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 11, 2007

Funky Friday’s Free-For-All: In Which ‘Fab’ Vinnie Browne Opens A Can Of ChateauNeuf du Pape Whup-Ass On Bertie's Pert Buns

Who says crime always pays? Not when ‘Fab’ Vinnie Browne is on the prowl and coming on like Dirty Harry on a good hair day (see vid below). Will Bertie Ahern be able to – oh yes! – get his house in order before the general election kicks in, or has Vinnie finally flithered every last shred of the erstwhile emperor’s new clothes? Or, pushing the boat out, should we just elect the arm-chancing genius on the right (nope, the arm-chancer on the right, folks - the one wearing the 'Been there, bought the Taoiseach' t-shirt). What’s that you say? What do Patrick Bartholomew’s finances have to do with our stated remit of reporting on Irish crime fictions? Erm, nothing. Nothing at all. That’s all for this week, folks – y'all come back here now, y'hear?

Goodbye, Queen Of Hearts ... Hello Eoin McNamee!

An eclectic chap, that Eoin McNamee: when he's not writing spy-vs-spy potboilers as John Creed, or children's fiction in a fantasy vein, he's knocking out the occasional top-class crime thriller, such as Resurrection Man, The Blue Tango and The Ultras. So it's entirely appropriate that his next novel, due in June, is 12:23: Paris. 31st August 1997 - a date that may or may not ring a bell with fans of the former Queen of All Our Achy-Breaky Hearts, aka Diana, the Princess of Wails, sorry, Wales. "Utterly compelling, McNamee's dramatising of the conspiracies and the obsessions around the tragic events of that night is brilliant and, as ever, poetic," says David Peace. Which is nice ...

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Weekly Seamus Smyth Update: No One, But No One, Is Bigger In Japan

Question: how come Seamus Smyth's Quinn wasn't THE Irish crime fiction success of the last decade? He's big in Japan, for one - he hit the Top 3 in the Japanese critics' list two years running, 2001 and 2002, fending off the likes of Thomas Harris, Scott Turow, Michael Connelly, Denis Lehane and Jeffrey Deaver in the process, AND the London Times raved it up - "For all its lightning exposition of Quinn's swaggering amorality, this first novel proves Smyth to be a truly original, febrile talent." And as if that wasn't enough, Quinn was Crime Always Pays' inaugural Lost Classic. Like, what more does the guy have to do?

This Week We're Reading ... Sideswipe and Skinny Dip

Yep, the weather broke, damn its beautiful eyes, so we took ourselves off to the sunnier (albeit significantly seedier) climes of Florida, courtesy of Charles Willeford's Swideswipe, the second in the Hoke Moseley police procedurals ... except Hoke's bailed out of the force after a nervous breakdown. Be warned: deceptively laidback until the cataclysmic final chapters, Sideswipe is a very slow burner. "No one writes a better crime novel than Charles Willeford," says Elmore Leonard, and few of these here folks will disagree ... Anyhoo, it being so balmy in Florida, we stuck around with Carl Hiaasen's Skinny Dip, which pretty much retreads every book he's ever written but does it with some style: "a screwball delight so full of bright, deft, beautifully honed humor that it places Mr. Hiaasen in the company of Preston Sturges, Woody Allen and S. J. Perelman," says the New York Times above the racket of a host of reviewers clamouring to agree. Oh, and while we're on the subject, Hiaasen's latest, Nature Girl, is on its way ... which is nice.

Lost Classic # 74: Bogmail, Patrick McGinley

Variously reviewed as an "an unclaimed jewel of a book" and a "truly funny, witty and stunningly well-told story of murder in a small Irish village near Donegal," Patrick McGinley's Bogmail (1978) is a dark, twisted and blackly hilarious tale of rural shenanigans in the deepest, darkest Northwest(est). But don't take our word for it: Bogmail got the five-star treatment from Time Magazine, the New York Times, and sundry peers who nominated it for Best Novel at the 1981 Edgars. Which is nice. Are we hereby, forthwith and post-haste demanding its immediate republication? Bet your sweetchips, baby ...

