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, November 9, 2007

Hurrah For Graphic Non-Violence

Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl has all requirements for a classic Hollywood anti-hero – he’s smart, sassy, and capable of a moral ambiguity that’d curl Harry Potter’s wand without ever resorting to tiresomely graphic violence, which is nice when it comes to the all-important age ratings. Now Artemis is available in graphic novel format, ingeniously titled ARTEMIS FOWL: THE GRAPHIC NOVEL – or, as we like to think of it, a movie storyboard. Quoth Publisher’s Weekly:
Written by Colfer and Andrew Donkin, with art by Giovanni Rigano, the graphic novel is based on the first book in the five-book Artemis Fowl prose series and is being published simultaneously in hardcover and paperback editions, with an initial print run totalling 100,000 copies … Colfer teamed with the experienced comic artist Andrew Donkin, whose works include BATMAN: LEGENDS OF THE DARK NIGHT (DC), to ensure the pacing was right … Together, the far-flung team has created a dark, lush, eerie world which … brings Fowl, a ne’er-do-well boy genius, his allies and his enemies to life. Information sheets, mimicking government agency surveillance files, help introduce characters and allow novices to the Fowl world to keep up. While there is always concern that fans will criticize the visual representation of characters they themselves have been imagining for years, so far … the main response from devoted readers has been “excitement.”

The Lost Art Of Connversation

He does like a good chat, yon John Connolly (right). Happily, should you ever get trapped in a stuck elevator with him, he generally has quite interesting things to say, not least about the process of writing crime fiction. Here’s a video courtesy of the Brigham City Library, in which Connolly, promoting his latest offering THE UNQUIET, waxes lyrical about, well, waxing lyrical. To wit:

The Best Things In Life Are Free … Books. From Norway.

The lovely Zoe gets in touch all the way from Random House in London to suggest we mention Jo NesbØ’s THE REDBREAST, which is the latest English translation in NesbØ’s Harry Hole series and was recently voted ‘Best Norwegian Crime Novel of All Time’. Marvellous, said we, we’ll feature the snazzy promo video and run a competition giving away some free copies. But first the latest big-up, courtesy of Norman Price on Euro Crime:
“This novel is beautifully constructed like a jigsaw puzzle in two time dimensions, blended with a discussion on the nature of treachery and collaboration. When Harry eventually solves this slick puzzle it leads to a very dramatic climax. I can heartily recommend the Harry Hole series …”
Wonderful. To win a gratis copy of THE REDBREAST, just answer the following question:
How cold does it get in Norway in winter?
(a) Cold;
(b) Very cold;
(c) How the buggery would I know? I’m tucked up beside a blazing log fire, engrossed in Jo NesbØ’s THE DEVIL’S STAR.
Answers to dbrodb(at) before noon on Monday November 12, putting ‘How the buggery would I know?’ in the subject line. And now – drum roll, please, maestro – the snazzy promo vid …

Thursday, November 8, 2007

“Ya Wanna Do It Here Or Down The Station, Punk?” # 987: Enrique Galindo Dobón

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?
THE MALTESE FALCON, by Dashiell Hammett.
Who do you read for guilty pleasures?
Frédéric Beigbeder. When I was 16, Erle Stanley Gardner – the classical novel you can write while you clean your teeth.
Most satisfying writing moment?
When you feel that you are getting it down the right way, especially at the end of a chapter, when you read it back and think, “That’s it.”
The best Irish crime novel is …?
What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?
I don’t know, but don’t call Almodóvar to shoot it, please.
Worst / best thing about being a writer?
The worst part is the promotion of the book, it’s really, really boring. I like to write books, not to talk about my book. Your opinion of my book is as valid as mine. What I have to say about my book is only my opinion. The best part is to find your book in a bookshop far away from your home. It’s really exciting.
The pitch for your next novel is …?
My Spanish city again, Castellón: dirty bars, dirty streets and dirty women.
Who are you reading right now?
MEMORIES OF MY MELANCHOLY WHORES by García Márquez. Somebody told me that my novel PELIRROJAS ESPAÑOLAS (Spanish Women with Red Hair) – a free translation – reminded them of this novel. I was curious about that.
The three best words to describe your own writing are …?
Force, simplicity and proximity.

