“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.

Friday, April 24, 2015

One To Watch: A MAD AND WONDERFUL THING by Mark Mulholland

Set during the Troubles, A MAD AND WONDERFUL THING (Scribe Publications) is the debut novel from Mark Mulholland, and will be published on May 8th. Quoth the blurb elves:
In this passionate and heart-wrenching debut novel by Irish writer Mark Mulholland, we meet Johnny Donnelly - an intense young man who is in love with books, with his country, and with the beautiful Cora Flannery. But in his dark and secret other life he shoots British soldiers: he is an IRA sniper. How can this be? As his two worlds inevitably move towards a dramatic collision, Johnny takes us on a journey through the history, legends, and landscapes of his beloved Ireland. In the end, Johnny has to make sense of his inheritance and his life, and he does so in a riveting, redemptive, and unforgettable climax. Told in Johnny’s unique voice, and peopled by a cast of extraordinary characters, A Mad and Wonderful Thing tells its tale lightly, but pulls a heavy load. It takes us beyond the charming, familiar, and often funny experiences of everyday life to the forces that bind people together, and that set them against each other - and to the profound consequences of the choices that they make.
  As reported in the Irish Times last week, the book has already been optioned for film due to the enthusiastic support of one Liam Neeson. For the full report, clickety-click here

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Pre-Publication: EVEN THE DEAD by Benjamin Black

EVEN THE DEAD is the seventh title from Benjamin Black – aka, of course, Benny Blanco – to feature the Dublin-based pathologist Quirke. Quoth the blurb elves:
Every web has a spider sitting at the centre of it. Pathologist Quirke is back working in the city morgue, watching over Dublin’s dead. When a body is found in a burnt-out car, Quirke is called in to verify the apparent suicide of an up-and-coming civil servant. But Quirke can’t shake a suspicion of foul play. The only witness has vanished, every trace of her wiped away. Piecing together her disappearance, Quirke finds himself drawn into the shadowy world of Dublin’s elite - secret societies and high church politics, corrupt politicians and men with money to lose. When the trail eventually leads to Quirke’s own family, the past and present collide. But crimes of the past are supposed to stay hidden, and Quirke has shaken the web. Now he must wait to see what comes running out.
  EVEN THE DEAD is published on May 28th.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

News: CRIME ALWAYS PAYS Shortlisted for Goldsboro Award at Crimefest

As you might imagine, I’m absolutely delighted that CRIME ALWAYS PAYS (Severn House) has been shortlisted for the Goldsboro Last Laugh Award; as the title suggests, the award is given for comic / humorous crime fiction, and as such is something of a rarity. And the Three Regular Readers will know, of course, that I have a soft spot for this particular award because I’ve previously managed to win it, improbably enough. Anyway, the Crimefest blurb runneth thusly:
GOLDSBORO LAST LAUGH AWARD

The Goldsboro Last Laugh Award is for the best humorous crime novel first published in the British Isles in 2014. The £500 prize is sponsored by Goldsboro Books, the UK’s largest specialist in signed and/or first edition books. The winner also receives a Bristol Blue Glass vase.

The nominees are:

– Lawrence Block for The Burglar Who Counted the Spoons (Orion Publishing Group)
– Declan Burke for Crime Always Pays (Severn House Publishers)
– Christopher Fowler for Bryant & May – The Bleeding Heart (Bantam/Transworld)
– Shane Kuhn for Kill Your Boss (Little, Brown Book Group)
– Chris Pavone for The Accident (Faber & Faber)
– L. C. Tyler for Crooked Herring (Allison & Busby)

Eligible titles were submitted by publishers for the longlist, and a team of British crime fiction reviewers voted to establish the shortlist and the winning title.

CRIMEFEST annually presents a number of awards at its Gala Dinner which in 2015 will be held on Saturday, 16 May.
  The very best of luck to all the nominees, and may the funniest man win.
  For all the details on all of the Crimefest awards, including the eDunnit and Audible awards, clickety-click here

One to Watch: THE BONES OF IT by Kelly Creighton

There’s one half of Karen Perry and also Frank Golden, and now Kelly Creighton is the latest Irish poet to publish crime fiction. The Northern Ireland author publishes THE BONES OF IT (Liberties Press) next month, with the blurb running thusly:
A psychological crime thriller set in present day County Down. Twenty-two-year-old Scott McAuley, son of ex-paramilitary Duke McAuley, pens diary entries. When Scott is ousted from his politics degree course for joyriding, he returns home to live with Duke for the first time in his memory. When Scott was a baby, Duke was imprisoned for the murders of two young Catholic men, and Scott’s grandmother, Isla, became his guardian. Scott finds it difficult living with Duke now, and even more so when he starts getting paranoid that Duke is secretly seeing his ex-girlfriend.
  THE BONES OF IT is published on May 15.