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Quote Of The Day: Yet More Notes From A Dirty Old Man

Charles 'Hank' Bukowski - scuzzball genius, laureate of the lush and a prince among perverts - was partial to a little extra-pulped fiction, which may well be why he called his final novel Pulp (1994). Sample telephone dialogue, from page one:

"I want Celine," she said. "I've got to have him."
Such a sexy voice, it was getting to me, really.
"Celine?" I said. "Give me a bit of background. Talk to me, lady. Keep talking ..."
"Zip up," she said.
I looked down.
"How did you know?" I asked ...

Anyhoo, Hank Bukowski is our nomination for today's quote of the day - or any day, for that matter. Take it away, Hank: "When you leave your typewriter you leave your machine gun and the rats come pouring through." Amen, brother.

Nobody Move, This Is A Review: The Caller, Alex Barclay (HarperCollins) ***

Detective Joe Luchessi is back in New York after his not so restorative sojourn in Ireland, with his son severely traumatised and his marriage floundering. Now there’s also the Caller to contend with – an apparently random visitor to city apartments, who enters them with mysterious ease and proceeds to torture and kill its inhabitants … which is where some confusion sets in. The Caller, although still a fairly enjoyable read, with some taut, gripping moments, feels somewhat unfinished. It also raises more questions than it answers, and not in a thought-provoking way: Duke Rawlins still features as a shadowy figure tracking Luchessi, but this doesn’t tie in satisfactorily with the main thread of the story (the Caller’s identity), which loses momentum halfway through and chugs its way into a surprisingly dull denouement. Alex Barclay deservedly established herself as a crime writer of exceptional ability with her 2005 debut Darkhouse, but this feels like a stopgap until all is revealed next time, or else the pressure to deliver a sequel resulted in what reads at times like a lack-lustre filler. Hopefully, either way, Duke Rawlins will be back with a bang next time.–Claire Coughlan

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun. And A Corpse Or Two About The Place, Apparently

Opportunities to see the rather refined Siobhan McKenna play a loony Irish serial killer don't swing around that often, but May 16 at the IFI is the time and place to be for Daughter of Darkness, a little-known trashy thriller from 1948 that comes on like a B-movie Powell & Pressburger. "For a film of absolutely no reputation, with zero out of four in Halliwell's, directed by a man regarded with as much respect as Ed Wood, this Gothic psychodrama is really rather good," says our man at IMDB, who's obviously a little too au fait with the whole 'damned with faint praise' rigmarole ...

“Ya Wanna Do It Here Or Down The Station, Punk?” # 313: Colin Bateman

Yep, it's rubber-hose time, folks: a rapid-fire pick-'n'-mix Q&A for those shifty-looking usual suspects ...
What crime novel would you most like to have written?
The Silence of the Lambs. And I suspect it would have been funnier.
Who do you read for guilty pleasures?
Been reading Sherlock Holmes recently on holiday. Kept leaving it in the bar and the bar maid kept having to track me down. She was good.
Most satisfying writing moment?
The first book, always the first book. And the Oscar, of course. (What, did I dream that?)
The best Irish crime novel is …?
Modesty forbids. Was Wilkie Collins Irish? I read The Moonstone recently and loved it.
What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?
Modesty forbids. Certainly not The Moonstone.
Worst / best thing about being a writer?
The sex and the drugs. And the best: well, it's all a dream come true, so I'm happy.
Why does John Banville use a pseudonym for writing crime?
Because he's ashamed, and smug at the same time. Unless of course I meet him.
The three best words to describe your own writing are …?
Must try harder.

Colin Bateman's I Predict A Riot is available now at all good bookshops, and quite a few of the utterly shite ones too.

