods is elevated above the run-of-the- mill police detective by O’Sullivan’s sublime prose, which flashes with shards of poetry when least expected.
  Studded with dark humour, elegant in style and clever in its execution, CROCODILE TEARS is a remarkably assured first outing. – Declan Burke
  For the rest, clickety-click here

Friday, April 19, 2013

Lord Of The Ring

If there’s a fault with Paul O’Brien’s sequel to the wrestling noir epic BLOOD RED TURNS DOLLAR GREEN – and let’s face it, I’d be a schmuck not to find fault with my peers at every opportunity – it’s a paucity of imagination when it comes to the title. For lo! Said sequel is called BLOOD RED TURNS DOLLAR GREEN, VOL. 2. Erm, Paul? I’m buying you a thesaurus for Christmas.
  That aside, BRTDGV2 looks a lively contender. Quoth the blurb elves:
1972 and Danno Garland stands atop the wrestling business. After years of planning, backstabbing and shady handshakes, he controls the World Heavyweight Champion and most of the territories where he can wrestle. In Danno’s business, the man who controls the Champion controls the money and the power that goes with that honour.
  Battle after battle and Danno’s finally made it to the top of his closely guarded, cash business.
  And it means absolutely nothing.
  Not now. Not anymore. Not since he was informed of what happened in that small hotel room in Texas.
  F*ck the business.
  Lenny Long has just skipped out on Danno’s territory for a different life with his family. After spending too long on the road he wants to re-introduce himself to his young children. But before he can truly settle out west, he needs to make things right in New York.
  And he’s going to do it by returning a bag full of money to its rightful owner. A move that lands Lenny in the middle of a bloody clash to protect the secrecy, and the continued survival of the longest con in American history.
  Problem is, they’re now trying to protect it from Danno Garland.
  For those of you interested in such things, BRTDGV1 garnered some very impressive plaudits, among them Eoin Colfer’s and wrestling legend Mick Foley’s. For all the details, and lots more info, clickety-click on Paul O’Brien’s interweb lair.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Doctor Will See You Now

It’s unusual for a thriller writer to take an extended sabbatical, so it comes as some surprise to learn that it’s been five years since Dr Paul Carson published BETRAYAL [insert gag here about the doc’s readers having ‘patience’ – Ed.]. Carson returns to the fray later this year with INQUEST, although I’m not entirely sure of the publication date – the press release says INQUEST will be published in trade paperback by Arrow in September, although according to Amazon, the book will be available as early as June. Quoth the blurb elves:
Dr Mike Wilson is Dublin City Coroner, investigating violent, unusual, unexplained or unnatural deaths.
  One case worries Wilson a lot.
  Back in 2009, Patrick Dowling was found hanging in woodland. There was an initial flurry of police activity that ended with the autopsy result: suicide.
  After studying the file Wilson is convinced someone was involved. He believes Dowling was murdered.
  INQUEST is the story of a city, its coroner, his court and one suspicious death.
  To read a short sample from INQUEST, clickety-click here

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Meanwhile, Back At The Station …

Northern Ireland author John McAllister will launch his new novel, THE STATION SERGEANT (Portnoy Publishing), on May 1st at No Alibis Bookstore in Belfast – that’s a Wednesday, by the way, with events kicking off at 6.30pm. Quoth the blurb elves:
When unpopular farmer Stoop Taylor is found dead in a field his death triggers events that threaten to destroy Station Sergeant Barlow’s comfortable life. Barlow battles local hoodlums, the Dunlops, who are stealing cattle to order, and searches for a traumatised German soldier at large. As the body-count mounts, Barlow finds that his personal problems have multiplied as well. His schizophrenic wife turns violent, his daughter is growing up too fast, and the new District Inspector wants him demoted and transferred. To top it all off Barlow falls in love with another woman. Station Sergeant Barlow has one mission: to protect his community and those he loves. And to do that Barlow must put himself in harm’s way.
  For a quick Q&A with John McAllister, clickety-click here