Enrique Galindo Dobón’s PELIRROJAS ESPAÑOLAS is published by Novísima Biblioteca.

Brought To Book(er): A Disgruntled Reader Speaks

It’s always nice to get a comment or two, but Crimefic (of the rather wonderful It’s A Crime! Or A Mystery! interweb yokeybus) took the concept into a whole new realm when offering her two cents on the Man Booker Prize post below. And, given that it’s longer, smarter and far more passionate that the usual tripe we serve up, we thought it only right to repeat it in full. To wit:
“Not to detract from or devalue Anne Enright’s [pictured right, the attractive lady in the middle] win – I have not read anything on the Booker shortlist for this year - but I do think the Booker proved itself to be lacking any real excitement this year. It’s almost like “welcome and have some champagne” but the bottles had been opened 24 hrs before ... Perhaps the comments of the chairman of the judges and literary newspaper hacks served to add some fire to proceedings, but all in all it was a damp squib that caught little of readers’ imaginations and attention. Sometimes the death knell croaks and I suspect the Booker prize has faced that this year. I hope the organisers take the time to perform some navel gazing and revisit what it’s all about. Perhaps a clearer statement on objective and eligibility criteria will result. Booksellers seem hell-bent on “commercial” these days; courting and cosseting celeb authors and their ghosts. This all seems a divergence from supporting literary talent. Then the Booker embraces one or two best-selling lit authors, plus a band of what can only be described as the “obscure”. The latter may be really good and worth the promotion of being on the long or short lists, but it’s hard to be hungry for these when that’s the only balance on the lists. Mark Lawson has written an article indicating that the Booker is about pushing the spotlight onto the less known, but you won’t read that on Booker’s own web pages. Then there’s the lack of crime fiction (annually, ad infinitum). Is it so hard to cut the mustard if you write in that genre? Not sure who to chuck the accountability tag at here – the organisers, judges or the publishers who submit the novels for consideration – but there’s a group of people out there who miss the sailing of the RORO ferry every year. And hidden within the cargo on that celebratory ferry are many gems of damn good writing and storytelling. Because it’s perceived as contraband it deserves to remain outside the scope of this prize? Come on Booker, get real and broaden your horizons. The tastes of the reading public should be reflected too. They ain’t all bad, you know! Finally, am I the only one to wonder occasionally at the choice of the judges? (A question not based on this year alone, I emphasise.) That’s another area I think they should revisit. And when they present biographies of what they perceive to be “the great and the good” for those put on a pedestal for judging purposes, they might like to add why these judges qualify in the reading arena. The Booker now seems to diverge from annual event of excitement to small fry exhibit with big prize … They really need to reconnect with the reading public for next year’s round. Otherwise, I suspect, the death knell will croak again.”
Is Crimefic right or wrong? Have you enjoyed any of the Booker’s shortlist nominees this year? Have you even heard of the Booker bunfight? Pray tell, people …

Now That’s What We Call An Offer Platform # 719

Brandon Books today release James Monaghan’s (right, with Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams) COLOMBIA JAIL JOURNAL, which may or may not confirm that Monaghan, Martin McCauley and Niall Connolly – aka the Colombia Three – were amateur ornithologists who travelled to Colombia’s demilitarised zone for a spot of eco-tourism. Quoth the Brandon blurb elves:
Three Irish Republicans – James Monaghan, Martin McCauley and Niall Connolly – were arrested at Bogotá airport by the Colombian army, who alleged that they had been training FARC rebels, and were members of the IRA. Almost three years were to pass in which the three men were held in appalling conditions in several different Colombian jails, all the time in daily danger of assassination by fellow prisoners acting for right-wing paramilitaries, who had placed a price on their heads. Now, for the first time, James Monaghan tells the inside story of the Colombia Three: why they were in the demilitarised zone; what they discussed with the FARC rebels; how they survived the daily dangers of their time in prison. It is an extraordinary, unique account.
And if that all sounds a bit grim, panic not:
There are lighter moments, too, in this fascinating account, as James Monaghan struggles with his lack of Spanish and tries to avoid the attentions of a homicidal fellow inmate, while Martin McCauley bargains all around him for cigarettes and matches.
Erm, okay, it’s grim all round. But at least (spoilers alert!) there’s a happy ending …
Although found not guilty on the charges of training FARC rebels, and released, an appeal by the prosecution saw them sentenced in December 2004 to 17 years in jail. Meanwhile, however, they had gone into hiding, and by August 2005 they had made their way back to Ireland.
Incidentally, Gerry Adams is doing an Irish tour to promote AN IRISH EYE, and will be in Easons of Limerick and Cork this Saturday, November 10. For details of the Limerick, Cork, Dublin, Galway and Belfast book signings, jump over here.