The Book Of Evidence: In Which Blandville Solemnly Swears To Tell Nothing But The Pseudonymous Truth

Is John Blandville's (right - nope, your other right) The Book of Evidence a crime novel? Hmmmmm ... The fact that it's as boring as a dog's ass suggests otherwise, but it does read like a Jim Thompson first-person psycho as redrafted by Oscar Wilde. So, maybe. The reviews gave it the the full Camus / Dostoevsky / Nabokov treatment ("Mix Dostoevsky and Camus with a little Beckett and Proust and add Banville's own originality and you have the above work of genius"), and Freddie Montgomery (very loosely based on the notorious Irish killer Malcolm McArthur) is a deliciously unreliable narrator. On the other hand, it was short-listed for the Booker and won the Guinness Peat Aviation Award, and we have the author's / narrator's knowing verdict on crime fiction implied on page 172: "The least I had expected from the enormities of which I was guilty was that they would change my life, that they would make things happen, however awful, that there would be a constant succession of heart-stopping events, of alarms and sudden frights and hairsbreadth escapes." And, well, there isn't. So, no - it's not crime fiction. Which means we still have to review Christine Falls. Bugger. Any takers?

They Say The Neville Has All The Best Tunes

Word around the campfire is that Neville Thompson has a new novel due next month, A Simple Twist of Faith - which may or may not be hinked into the Dylan tune of the same name. Thompson looked set fair when his debut, Jackie Loves Johnser, OK? sold a staggering 17,000 copies in the Irish market, and he then penned the superbly titled Two Birds / One Stoned - until those pesky contractual wrangles set in with Poolbeg, to the surprise of absolutely every writer in Ireland (ahem). Anyhoo, the way the rabidly intelleckshual Dublin Quarterly devotes the vast part of its current Big Conversation to Neville's offering of last year, Mama's Boys, is entirely post-modern, or summat, we can't keep up ... but hey, at least they're giving Irish crime fiction the respeck, yo. Which is nice ...

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

The Monday Review - But Lawks! 'Tis A Tuesday!

The rather gorgeous Alex Barclay's (left) The Caller got the Myles McWeeney treatment in Saturday's Indo, although even Myles, generally the Irish crime writer's VBF, is unusually circumspect: "(it) really needed more rigorous editing. There are too many back-references to past events, too many extraneous issues and too many characters to keep track of." Crumbs! Meanwhile, Ken Bruen's Cross got an intellectual grilling over at The Guardian last week, in which Bruen's sixth outing for former 'Guarda' (sic) officer Jack Taylor becomes a "compelling portrait of a haunted man" in a tale that's "less a whodunit than a what-to-do-about-it". Which is nice ...

Everybody Be Cool, This Is A Con

What fresh lunacy is this? Seems Dublin-based anti-hero collective CONMAN has got a movie on the go about an, erm, Dublin-based anti-hero who ... oh, just watch the bloody trailer. The critics' verdict? "CONMAN has got the movie critics agreeing on one thing – this is the nearest we’ve ever come to an Irish Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels," says, well, yep, you've guessed it ... CONMAN! Jump here for some more $uspiciously con-tastic info ...

Monday, May 7, 2007

The Embiggened O # 9,407: Hell, Even Critical Mick Has Us On His Nightstand!

You know this independent publishing blummery is getting somewhere when Critical Mick has your humble offering on the top of his nightstand reading pile (right, squint hard). Huzzah! But lo! - what's this? A review in the Irish Indo courtesy of Myles McWeeney that says something like "an out-and-out original, with crackling dialogue and sharp wit". Lummee! But stay - there's more! Yep, the current Village magazine weighs in with a full-page review that dares to suggest that The Big O is "a very funny thriller, packed tight with cracking moments and sizzling dialogue"*. Criminy! Where will it all end, people? Eh?

*In the interests of transparency, accountability, yadda-yadda-blah, we should really point out that Declan Burke writes movie reviews for Village magazine. But he's definitely not Edward O'Hare. And he hasn't paid for Edward O'Hare to have a new fitted kitchen in, oh, it must be weeks now.