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, June 8, 2007

Funky Friday’s Free-For-All: The Interweb Mash-Up That All The Other Mash-Ups Call ‘Creamy Potatoes’

The June edition of Thuglit is on the interweb streets, folks, with stories by Keiran Shea, Ed Lynskey and Geoff Hyatt (among others) jammed between its electronic covers. The better news is that Thuglit has scored a publishing deal with Kensington Books, which has agreed to publish three annual Thuglit anthologies, kicking off in spring 2008. Jump over to Outside Left for an interview with founder-editor Todd ‘Big Daddy Thug’ Robinson (above) … The third annual Kinsale Arts Week runs from July 7-15, and boasts a heavy crime fiction presence. Actually, no: the best we can say is that John Boyne will cruise into town on his new yacht to do a reading in the Friary Space – more details as they arrive … Bookwitch gives the glad eye to Siobhan Dowd’s The London Eye Mystery, which was launched yesterday, June 7 … Meanwhile, over at Contemporary Nomad, Kevin Wignall reflects on what it means to be nominated for the CWA’s short story Dagger. You may or may not be shocked to discover that he’s ‘honoured just to be nominated’ … Fans of Michael Collins (left) can catch an interview with the mean ‘n’ moody one at Orion Books, while the vid below represents the absolute worst attempt at a video interview we’ve ever seen … you have been warned …

Finally, Ken Bruen has a short story, Words Are Cheap, in the first ever issue of Murdaland (‘Crime fiction for the 21st Century’, it says on the tin). Sir Kenneth of the Tribes is also interviewed by Reed Farrell Coleman over at Mystery Readers International in their ‘At Home’ series, in which he holds forth about the whole blogging malarkey, to wit:
RFC: On the whole, do you feel that the internet and the blogosphere has been beneficial for writers? Or do you feel that much of the time people spend blogging would be better spent doing work?
KB: It’s here to stay. I blog on Murderati twice a month purely to stop the evil vile shite the blogs are currently pushing, and I took the gig to put it back to writing, books and all of that. What the rest do … way I see it bro, you need to thrash somebody and you think doing it publicly on a blog is the way, God freakin’ help you.
Amen, brother. And that’s it for another week, folks – thanks for stopping by, and y’all come back now, y’hear?

Sad Song Says So Much

And there was us thinking we had all the Vincent Banville stuff you could ever want to own (including the toenail clippings we salvaged from his wheelie bin late one inspired and possibly drunken night) – but lo! We’d never been told about the novella, Sad Song! Just goes to show, folks, you’re in the hands of degenerate ignorami … Anyhoo, the novella is a small but perfectly formed private eye John Blaine tale, is available on audio (dive into this rabbit-hole for a sample), and comes complete with a short-‘n’-sweet big-’em-up, to wit: “Gripping, funny and stripped to the bone, Sad Song is a short novel that packs a punch like a fist in a velvet glove.” Which is nice … if you like being punched velvetly.

Critical Mick: He Takes The Mick, Not Prisoners

The word from Critical Mick’s dank lair is that there’s a review of Andrew Nugent’s The Four Courts Murders on the way, and if you’re wondering why that’s such good news, you obviously haven’t encountered Mick’s inimitable style yet. Here’s the Mickster on Hugo Hamilton’s Headbanger, for example:
“Hugo Hamilton has been praised and anthologized so I figured he was one of those pretentious literary shits. Suddenly I came face to balaclava’d, kebab-smeared face with one of his novels. Hey! Hugo Hamilton is a Headbanger! … A bit like Taxi Driver, except he’s driving a Garda patrol car … Bashing style into the crime thriller genre, Headbanger packs goofball rage, bizarre insight, attitude and kebab flavour into one fast, funny smack of a 230 page read. No superior literary airs, just damn fine writing.”
Oh, and there’s a .mp3 version of the review to go along with that. Mick? If you’re reading this, we’ll be over with our monthly protection moolah later tonight. Get the Snakebites on ice.