Booker, Danno II: This Time It’s Personal

Spare Me The Eloquence: Declan Burke On … The Booker Prize Winner

What a difference a week makes. Sales of THE GATHERING jumped by almost 900% in the week following Anne Enright’s Booker prize win, up from 649 copies one week to 5,481 the next. Better still, the controversy over whether it was the best book in the competition or only snuck up on the inside as a result of a split vote meant Enright managed to win the sympathy vote along with a big fat cheque. I bought a copy, but only because my wife’s book group had picked THE GATHERING as next month’s excuse to polish off a few bottles of Shiraz. Will I be reading it when she’s finished? Nope. The rave reviews put me off. Practically every one of them purrs about how wonderful a writer Enright is, a fabulous stylist, an elegant wordsmith, and all that jazz. Practically none of them mention the story, which is apparently about a dysfunctional Irish family with some class of a sex abuse scandal lurking in the cupboard along with the skeletons. Now, if I want to read words in their best order, I’ll read poetry. But I don’t. When I read I like a rollicking good story, something that’ll pull me in so deep that I can’t hear the iPod of the loony behind me on the 46A, who has ‘The Final Countdown’ cranked up to 11 at eight-thirty in the morning. Besides, a lot of the reaction to the book reckoned that Enright’s win would be an inspiration to Irish literary women. Which is (a) sexist to men, (b) condescending to women, and (c) ignorant of all the brilliant women writers already out there. There’s a fantastic range of new talents in the crime fiction genre alone, and collectively they offer a bewildering diversity of story types. Tana French writes from a first-person male perspective in her police procedural INTO THE WOODS. Cora Harrison writes historical novels set in the 15th century, featuring a female Brehon judge. Arlene Hunt takes on the classic private eye style, but gives it a Moonlighting twist with her male-and-female partnership. Claire Kilroy’s novels, the latest of which is TENDERWIRE, are literary thrillers. Ingrid Black’s THE JUDAS HEART was published last week, the latest in a series of post-feminist thrillers starring an ex-FBI agent on the mean streets of Dublin. KT McCaffrey writes a cracking series featuring investigative reporter Emma Boylan, even though ‘KT’ is actually a bloke. Fine writers one and all, but with this in common – their reviews concentrate on their ability to tell a story, not their flair for a poetic phrase. Good luck to Anne Enright, and hearty congrats on her big win, but she’s too good a writer for me.

