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, July 20, 2007

Funky Friday’s Free-For-All: We’ll Trade You Monday And Tuesday For Another Friday, Big Guy

Fleming or Phlegming? The Bond books tend to raise the hackles of the literary set – yet another reason to love them – and yet Ian 'Dirty Harry' Fleming’s (right) popularity remains undimmed. On the back of the news that Sebastian Faulks is the latest Fleming avatar, Ben Macintyre had a nice piece in the Irish Indo last week in which he defended Bond against the snobs … If free books beep your jeep, off-road over to Crime and Investigation, where they’re running a competition to win signed copies of Nick Stone’s King of Swords, or to Ray Banks’ The Saturday Boy, where they’re giving away copies of Ray’s Donkey Punch (kudos on the Billy Bragg-inspired title for the interweb page, Ray) … Southern Accent at the Southern Voice links to the Declan Hughes interview at January Magazine, to wit: “The author of a brace of highly regarded novels of Irish suspense chats with January Magazine contributing editor Kevin Burton Smith about his influences – both literary and musical – his letter from Pete Townshend and how we’re all walking in Snoopy’s shadow.” Which is lovely … except for the fact that the post is headered ‘I Like The British Writers’. Erm, Mr Accent, sir? At the risk of sounding excessively pedantic, Dec Hughes’ part of Ireland hasn’t been British for almost 85 years now. Not that we’re counting or anything … Have we mentioned that it’s officially Parry Hotter day on Crime Always Pays today? The elves can barely contain themselves, bless their little cotton socks; they do love yon speccy git Hotter. Jump over to The Scotsman for Allan Guthrie’s hard-boiled take on how the series should end. Yep, that’s the same Allan Guthrie who last night won the 2007 Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award for Two-Way Split. Huzzah! … Finally, The World’s Best Ever High School PI, Like Ever, aka Brendan Frye (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), goes head-to-head with the schoolyard bully, Brad the Jock, in the vid below. If you haven’t seen Brick yet, people, you’re doing yourself a serious disservice … And that’s it for another week. Have yourselves a very merry weekend, and don’t forget to come back here, y’all …

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Amo Amas Amant Ammo

Lawksamussy! ’Tis Friday already and we’ve hardly mentioned Shamus 2007 nominee Ken Bruen all week. For shame, Crime Always Pays elves, for shame … Anyhoo, Sir Kenneth of Bruen’s latest, Ammunition (published July 24), the seventh in the increasingly loony Brant series, has been garnering the kind of raves that have become the default reaction at this stage, to wit: “The seventh Inspector Brant noir from Shamus-winner Bruen (after 2006’s Calibre) maintains the feverish pacing that has become Bruen’s trademark … Bruen keeps this train wreck on proper course to a wholly satisfying, and very noir, conclusion,” says Publishers’ Weekly, while the Washington Post weighs in with, “It’s always a delight to discover a writer with an utterly distinctive voice … the words that best describe him, besides original, are outrageous and hilarious.” And there’s plenty more in a similar vein if you want to scoot over here

Remembrance Of Almond Buns Past

Philip Davison’s (right) The Book-Thief’s Heartbeat (1981) is one of our favourite novels of Dublin, a snapshot of a time and place long gone ever since the Celtic Tiger chewed up and spat out the old Bewley’s on Grafton Street, haven to its hero, the job-dodging, almond bun-scoffing Oliver Power. Students looking to write a thesis on the impact of the Celtic Tiger on Irish fiction might want to consider Davison as a subject: The Book-Thief’s Heartbeat was a beautifully weighted piece of whimsical comedy which sank without a trace, while his crime writing has gone from strength to strength in the last decade. “Each word in this bleakly humorous novel promises to explode and bring light to the shadows. Philip Davison’s control is that of a spymaster, deftly arranging inconspicuous elements into a thrilling whole ... Davison never fails to surprise, compel and intrigue with dry philosophy and grim wit,” reckoned the Times Literary Review of A Burnable Town (2006), while the Independent on Sunday weighed in with “Davison is at his best when he’s writing about the nuances of human behaviour … some thoroughly compelling scenes … cracking dialogue.” So when is Davison – variously compared to Graham Greene, Sam Beckett and John Le Carr√© – likely to grace us with the fifth instalment in his globe-trotting Harry Fielding series? Give us a call, Phil: we’ll hook up in Bewley’s for an almond bun.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