Flick Lit # 21: Build My Gallows High / Out Of The Past

“He didn’t hear the gun when Guy shot him because he was dead.” – Geoffrey Homes, Build My Gallows High
Build My Gallows High (1946) opens as fly-fisher Red Bailey is joined by his fresh-faced amour, Ann Miller, high in the idyllic Rocky Mountains. Within three pages, however, blackmailed into repaying a favour to an ex-cop gangster, former PI Bailey is prowling the shadowed canyons of New York and San Francisco. There he encounters more of his old associates: the partner he duped, the gangster he double-crossed, the woman who left him for dead. Quickly realising that the gangster, Whit Sterling, is framing him for murder, Bailey struggles to escape. But there is no escaping the past: “Even if he was a worthy citizen full of good deeds and honours, it wouldn’t matter.” Geoffrey Homes’ (aka Daniel Mainwaring) terse prose represents the epitome of pulp fiction’s hard-boiled style. The laconic delivery and fatalistic tone encompass the existential ennui employed by the genre’s writers as a perverse counterpoint: that of the futility of action in a milieu defined by action. Jacques Tourneur (Cat People (1942), I Walked With a Zombie (1943) and Nightfall (1956)) and his cinematographer Nick Marcuso invested the 1947 movie with the ominous, unsettling undertones of a nightmarish hallucination. The flashback sequences, for which the film is justifiably famous, were already an essential element of Homes’ novel; the writer – with uncredited help from James M. Cain – adapted his own story to screenplay format. As was the case with Casablanca, Out of the Past was a routine B-movie, made on a small budget by a team working under contract, in this case to RKO. That team included Tourneur, Marcuso and Jane Greer as femme fatale Kathie Moffit (nee Mumsie McGonigle); it also included Kirk Douglas, who played Bailey’s nemesis Whit Sterling, and the peerless Robert Mitchum. The role of Red Bailey catapulted Mitchum into superstardom; with the possible exception of his role as the depraved preacher in Night of the Hunter (1955), it remains Mitchum’s finest performance. The combination of his nonchalant delivery, minimalist exposition and droopy-eyed, world-weary expression remains the template for the role of a man sleepwalking his way into hell. Out of the Past boasts a labyrinthine, complex plot, described by Time Out as “one of the most bewildering and beautiful films ever made.” It also features some of the sharpest dialogue in movie history, a textbook example of the oft-ridiculed voice-over narration, three masterful performances, and – in a scene involving death by fishing-rod – one of the most improbable murders you’ll ever see.- Michael McGowan

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Is This A Dagger We See Before Us?

It’s Daggers at dawn, people – not only was Kevin Wignall nominated for a CWA short story Dagger, as reported below via Sarah Weinman’s Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind, but Declan Hughes and Brian McGilloway will be schlepping down to their local tux rental emporium too. Both have been nominated for the CWA New Blood Dagger, Hughes (below, left) for The Wrong Kind of Blood (John Murray), McGilloway (above, right) for Borderlands (Macmillan New Writing) … the latter being one of our featured This Week We’re Reading tomes, which is also posted below. Coincidence? We think so, yeah. For a full list of the nominations in all categories, jump over here to the Crime Writers’ Association interweb thingy … The results will be announced on July 5 at the CWA / Duncan Lawrie Dagger Awards during a swankalicious black-tie gig at London’s Four Seasons on Park Lane, so no blagging in on the fly – unless you’re the kind whose blagging threads look very much like a tux. Bon chance, mes amis …

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

We Need To Talk About Kevin

Keep your fingers crossed for Kevin Wignall (right), people – first off, he’s been nominated for a rather prestigious Dagger in the CWA’s Short Story category, for Retrospective (Best British Mysteries, Allison and Busby). Huzzah! Not only that, Irish writer-director Eamon Costello is planning to turn another short story, The Death of Jeffers, from Dublin Noir, into a short movie ... Oh, the glamour! Meanwhile, it's only a matter of time before Wignall's For The Dogs (2004) gets the big screen treatment. Sample quote: “Anyone comes in, you shoot them. If you’re in any doubt, shoot again, keep shooting till they go down, and then shoot them in the head.” Lovely. Jump over here for the first chapter ...