Monday, April 15, 2013

THE BIG O: It’s A Steal* At $2.99

I hope all is well, folks. The latest update is that I’m still engaged in a death-grapple with the final draft of the forthcoming CRIME ALWAYS PAYS, but fear not – I’m bound to win, because I have hands and the manuscript does not, thus minimising its grappling / strangling potential. I reckon another couple of days should do it …
  In the meantime, in a bid to drum up some interest in the forthcoming CAP, I’ve slashed the price of the e-book versions of THE BIG O and EIGHTBALL BOOGIE (from $4.99 / £4.99 to $2.99 / £2.99) for the next couple of weeks. If you’re on Twitter or Facebook, and have the time and inclination to do so, I’d be very grateful if you’d copy-and-paste the snippet below.
THE BIG O and EIGHTBALL BOOGIE by @declanburke are currently retailing at $2.99. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00BQL3PNQ
  If you’re not on Twitter or Facebook, or if you don’t have the time or the inclination, then no harm done. We won’t fall out …
  Finally, my fellow author Laurence O’Bryan (THE JERUSALEM PUZZLE) was kind enough to host some of my ramblings on the subject of humour in crime fiction over at his interweb lair. If you’re interested, said lair can be found here.

  * Technically speaking, not a steal.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

On Mozart, Crab Cakes And Literary Snobs

I had that conversation again last week, the one that many crime / mystery readers and writers are familiar with when the topic turns to books and a certain kind of reader feels the need to assert his or her literary credentials. It included the phrase, “Oh, I don’t really read that sort of thing …” and contained a class of a sighing smirk between the ‘Oh’ and the ‘I’, and just the featheriest of light emphasis on the ‘I’, all of which was designed to promote the idea that said person was above all that robbery and murder and rape, but – in the interests of harmony – too polite to remind me of their innate superiority.
  I genuinely feel sorry for these people. I mean, it used to bug me. Now I just feel sorry for them.
  The reason why crystallised about forty minutes later, on the bus heading home. I’m on a bit of a classical music binge at the moment, and was listening to some Schubert on the iPhone, and it occurred to me that anyone who says they read only literary fiction – crime, romance, sci-fi or whatever being beneath them – is akin to someone saying they love music, but only listen to classical music.
  Now, I can understand why someone might say that. You could spend a whole lifetime listening to Mozart and Beethoven and Schubert and Chopin and Rachmaninov, et al. The music is fabulous – beautiful and awe-inspiring and heartbreaking and everything music should be.
  And yet, if you confined yourself only to classical composers, you’d miss out on The Stones and Dylan, The Beatles and Hank Williams and Dusty Springfield and Leonard Cohen and The Smiths and Antony and the Johnsons and Rollerskate Skinny and the Sex Pistols – well, you see where I’m going. And that’s without getting into soul, the blues, jazz, etc.
  Or what if someone was to say to you, “I love art, but only the impressionists. That Renaissance stuff is all a bit gaudy, isn’t it?” I mean, you’d be entitled to believe they simply didn’t know what they were talking about, wouldn’t you?
  And on it goes, in virtually any realm of the arts you want to choose. How could you call yourself a movie fan, say, if you confine yourself to a single genre?
  Ironically, anyone who tells you that they read only literary fiction is also conveying a subtext relating to their superior intelligence. That their sensibilities are so delicate and refined that only the finest of prose can tickle their fancy. The truth is a little more prosaic, and rooted in ignorance.
  The brain, that very fine organ, is a selfish bugger. And it’s in its best interests to make you as much of a moron as it can. That’s because the brain is designed to conserve energy at every opportunity in order to prolong its longevity – this is why humans are creatures of habit, slaves to routine and schedule. The brain hates it when we encounter new scenarios, thus forcing it to map new paths through the maze, get a whole heap of fresh synapses fusing. The brain much prefers it when a reader, say, sticks to a particular kind of book, a distinct kind of storytelling. And if the brain needs to persuade the reader that sticking to that kind of book means that he or she is a superior human being, well, the brain only needs to map out that particular path once.
  Personally, I’m of the opinion that life’s too short to read only one kind of book, or listen to only one kind of music, or eat one kind of food, or look at one kind of art. I’m a bit greedy that way – I want a taste of everything. I’ll be a long, long time dead, and I’d hate to be out there drifting in the vast, trackless wastes of eternity thinking, ‘Crap, I should’ve tried the crab cakes, just once.’