“Ya Wanna Do It Here Or Down The Station, Punk?” # 2,012: Paul Charles

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?
Anatomy of A Murder by Robert Traver. It’s a true classic.
Who do you read for guilty pleasures?
Anything with the magic word “Beatles” on the jacket.
Most satisfying writing moment?
Would have to be starting a new book. In this case I’m talking about the second Starrett mystery, called Family Life, which I’m currently working on.
The best Irish crime novel is …?
Anything by Colin Bateman.
What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?
A Kind of Homecoming by Eugene McEldowney.
Worst / best thing about being a writer?
The best thing is the dangerously beautiful space you fall into while working on the book. There really isn’t a worst thing; the privilege to write and be published pales any gripe into insignificance.
Why does John Banville use a pseudonym for writing crime?
To separate his work?
The three best words to describe your own writing are …?
Very, very real. I try as best I know how to keep my fiction factual.

Paul Charles’ first Inspector Starrett mystery, The Dust of Death, is published on September 4.

The Lies That Bind

A house of lies, yon Raldon Books. The Cork-based publishing house release Sylvester Young’s rather brilliant conspiracy thriller Sleeping Dogs Lie in September, but they’re not stopping there, no sirree Bob. They’ve also got the rather intriguingly titled Love, Lies and Bleeding by the even more intriguing J.S. Noon on the slate. A former cop with the Ontario Provincial Police, Justine Manley finds herself sucked into an international prostitution racket when the Canadian secret service, CSIS, force her to travel to London to liaise with MI5. Quoth Siobhan Blaney at Raldon:
“As for Love, Lies and Bleeding, it was Sylvester who put the book our way. During his research for a book in Ontario, he got talking to someone who works in the police / security fields, and who admitted to the odd scribble. Sylvester had a look at it, gave some advice and asked us to look at it and we were impressed. The one drawback is that the author’s background precludes public appearances and the like – which makes things difficult for us in these days of media-accessible novelists-cum-celebrities! Although, had circumstances for the author been different, I’m sure that a much bigger publisher would have taken it on. What impressed us about Love, Lies and Bleeding is that it brings to the reader a series of questions about love, friendship and inter-cultural relationships without ever impinging on what is a fast-paced, whodunnit, thought-provoking and sometimes funny crime story.”
Consider us intriguingly intrigued, folks. If you're interested in reading an excerpt, you can slide on over here for Chapter One ...

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

What KT Did Next, Again

A busy chap, yon KT McCaffrey (right, in full-on Sam Spade mode). No sooner had we finished reviewing his current release, Bishop’s Pawn (“a superb addition to the canon of Irish crime fiction”), than he’s back on to let us know that its sequel, The Cat Trap, is due out in November courtesy of Robert Hale. Quoth KT:
“Five women, all wealthy and with influential connections, meet once a month to set in motion a project that challenges their collective intellects. For their latest challenge, they accuse Detective Inspector Connolly of aggravated rape, then set about providing ‘compelling evidence’ to support their claim. Only investigative journalist, Emma Boylan (heroine of my five previous novels), appears to be on Connolly’s side, but her motives are questioned when it transpires that she and the detective are lovers …”
Consider us suitably intrigued, sir. But hell, do us a favour and slow down a little with the old scribbling. We’ve already burnt out two keyboards and three sets of fingertips trying to keep up …

Whoever You Tell, Tell No One

A gentle reminder, people, that Harlan Coben (right) is choppering into Belfast tomorrow evening (July 19) to do his funky thang promoting The Woods courtesy of Norn Iron’s finest crime fiction outlet, No Alibis – Harlan will be participating in a Q&A at Queen’s Film Theatre after a screening of the rather fine French movie Tell No One (Ne Le Dis A Personne), based on his novel. Grab him while you can, because he’ll be choppering straight out again, headed for the Theakston’s Old Peculier crime writing festival at Harrogate, which runs from the 19th to the 22nd. And while we’re on the subject, it’s still not too late to vote for Allan Guthrie’s rather fine Two Way Split, short-listed for the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award, if you slide on over here. Vote early and often, people: you know it makes sense …

More Irish Than The I-reich Themselves, Apparently

So there we were congratulating Peter Temple (right) on winning the CWA Dagger for Best Ever Crime Novel Of The Year, Like, Ever for The Broken Shore and in the process lamenting the fact that the surname of his long-standing hero Jack Irish is actually pronounced ‘I-reich’, when lo! We were proved wrong! By the Wizard of Oz himself! Quoth Peter:
“Declan: I’m happy to report that Jack Irish’s name is pronounced in the ordinary way. Irish is, however, a corruption of an earlier family name. Thank you for your generous words.”
Criminy! Is it possible to be simultaneously stoked, humbled and flabbergasted? And what say you now, Mr After Dark My Sweet (if that is, in fact, your real name) who peddled the erroneous info in the first place? Don’t make us go down under there, pal. You wouldn’t like us when we’re angry. You wouldn’t even like us when we’re not angry. Because we’re not likeable. You have been warned, sirrah …