Launch: THE ORGANISED CRIMINAL by Jarlath Gregory

Declan Hughes will launch Jarlath Gregory’s THE ORGANISED CRIMINAL (Liberties Press) on Thursday, April 23rd. The event takes place at 6.30pm at The Liquor Rooms, 5 Wellington Quay, Dublin 2. Quoth the blurb elves:
Spiked with black humour throughout, The Organised Criminal introduces us to Jay O’Reilly reluctantly returning to his family home. A childhood steeped in dysfunction with his family of criminals made him determined never to return, despite his attempts to leave the past behind, comes home to bid a final farewell to his recently-departed cousin Duncan. Though Jay likes to think he’s turned his back on his community, his lost past still holds a bleak fascination for him. His father, a well-known smuggler in the city with a wealthy, far-reaching empire, comes to him with a proposal. As Jay contemplates the job offer he reacquaints himself with the place and the family he left, only to find that it is exactly as hard, cold and unwelcoming as he remembered. With the anxieties and troubles of Northern Ireland as a back drop, Jay’s story becomes one of fear, family ties and self-worth. When the truth behind his father’s offer is finally revealed, Jay faces the primal struggle between familial bonds and moral obligations.
  For more on Jarlath Gregory, clickety-click here

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

News: Dennis Lehane for Listowel Writers’ Festival

Dennis Lehane (right) will appear at the Listowel Writers’ Festival on Friday, May 29th. Dennis publishes WORLD GONE BY (Little, Brown) early next month, the third in the historical crime trilogy that began with THE GIVEN DAY (2009) and continued with LIVE BY NIGHT (2012). Quoth the Festival:
Dennis Lehane grew up in Boston. His novels have been translated into more than 30 languages and have become international bestsellers and include Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone, Darkness Take My Hand and Moonlight Mile. His most recent work World Gone By, a psychologically and morally complex novel set in World War II was published March 2015. Three of his novels - Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone and Shutter Island - have been adapted into award-winning films.
  Lehane was a staff writer on the acclaimed HBO series The Wire and is a writer-producer on the fourth season of HBO’s Boardwalk Empire. His film The Drop features James Gandolfini in his last movie role. It has recently been reported in the press that Dennis has been approached to adapt the Irish crime drama Love/Hate for a US cable television network.
  Dennis Lehane will be interviewed by music and arts journalist Jim Carroll.
  For all the details, including how to book your ticket, clickety-click here

Monday, April 20, 2015

Review: A SONG OF SHADOWS by John Connolly

The 13th novel in the Charlie Parker series, John Connolly’s A Song of Shadows (Hodder & Stoughton, €22.50) opens in Maine’s remote coastal town of Boreas. Recuperating from grievous wounds sustained in his previous outing, A Wolf in Winter (2014) – Parker was declared clinically dead before being resuscitated – the private investigator is drawn into a bizarre case when an obsessive Nazi-hunter is discovered dead on a nearby beach. No stranger to evil, and still coming to terms with his experience of another realm about which “he still had questions, but no doubts,” Parker finds himself immersed in the horrors of the Holocaust, and determined that this particular evil will not thrive on his watch. Connolly has been engaged for some years now in gradually refining the supernatural and horror tropes that gave the Parker novels their distinctive identity, and A Song of Shadows, blending the language of myth and New Testament into a hardboiled tale, marks a significant shift in Parker’s metamorphosis into an explicitly Christ-like figure (“This one bleeds from the palms,” observes one of his foes). That notion has been explored before, most notably by Ross Macdonald and James Lee Burke, and while A Song of Shadows more than earns the right to be judged in such company, Connolly further appears to be breaking new ground, not least in terms of Parker’s haunting relationships with his daughters, one dead and one living. It’s a fabulous piece of work, in both senses of the word, from one of contemporary fiction’s great storytellers. ~ Declan Burke

  This review was first published in the Irish Times.

Event: The Franco-Irish Literary Festival

The 16th Franco-Irish Literary Festival takes place from April 24th – 26th, with the theme this year Crime Fiction / Festival du polar:
“The sustained popularity of the crime novel has long shown that the genre cannot be dismissed as second-class literature. From the early works of Edgar Allan Poe in the 19th century, to the recent TV series The Fall, by way of the French literary collection “Le Masque”, launched in 1927, the crime novel has always moved with the times, and today, in its many different forms, its reach extends across all layer of society. In the 1970s, the slang term “polar” was coined in France. Initially referring to the crime film genre, the term was soon universally adopted to describe the crime novel. The “polar”, this multifaceted and seldom anodyne genre, period-specific and bearing witness to all the power of the pen, is surely every bit as enigmatic and complex as the crimes and mysteries it presents to its readers.”
  Contributing authors include Stuart Neville, Sinead Crowley, John Banville and Cormac Millar on the Irish side, while France is represented by Hervé Le Corre, Chantal Pelletier, Jean-Bernard Pouy and Didier Daeninckx. The weekend will also incorporate a Crime Fiction Masterclass at the Irish Writers’ Centre hosted by Jean-Bernard Pouy.
  The events take place in Dublin Castle and at Alliance Française. For all the details on the scheduling, and how to book places, clickety-click here