Nobody Move, This Is A Review: My Dark Places by James Ellroy

This autobiographical account of Ellroy’s mother’s murder in LA in 1958, and his subsequent re-opening of the case 36 years later, was published 11 years ago. Has the intervening decade allowed it to become classic crime non-fiction? Absolutely, for the simple reason that, while crime non-fiction is plentiful enough (there are seemingly plenty of Irish writers and journalists around at the moment who are willing to write factual tomes about recent gruesome crimes), crime memoir, especially that written by popular crime novelists, is practically non-existent as a genre. That provides Ellroy fans with unparalleled insight into what motivates one crime writer: his obsession with his mother and the Black Dahlia respectively. In his hunt for clues that might lead him to Geneva Hilliker Ellroy’s killer’s identity, Ellroy explores his relationship with his parents, his mother’s secret weekend life at LA nightspots, and his subsequent obsession with her after her death, as well as his drug and booze hell. However, this colourful fiction writer somehow manages to write unspeakably dreary non-fiction. The first half of the book reads like a colourless crime report, with endless catalogues of evidence, suspects and police officers. The second part comprises the usual problem I have with autobiographies: lots of self-pity and self-indulgent rambling. While the therapeutic value of an autobiography like this is understandable, is the murdered woman not entitled to keep her secrets without having them raked up for public gratification? They are, after all, her dark secrets, not his.- Claire Coughlan

“Ya Wanna Do It Here Or Down The Station, Punk?” # 419: Cormac Millar

Yep, it’s rubber-hose time, folks: a rapid-fire Q&A for those shifty-looking usual suspects ...
What crime novel would you like to have written?
The Galton Case by Ross Macdonald. A compelling trip through family secrets, present and past, the mystery of your own identity.
Who do you read for guilty pleasures?
John Mortimer’s Rumpole books. A writer who found his groove.
Most satisfying writing moment?
Doing a line of pure iambic pentameter to round off An Irish Solution.
The best Irish crime novel is …?
Of those I’ve read, possibly The Book of Evidence by John Banville.
What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?
The Statement by Brian Moore. Nothing Irish about it, thanks be to God.
Worst / best thing about being a writer?
Worst: the impossibility of finding enough time, if you work in an endless job like mine (university teaching). Best: Setting out to say something, failing to say it, then finding you’ve said something better. But it doesn’t always work out that way.
Why does John Banville use a pseudonym for writing crime?
Fleeing his creditors? Certainly not. Because he never noticed that “John Banville” writes crime stories? Hardly. Influenced by A.A. Fair (now known to be Erle Stanley Gardner)? Perish the thought. Market segmentation? Unthinkable. The example of Salvatore Lombino (a.k.a. Ed McBain & Evan Hunter)? Don’t be vulgar. Perhaps inspired by François-Marie Arouet? Yes, I think that sounds much better. But who am I to carp? I'm somewhat pseudonymous myself.
The three best words to describe your own writing are …?
Prolix. Awful prolix.

Cormac Millar is the author of An Irish Solution and The Grounds

This Week We’re Reading … Borderlands and Clean Break

“This really is a stunning debut,” says It’s A Crime of Brian McGilloway’s opening gambit in the Inspector Devlin series. “The writing is excellent and the suspense of the plot is maintained to the end … So strong is the novel, it’s easy to imagine Morse’s Oxford and Rebus’ Edinburgh having Devlin’s Borderlands snapping at their heels.” High praise indeed, but Marcel Berlins over at The Times wasn’t to be outdone. McGilloway as joined the ‘roll of excellence’ in Irish crime fiction that includes Ken Bruen and John Connolly, he assures us: “Brian McGilloway’s command of plot and assurance of language make it difficult to believe that Borderlands is his debut… [He] tells this with style and compassion.” And there’s plenty more here where they came from … Style and compassion weren’t really Lionel White’s forte – prose as brutally blunt as a headbutt was more his thing. It’s difficult these days to dig up a Clean Break review that isn’t wibbling on about Stanley Kubrick’s The Killing, but we’ve managed to dig up a couple. “For unadorned action, suspense, and vigorous storytelling, Lionel White’s novels have seldom been surpassed,” says Bill Crider, while over here they reckon that, “For action-packed thrills, for hard-boiled, slugging adventure, The Killing is a fast-paced crime novel that won’t quit until the exciting photo finish.” The edition to your right is a complete mess inside the covers, the myriad typos and infantile layout suggesting it was photocopied from a first draft, but until they get around to republishing Clean Break, it’ll have to do. Grumble, rhubarb, etc.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