This article was first published in the Evening Herald

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

An All-Too-Swift Pure Cry

We mentioned in passing yesterday that there was a memorial service being held in Oxford for the late Siobhan Dowd (right), a wonderful person and a marvellous writer, and when it comes to Siobhan it really doesn’t matter in which order you put those attributes. Ann Giles is a long-time friend of Crime Always Pays, and she’s posted her thoughts on the service over at Bookwitch, some of which runneth thusly:
“I felt compelled to go. So I went, and I’m glad I did. There was a memorial service for Siobhan Dowd in Oxford yesterday. The Holywell Music Rooms was a beautiful place to have it. The weather was beautiful. And the celebration of Siobhan’s life and work was beautifully put together. Siobhan’s husband Geoff and friends started it off by singing Gypsy Rover. Then David Fickling (“the Lancashire Comedian”) and Fiona Dunbar did their Oscars-style presentation. Siobhan’s sisters Denise and Oona talked about their childhood, and read from a favourite book. Bella Pearson read from A SWIFT PURE CRY and Phil Earle from THE LONDON EYE MYSTERY, which just showed us again how good these books are. Geoff read a poem by Siobhan, and Meg Rosoff read an extract from Siobhan’s next book, BOG CHILD. There was a lot of music and singing. Nick Gill played Scott Joplin. Daryl Wells sang Nina Simone. And we had real Bulgarian Gypsy music from Mike Limmer and Morski. There were readings from James Joyce, Irina Ratushinskaya, Henrietta Branford, Ezra Pound and Dylan Thomas …”
It’s all very sad, especially given Siobhan’s talent – she was feted as a future ‘literary lion’ by the Sunday Times earlier this year. Still, they need storytellers in heaven too, don’t they?

The Boy Who Followed Ripley

The Crime Always Pays elves wouldn’t have thought John Boyne (left) – nominated yesterday on the long-list for the 2008 IMPAC Award for THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PYJAMAS – the most overtly crime-minded Irish author out there, although maybe we should have been tipped off by the title of CRIPPEN: A NOVEL OF MURDER. Anyhoo, it was a pleasant surprise to stumble across Boyne’s essay on Penguin’s interweb yokeybus, in which Boyne offers an insight into the inspiration behind NEXT OF KIN, to wit:
“Readers of this novel will recognise the debt that I owe to Patricia Highsmith [right] in the creation of Owen Montignac. I have always been an avid fan of Highsmith’s fiction, particularly the five Tom Ripley books, and admire the manner by which she consistently created flawed, damaged characters, capable of both extraordinary moments of cruelty and unexpected bursts of humanity. For me, Ripley is one of the most well-rounded characters in fiction and I hoped to create such a dichotomy of characteristics in Owen Montignac.”
Well said, that man. In the wonky world of Crime Always Pays’ crude understanding of algebra, ‘Patricia’ + ‘Highsmith’ = ‘Genius’.

The Best Things In Life Are Free … Books

Launched last Thursday – coincidentally on the day after Joe O’Reilly lodged 11 grounds of appeal against his murder conviction – THE SUSPECT is journalist Jenny Friel’s account of the murder of O’Reilly’s wife, Rachel, and her husband's subsequent courting of the media. Irish true crime specialists Maverick House have three copies of the book to give away, but given the tragic nature of the story involved, we’ll skip the usual half-assed attempt at a laughably unfunny question. If you’d like a copy, simply send your name and postal address to dbrodb(at), placing ‘The Suspect’ in the subject line, before noon on Friday November 9. Bon chance, mes amis …

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

“No Crime Fiction, Please – We’re Irish” # 113

We’re in something of a quandary, folks. The good news is that of the six Irish writers nominated on the long-list for the €100,000 2008 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award – Claire Kilroy, Patrick McCabe, Colum McCann, Alison Jameson, John Boyne and Michael Collins – Kilroy, Boyne and Collins tend to use crime plots to keep their pages turning. Trouble is, neither the delectable Ms Kilroy (TENDERWIRE) nor the pout-tastic Collins (THE SECRET LIFE OF ROBERT E. PENDLETON) are particularly impressed by crime fiction, while self-confessed crime nut Boyne has been nominated for THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PYJAMAS, which is acted out against the backdrop of one the greatest crimes of the 20th century but isn’t a crime novel itself. Boo, etc. Meanwhile, kudos to the Irish Times for milking every last green drop of Irishness out of the list thusly:
“Three other nominees with Irish connections are Dane, Christian Jurgensen and English writer David Mitchell, who both live in Ireland; and Canadian Peter Behren, whose novel THE LAW OF DREAMS is set during the Famine.”
Unfortunately, the Old Lady missed out on an Irish connection. But lo! The Irish Independent spotted the dropping ball and dived in to save the day, to wit:
“Another strong contender is Maggie O’Farrell [nominated for THE VANISHING ACT OF ESME LENNOX], who was born in Northern Ireland, and whose debut novel AFTER YOU’D GONE was a huge bestseller in Britain.”
Phew! That was a close one. Hearty congrats to all nominees; the shortlist and winner will be announced early next year.