Monday, July 16, 2007

Doctors Differ, Patients Die

Two interesting front-page stories from recent days, people. Monday’s Irish Times led with a story from political editor Stephen Collins, which runneth thusly:
Archbishop calls for action on crime as three die
"One of the country’s leading churchmen has described the spate of violent crime as close to a national emergency and has called on the Government to devise a new strategy to deal with the problem."
Not what you might call a good news story. Except the previous day’s Sunday Times (Irish edition) front page ran a piece from Mark Tighe and Tom Gordon that suggests ‘national emergency’ might be a little wide of the mark, to wit:
Don’t look now, but you’re in Europe’s safest country
"As surveys go it seems to fly in the face of reality, but figures to be released by the World Health Organisation (WHO) show that Ireland is the least violent country in Europe."
Which is a bit more serious than potayto / potahto, no? Anyone have any suitably wacky theories as to the discrepancy? We’re all ears …

“Ya Wanna Do It Here Or Down The Station, Punk?” # 319: Allan Guthrie

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?
My next one.
Who do you read for guilty pleasures?
That’s tough … Has to be Heat Magazine. It’s full of people I’ve never heard of, doing things I’ve no interest in. I only read it in the hope of spotting Ken Bruen one of these days. Honest.
Most satisfying writing moment?
Probably the Edgar nomination for Kiss Her Goodbye.
The best Irish crime novel is …?
My favourite is American Skin, Ken Bruen.
What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?
Off the top of my head: Alex Barclay’s The Caller, Gene Kerrigan’s Little Criminals, Bateman’s I Predict A Riot (a looong movie) and Bruen’s Her Last Call To Louis MacNeice and London Boulevard.
Worst / best thing about being a writer?
Worst: writing. Best: rewriting. Or, possibly: Worst: writing alone. Best: co-writing.
Why does John Banville use a pseudonym for writing crime?
Presumably because the books are aimed at a different market. Or maybe he just likes the idea of following in Bernard Mara / Brian Moore’s footsteps. Or it could be a contractual nicety. I haven’t a bloody clue. Go and ask him and let me know what he says.
The three best words to describe your own writing are …?
The suspense is ...

Allan Guthrie’s Hard Man is out now. And if you’re feeling particularly generous today, you can vote for Allan’s Two-Way Split in the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year award over here. Go on, you know you want to …

The Embiggened O # 1,012: We Got Mailed

Crumbs! Talk about choking on your cornflakes … There we were, quietly leafing through our Irish Mail on Sunday, when lo! we cameth upon ‘Our Guide To The Best Summer Page-Turners’. And lo-lo! our humble offering, The Big O, was among their Thrillers, to wit:
"A crime novel set in Dublin sidesteps expectations of gangland shootings and bumbling garda√≠ with characters who may have grown up on the smooth ideals of American mobster movies but are having a tricky time moving from fiction into reality. Taut dialogue and understated description lift Burke’s style above mere Elmore Leonard impersonation."
Lawks! Consider our gast well and truly flabbered, people. As for the other page-turning thriller-types, they were Alex Barclay’s The Caller, John Connolly’s The Unquiet, Matt Rees’ The Bethlehem Murders, Michael Connelly’s The Overlook, and Tana French’s In The Woods. Are we honoured and privileged to be even mentioned in such illustrious company? Ask us when we finally manage to get our gast unflabbered …