The Thick Plottens: Yep, ’Tis Another Midweek Interweb Mash-Up

Why are we telling you about the Hard Case Crime ‘vintage pulp’ stand (co-publisher Charles Ardai on the left, right) at last weekend’s Book Expo America tradeshow in New York? Because (a) we love that Hard Case Crime is republishing the likes of Gil Brewer and David Goodis AND publishing the Ken Bruen / Jason Starr collaborations (Slide is due in October), and (b) they dropped us a line and asked for a plug. Yep, it’s that easy … Maverick House release another non-fiction cracker, Kill The Tiger, which gives the inside scoop on a failed British-Australian mission to bomb Singapore Harbour with midget-subs during WWII: “This is the truth about Operation Rimau. It is written in anger, and justifiably so,” says the Daily Telegraph … Nick Laird, he of Utterly Monkey fame (or infamy, depending on your take on crime fiction) releases Glover’s Mistake in March 2008 … Spooky goings-on with John Boyne’s The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas: not only did he complete the book in a three-day burst that finished on April 30, 2004 – John’s birthday and the anniversary of Hitler’s death – but the movie of the book started shooting on April 30 this year. “The day just has these bizarre coincidences,” Boyne tells The Age … Ed Moloney’s A Secret History of the IRA (left) goes into a second edition in July: “Remarkably comprehensive yet coolly incisive ... an extraordinarily courageous and ultimately optimistic book that brilliantly elucidates past horrors,” says the Boston Globe, while the Washington Post made it ‘A Rave’: “Moloney brings a sharply intelligent reporter’s eye to a tangled history often baffling to outsiders.” … Philip Bray won the Tubridy Show / Gill and Macmillan True Story Competition ‘for his story about the horrendous, violent and sometimes humorous world of life in the prison service’ reports the Irish Indo (scroll down). Philip joined the service in 1977, working in Limerick Prison. The story stood out “as being insightful, honest and intriguing,” says Sarah Libby of Gill and Macmillan … Staying with prisons: Michael Higgins’ The Great Escape is published in the Sunday Tribune as part of the Trib’s New Irish Writing, and will now be eligible for the Hennessy Literary Awards, to be announced in April 2008. Anyone wishing to submit a story (2,500 words or less) should hit up Ciaran Carty, New Irish Writing, Sunday Tribune, 15 Lower Baggot Street, Dublin 2 … The Dublin Writers’ Festival opens on at The Project in Temple Bar on June 13, with Gerard Donovan (right) and Rose Tremain first up at 6pm. Book ahead, because Donovan’s Julius Winsome is getting the kind of reviews that should propel him into the stratosphere … Finally, FOCAP (Friend of Crime Always Pays, natch) Siobhan Dowd launches her kiddie-crime tale The London Eye Mystery tomorrow at, yep, the London Eye, and she’ll be in the Trafalgar Square Waterstone’s later in the evening for a signing if you happen to be in the vicinity. Warning: bring your own bubbly. You go, gal …

“Erm, There’s Just One More Thing, Ma’am …”

A quiet time for The Artist Formerly Known As Colin Bateman (left) at the Hay Festival, folks – some fireside chats, a nice mug of Horlicks and tucked up in his Paddington Bear jim-jams by 9pm. Or not, as the case may be … Quoth Bateman:
“Hay was fantastic – I was hanging out with Columbo! Peter Falk was a guest speaker, promoting his book of memoirs, and we – my fellow crime authors were Alex Barclay and Allan Guthrie – got to hang out with him. He’s a lot older now obviously and, er, not completely aware of everything going on around him – I was introduced three times – but he just about managed to pull off his event. Alex and I, together with our PR people, managed to get very drunk and blag our way into his sold out event by creating a ‘posse’ for Peter and strolling past the door fascists by pretending to be his entourage. Shameful behaviour, of course, but great fun.”
Corks! A drunk Alex Barclay? How come the CAP crew never get invited to all the best blag-ins? Next week: The Artist Formerly Known As Colin Bateman gets hammered with Kojak, Ironside and Streets of San Francisco-era Karl Malden!

Brought To Book # 43: Adrian McKinty on The Third Policeman

Like Samuel Beckett, Oscar Wilde and Seamus Heaney, Flann O’Brien spent his formative years in the bleak, rainy moorland of western Ulster. Someday a Ph.D. student will write a thesis explaining how this dour, sodden, landscape helped produce four of Ireland’s best and wittiest writers, but the mystery need not detain us - anyone who has ever tried to coax directions out of a County Tyrone farmer will understand why west Ulster humour is necessarily dark, laconic, labyrinthine and filled with irony. Beckett and Wilde were at the Portora Royal School in Enniskillen but O’Brien, like Heaney, was of humbler stock, born Brian O’Nolan in Omagh, in 1911. After education at parochial school Brian O’Nolan moved to Dublin, joined the Irish Civil Service and began writing, adopting not one but two pseudonyms: Flann O’Brien for his novels and Myles na Gopaleen for his column in the Irish Times. His first book was the precocious and brilliant At Swim Two Birds, a surrealistic epic of Irish country life, published in 1939. Unfortunately the world had other things on its mind in 1939 and At Swim Two Birds died the death of most debut novels. Still Flann stuck it, producing several more books including The Hard Life and The Dalkey Archive. Unlike his contemporary Samuel Beckett Flann O’Brien was not recognized as a great writer in his lifetime, either by the Nobel Prize Committee or by anybody else. However by the late 1960's At Swim Two Birds had been rediscovered as a classic and the clamour for Flann O’Brien increased after the posthumous publication of The Third Policeman in 1967. The plot of The Third Policeman is not easy to summarize, as it’s not only the most comic but also the most surrealistic Irish crime novel ever written. The one-legged unnamed hero (or anti-hero) of the story has murdered a man for the contents of a black box. The black box may contain money or a magic talisman or his soul or the key out of purgatory. The hero is being investigated by rural Irish policemen who are obsessed by bicycles and he in turn is obsessed by the ramblings of an insane college professor and the mysterious Third Policeman, who may be Satan or an Angel or God himself. I know this doesn’t sound promising but you had to be there and you should be there - the book gets odder as it goes along and funnier too. Admirers of The Third Policeman are many. It is not a stretch to suggest that Flann O’Brien is a Celtic Kafka or an Irish Borges and, as viewers of Lost have discovered, Flann O’Brien’s influence and reputation has done nothing but grow over the years. Predicting stuff is a mug’s game but I’d give Grand National odds then when The Da Vinci Code and Hannibal Lecter and even (dare I say it) Harry Potter are forgotten in the mists of time, people will still be reading The Third Policeman not for some ‘Important Books’ college course, but rather for the sheer, unbridled joy of spending a while in the company of a truly weird comic genius.- Adrian McKinty

Adrian McKinty's The Bloomsday Dead is available in all good bookshops

Black: He’s The New Black, Apparently

It may have come to your notice that we’ve been a tad harsh at times on Benjamin Black, aka John Banville, but that’s only because we’re narky, mean-spirited buggers who begrudge him (and everyone else, naturally) their success while we flail about in a quagmire of self-loathing failure. So it’s only fair that we report on the recent buzz emanating from the general direction of Christine Falls, to wit: “This seems to be his idea of an ordinary book, but it would not be anyone else’s. Christine Falls rolls forward with haunting, sultry exoticism … toward the best kind of denouement under these circumstances: a half-inconclusive one,” claims Janet Maslin over at the New York Times, while Gregory Schneider at Contemporary Literature was even more effusive: “This is an incredibly tight novel. The tension never lets up … Benjamin Black uses language on a fulcrum tilt descending earthbound compared to cool, prose mist of John Banville’s.” Muriel Dobbin at the Washington Times was a little more restrained, however: “The question may be whether the Quirke stable is gripping enough in its characterization to become anything more than a seedy dynasty … The book reads as though the author enjoyed writing it, and its meandering pace may be explained by his envisioning it as a kick-off for a Quirke saga,” but Giles Harvey, over at The Believer, is, well, a believer: “Ostensibly a ‘genre novel,’ Christine Falls actually aspires to something far more permanent, shunning the glib lubricity of most pulp fiction for more subtle pleasures. Those familiar with Banville (right) will have expected nothing less; the neophyte, however, who picks up this racy little number anticipating nothing more than a night of brisk casual thrills may soon be surprised to find himself in the grips of a literary passion he had not gambled on.” Meanwhile, the audio version of Christine Falls, with Timothy Dalton on yakking duties, gets the hup-ya from the Washington Post: “I don’t think anyone who has read much of John Banville’s intense, deeply cerebral fiction would have guessed that he could pull off a truly entertaining mystery novel, one generous with plot and pacing appropriate to the genre, one you could listen to for sheer pleasure. Yet here it is …”, while the Boston Globe weighs in with, “This is a melancholy and brooding story in which sublime descriptions evoke time, place, and mood. Banville, er, Black writes with such lyricism that he could be describing dental hygiene and still fascinate. Thankfully, his plotting equals his phrasing, and both suit the narrator, Timothy Dalton.” And there you have it – the official Crime Always Pays big-up to Benjie Black. Worry not, fellow-travelling jealous carpers – normal service will resume shortly …