Sunday, July 15, 2007

The Monday Review

It’s Monday, so it must be the Monday Review, and by logical extension time for another cracking big-up for Arlene Hunt’s latest, to wit: “Missing Presumed Dead is an enjoyably fast-paced caper … It is rare to come across a thriller like this, which is as well written and amusing as it is gritty and suspense-filled,” says the Irish Daily Mail, which is very nice indeed … Let’s get the inevitable The Unquiet review out of the way early this week, eh? “Connolly weaves elements of the supernatural into a disturbing, very dark tale … The disquieting subject, coupled with Connolly’s dark, lyrical prose, will leave unshakable images lurking on the edge of the reader’s consciousness,” reckons Booklist (and a host of others) over here … What of Cora Harrison’s My Lady Judge, say you? “It is the sort of book that one is sad to end, as it paints such an appealing picture of how life ought to be that the series is bound to have great appeal, and run and run. If you want a feel-good read, this is definitely the feel-good book of 2007 so far,” says one of the reviewing shelves over at My Shelf … “The key to this excellent Irish police procedural is not the cops though they do a great job … Andrew Nugent provides a deep thriller in which his stars take a back seat to the support cast,” says Harriet Klausner of Second Burial … John over at Things I’d Rather Be Doing casts a critical one over Benny Blanco’s (from the Bronx) Christine Falls: “While Banville is clearly a gifted writer – his descriptions of people and places are at times breathtaking – his attempt at mimicking the verbal sleights and shadows of the best thrillers, never mind the pace, show just how difficult it is to write a gripping page-turner.” Hmmm. Much more of that and Benny’ll be sending his boys around, John … How long has it been since we mentioned The London Eye Mystery? Too long, that’s how long: “We don’t stock many hardcover books, but this one by Siobhan Dowd is one of them because it’s so good … For readers nine and above, but adults will love this too,” says Malcolm at Story Time Books “Fans of the Artemis Fowl series will be glad to know that the latest book in the group, The Lost Colony, returns to the heights of some of the previous books … Good fun regardless of your age. If you like the idea of real fairies, dwarfs, pixies, and centaurs, and you like your science current and inventive, then you’d probably enjoy the book,” says Donna at Candle Wasters, while the Bogormen (!) are in agreement: “I get more and more fond of both Artemis and Butler with each book. And the end is heartbreaking. I can’t wait for the next one.” Erm, you’ll just have to, Bogorman … Bernard Knight has been a busy reader over at Tangled Web. First he has a squint at Murdering Americans, to wit: “Another delightful satire by the author of a string of novels, each using the mystery genre to carry her outrageously iconoclastic themes … The many quotes she slips in from learned philosophers on the subject shows that she has taken the issue very seriously and that it is more than just a cynical satire meant to entertain,” he says of Ruth Dudley Edwards’ latest, and then turns his piercing gaze on Gene Kerrigan’s The Midnight Choir: “The complex plot is handled very well but it is the writing and the immaculate conveying of the atmosphere of contemporary Ireland that is this author’s strength.” Lovely … The Irish Emigrant is impressed with Thomas McShane’s true crime offering Loot: “McShane is obviously not only very knowledgeable, but also very appreciative of the various art forms, and the mixture of the higher echelons of the art world with the decidedly seedy world of the mafia and small-time criminals gives Loot an entertaining and almost filmic quality.” Can’t say fairer than that … Publishers’ Weekly likes Shamus nominee Declan Hughes’ The Colour of Blood: “Irish playwright Hughes follows up his successful contemporary crime debut, The Wrong Kind of Blood (2006), with another gripping and gritty whodunit set in his native Dublin … The sharp writing and strong local colour distinguish this novel from the common run of thrillers.” Marvellous. Finally, those krazy kids at the Irish Times are still subscription-only, so you’ll have to take our word for it that Aisling Foster was impressed with Eoin McNamee’s 12:23 (etc.), to wit: “The last section of the book is a triumph. By the end, the borderline between truth and McNamee’s imagination hardly matters … McNamee’s chronicle of a death foretold promises what one would have thought impossible – a new dimension to the mythology of her end.” And whether that’s actually a good thing or not we’ll leave up to you to decide, gentle reader …

Moore Bang For Connolly’s Book

Yet more good news for John Connolly (right) fans: Irish director John Moore (Behind Enemy Lines, The Flight of the Phoenix) has optioned the rights to last year’s The Book of Lost Things. It’s an unusual move for Connolly, who has been excessively cautious to date about allowing movie-types to get their grubby mitts on his material, particularly the Charlie Parker novels. The Book of Lost Things being a standalone, maybe Connolly figures that even if it’s a total mess it can’t do too much damage – but while Moore is a relatively young director at 37, he’s proved himself a capable pair of hands, as with last year’s workmanlike remake of The Omen. Will Connolly’s tale of a bereaved young boy who retreats into the fantasy world of his books prove the inspiration that kicks Moore upstairs into the big Hollywood leagues? Only time, that perennial doity rat, will tell.

Monday's Artistic Interlude # 203: Niall Fennessy

Niall Fennessy is a good mate of ours, and a damn fine landscape photographer to boot, but don’t take our word for it: check out his portfolio and discover how beautiful Dublin can be when viewed through the eyes of an especially gifted beholder. He also does weddings, by the way, and if you twisted his arm he’d probably do bar mitzvahs too. But we wouldn’t twist his arm. He’s a big bloke. And hard. You’ll only wind up like something out of a Weegee shot …