Monday, June 4, 2007

No Alibis: They Just Can't Stop Giving

Is it just us, or does Eoin McNamee (right) look like something out of Thomas Hardy novel? You can judge for yourself on June 22, when Eoin fetches up at Belfast’s specialist crime bookstore No Alibis to celebrate the launch of his latest novel, 12:33 (etc.), a fictionalised account of the death of Diana Spencer, aka the Princess of Wails, as seen through the eyes of the various men deputised to keep her erstwhile highness under wraps. Will this be the novel that finally puts all those conspiracy theories to bed? Not by a metric mile … Meanwhile, not content with showcasing Eoin’s latest, No Alibis is also hosting Harlan Coben (left), who’ll be swanking around the place showing off his bright ‘n’ shiny new stand-alone, The Woods, on July 19. “Harlan Coben is the modern master of the hook-and-twist,” says Harlan’s bezzie mate, Dan Brown (who he?), “luring you in on the first page only to shock you on the last.” If it’s authors in promo vids bigging up their new books that tends to fizz your gin, shuffle over here to Harlan’s official site for a look-see …

The Route To All Evil

“Another misconception is that thrillers are not well written. Pat Mullan knocks that notion right out of the water. That he is a poet is immediately evident and when you think of that other fine poet, James Lee Burke, you’ll know you’re in the same creative territory.” So says Ken Bruen about Circle of Sodom, Pat Mullan’s (right) previous offering, so bugger knows how he’s going to top that for Pat’s up-comer, The Root Of All Evil. The novel kicked off as a short story, Tribunal, in the Bruen-edited Dublin Noir, and is currently being put to bed – expect to hear a lot more about it shortly. Meantime, here’s an interview with Pat on Up Close and Personal, where he’s intro’d as the ‘John Grisham’ and ‘Clancy’ of Ireland. But don’t let that put you off – he’s a lot closer in spirit to Jack Higgins, and that ain’t no bad thing.

The Embiggened O # 9,012: Damn, We’re Going Need A Bigger Trumpet

Another red letter day in the world of independent publishing, people – The Dubliner, bless its cotton socks, gives our humble offering The Big O the four-star treatment in its current New Poor / New Rich issue. To wit:
“I finished this book in one sitting … the dialogue is amusing and the plotting is deft. It’s a complex story, handled with some style by Declan Burke … like any good crime novel, [it] twists and turns until the very last sentence.”
All of which would have been lovelier than Arthur Lee’s rose garden if they hadn’t gone and spoiled it all by tucking a disclaimer into the middle thusly: “Disclosure: [Burke] reviews films for this magazine.” Pah, rumbled with our greasy mitts in the till. Damn their beautiful, beautiful eyes.

Rhubarb-Rhubarb-Rhubarb: Yep, It's The Latest 'Verbal', Folks

The latest edition of Verbal has hit the interweb streets, people, and it’s a jam-packed* issue. Editor (and author of Running Mates) Garbhan Downey reviews Colin Bateman’s I Predict A Riot (“A truly funny book … savour a master-writer at his mischievous best”), cover story Joe O’Connor waxes lyrical about Redemption Falls, and Anne Enright comes over all moody about stuff ‘n’ such. There’s also reviews of Sex Pistols and John Lennon biogs, a short story from Bernie McGill, some up-and-coming chick-lit writers, and Danny Morrison on ‘how to critique’. And – oh yes! – lots more! Read it NOW or yon Downey’ll come round with his sawn-off hurley. He’s like that, y’know.

* Okay, we know there’s no actual jam involved. But that’s only because they haven’t yet come up with a jam that wouldn’t screw your computer. And they’ll probably have invented that by next month.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

The Monday Review Interweb Mash-Up Thingy: Whatever You Say, Say Nothing

Less chat, more reviews, to wit: “A truly funny book, so funny in fact you will find yourself putting it down at regular intervals to give yourself a breather from laughing – or perhaps just to savour a master-writer at his mischievous best,” says Verbal about Bateman’s I Predict A Riot, while the Mirror weighs in with, “Colin’s latest foray into Belfast’s rapidly-diminishing criminal underworld is a riot of colour and absurdity, where even the bad guys are strangely loveable, and in one way or another everyone ultimately gets what they want, if not what they deserve.” Reviewing The Evidence had a gander at Brian McGilloway’s Borderlands: “This is an impressive debut, the writing is tight, the plot is complex but well paced, the characters are well drawn, the cross-border aspect was new to me, and the resolution was surprising.” Lovely … “Disregard the dull title and duller cover, this is a fabulous thriller,” says Heatseeker Reviews about Cora Harrison’s newbie, My Lady Judge, before finishing up with, “this charming book could be the start of a million-selling series.” Crikey! Here’s one we missed from the Washington Post last March, on Adrian McKinty’s The Bloomsday Dead: “ … a very Irish novel, which is to say it is jam-packed with both violence and poetry … there is a certain cosmic level at which the endless blood lust of our species is not so much tragic as comic. McKinty has tapped into this level.” And that’s a good thing, right? Cool. Meanwhile, the buzz about Tana French’s In The Woods just keeps on getting buzzier: “The Irish author’s debut is a tense thriller about a police investigation of two murdered children … there are many twists and turns, with a big surprise ending,” says the Sacramento Bee, and The Scotsman chips in with, “French writes evocatively, and with a bagful of surprises. If in the end this disappoints, it is because she shirks one of the issues with which she has repeatedly teased readers.” Yet more cracking reviews for John Connolly’s The Unquiet: “This frightening work of darkness and beauty, written by one of the true masters in the thriller and horror genres, is not to be missed,” says Book Reporter, while Publishers Weekly (“Connolly is a master of suggestion, creating mood and suspense with ease, and unflinchingly presents a hard-eyed look at the horrors that can lurk in quiet, rustic settings.”) and Booklist (“The disquieting subject, coupled with Connolly’s dark, lyrical prose, will leave unshakable images lurking on the edge of the reader’s consciousness.”) are busy bigging him up over on Amazon US … “What confirms Paul Carson’s skill as a storyteller is the delicacy and the subtlety with which he deals with the fate of Frank’s relationship with Lisa,” says the Irish Emigrant of his latest, Betrayal, while Cormac Millar’s The Grounds merited “ … no ordinary crime novel, but rather a complex, intertextual and extratextual, literary work … (a) funny and clever novel from a powerful new voice in Irish crime fiction,” from Miglior Acque last year – but better late than never, eh? Finally, Entertainment Weekly is still reeling from reading The Midnight Choir: “Gene Kerrigan builds that machine with a few too many disparate characters, but the lethal precision of his closing punches leave quite a lasting mark,” says Adam B. Vary, before awarding an A-. Phew! Scorchio!

The Real London Eye Mystery: Has Siobhan Dowd Gone And Cloned Herself?

Crikey! It’s all going (exquisitely) Siobhan-shaped, folks: not only is Siobhan Dowd’s novel for kiddie crime fans, The London Eye Mystery, being published by David Fickling on June 7, but her agency is keen to congratulate her on being nominated for Germany’s Jugendliteraturpries Award for A Swift Pure Cry – this coming in the wake of her Irish Bisto Award glory, and a short-listing for both the 2007 Carnegie Medal and the 2007 Branford Boase Award. Oh, and she’s facing into a month of being Book of the Month at Waterstone’s, God love her. Right now she’s slaving away on her fourth novel, but her third, Solace of the Road, a story about a girl who returns to Ireland to find her biological mother, is due in January 2008. Gorblimey, Guv! For an interview with the Woman du Jour, scoot on over to the Irish Post

“Ya Wanna Do It Here Or Down The Station, Punk?” # 417: KT McCaffrey

Yep, it’s rubber-hose time, folks: a rapid-fire Q&A for those shifty-looking usual suspects ...
What crime novel would you most like to have written?
Mystic River by Dennis Lehane or Asylum by Patrick McGrath.
Who do you read for guilty pleasures?
Hmmm! I’ll pass on that one.
Most satisfying writing moment?
Typing “The End” on each of the six books I’ve written.
The best Irish crime novel is …?
The Guards by Ken Bruen.
What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?
Putting all modesty to one side – “Revenge”, my first crime novel.
Worst / best thing about being a writer?
Worst: the eighth, ninth and tenth revision of each book. Best: When one of my characters begins to dictate his or her actions.
Why does John Banville use a pseudonym for writing crime?
Because he sees it as slumming, not grand enough to be considered ‘real’ writing. He’s a prick.
Three words to describe your own writing are …?
Original - Entertaining - Intelligent.

KT McCaffrey’s
Bishop’s Pawn is the latest in the Emma Boylan series

Las Señoras Y Los Caballeros, Franco Son Muertos

Las apologías por el título excesivamente dramático, gente, pero nosotros realmente desearon asir tu atención para cuál será el acontecimiento que publica de 2007, en Valencia el 16 de junio. Sí, es el lanzamiento de PELIRROJAS ESPAÑOLAS de nuestro buen amigo Enrique Galindo (derecho), una vez de Galway, de Irlanda, y ahora del soltero más elegible de España no justa, pero también de un hombre que tenga una manera muy distintiva con una pluma: “Quisiera escribir desnudo, en una pared blanca, mojando mi pene en un tintero y formando bastante las palabras en la pared, palabras tienen gusto de solidaridad, de sonrisas, del abrazo y del futuro.” ¿Cuánto lo amamos? Tanto como es posible que un grupo de hombres de hombres ame uno otro sin realmente romper ningunos leyes que pudieran estar en lugar en Tejas. Si sucedes estar en Valencia sobre las semanas próximas, incluso no incomodar el intentar entrar en contacto con a Enrique: él será el cepillar demasiado ocupado lejano de las señoras que desean sumergir en su tintero, solamente ninguna duda que lo hace de su manera rugoso hermosa y windswept generalmente. Enrique, nuestro hermano español de una diversa madre, te deseamos el mejor de la suerte irlandesa con tu libro nuevo. Ir con el dios.

They Come Not To Bury Julius, But To Praise It

Friends, Romans, countrymen and very probably assorted Martians and Venusians are drooling over Gerard Donovan’s (right) Julius Winsome, which has just been released in paperback. “A lonely man living deep in the woods in northern Maine becomes caught up in a mania of revenge and violence in this expertly paced, frighteningly tense novel by Irish author Gerard Donovan … He endows his novel with a deep understanding of the evils of which men are capable, while remaining sympathetic to Julius’s strange humanity. In this novel, the borders between human and animal, hunter and hunted, are blurred and malleable. It makes for a shocking but deeply affecting story,” says the Sunday Business Post. For once, the SPB and Sunday Independent agree. Quoth the Sindo: “The achievement is magical in this novel. Words are a whispered love token; they are also the icy, flaming burn of the bullet whose gleam darkens as it takes on its coating of rich blood on entering a body.” Further afield, the Kirkus Reviews (via the Overlook Press blog) reckons that, “Donovan’s command of language is astonishingly precise, eerily reflecting Julius’s disarmingly mild-mannered pathology as it ascribes no more importance to the cold-blooded shooting of a hunter than to going into town for groceries … Finely tooled outsider fiction, as chilling as it is ultimately humane,” while Booklist (via Amazon US) cuts to the chase: “If Jim Thompson had written literary fiction, he might have concocted a novel similar to this one.” Finally, the New Yorker offers its two cents: “In past novels, Donovan has resorted to literary effects to make points about man’s capacity for violence; here he settles for the clean punch of language, which he delivers with devastating force. In prose laced with hard-edged Shakespeareanisms … he pursues the nature of human cruelty, the reason that ‘some men must create pain in others to feel less of it themselves.’” Donovan and dusted, baby.