“Ya Wanna Do It Here Or Down The Station Punk?” Sandra Ruttan

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?
TO THE POWER OF THREE by Laura Lippman.
Who do you read for guilty pleasures?
Since I review almost all the books I read these days I guess I’ll have to say Ian Rankin, because I won’t review the Rebus books.
Most satisfying writing moment?
When you know you’ve nailed a scene and created the exact mood or elicited the specific emotional response you were after.
The best Irish crime novel is …?
Oh, probably THE GUARDS by Ken Bruen. It’s hard, because there’s a lot of fantastic Irish crime fiction I’m discovering.
What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?
Oh, really, which one wouldn’t make a great movie? That’s probably the shorter list.
Worst / best thing about being a writer?
I love writing, so the process of creating a work and being satisfied with it (until self-doubt kicks in) is probably the best thing for me, but a close second is when someone reads the work and they get what you wanted to do with it. That’s incredible.
The pitch for your next novel is …?
When the body of a missing girl is recovered at an arson scene police suspect a link, but by the time they discover the real connection between the fires, abductions and a serial rape case it may be too late to save a child’s life and when an officer becomes the latest rape victim the cases collide, with devastating consequences. (Can I amend my answer to the worst thing about being a writer? Writing pitches. I hate writing pitches. Really, WHAT BURNS WITHIN is all about sex. Can you just say that?)
Who are you reading right now?
SATURDAY’S CHILD by Ray Banks, HEAD GAMES by Craig McDonald and EXPLETIVE DELETED, edited by Jen Jordan.
The three best words to describe your own writing are …?
I’m actually considering using a pseudonym, because I really have two personalities with my writing. Some of it is action-packed, dialogue-driven, page-turning stuff. And some of it is more emotionally charged, the kind where you don’t want to turn the page to see what happens next but can’t help yourself. What I aim for is to tell a captivating story, with tight writing and believable characters.

Sandra Ruttan’s WHAT BURNS WITHIN will be released by Dorchester in May 2008, to be followed by THE FRAILTY OF FLESH in November 2008.

The Weekly Yearly Round-Up

Yon Derek Landy is having a particularly good week. First came the gong at the Richard and Judy Kids’ Books bunfight, then the all-important review on Crime Always Pays (see below), and now SKULDUGGERY PLEASANT has fetched up on the Publisher’s Weekly Books of the Year, which comes to us via Becky’s Book Reviews. Also on the list is the late, lamented Siobhan Dowd for A SWIFT PURE CRY (right) – a poignant reminder of her wonderful talent, especially as there is a memorial service for Siobhan being held in Oxford today. No Irish crime writer made it onto the PW ‘Mystery’ list, although kudos to a long-time friend of Crime Always Pays, Richard Aleas, aka Charles Ardai of Hard Case Crime, who did with SONGS OF INNOCENCE. One other point of note: James Lee Burke’s THE TIN ROOF BLOWDOWN got the PW big-up, but in the more literary ‘fiction’ list, rather than the ‘mystery’ list. A sign of things to come in terms of crime fiction being absorbed into the mainstream, or simply a reflection of Burke’s inimitable way with a quill? YOU decide!

Nobody Move, This Is A Review: SKULDUGGERY PLEASANT by Derek Landy

Devastated by the death of her eccentric but beloved uncle Gordon, 12-year-old Stephanie is bewildered to discover that she’s been bequeathed his rambling old mansion in his will. But she’s far more astonished when she discovers that one of Gordon’s old friends, Skulduggery Pleasant, is a private detective who happens to be dead. A walking, talking, wise-cracking skeleton, Skulduggery battles the forces of evil on behalf of the mysterious but benevolent Elders, and even manages to win once in a while. But with Serpine Mevolent plotting to draw a veil of darkness over the entire universe, Skulduggery is going to need a little help on his latest case – and Stephanie, although little in stature, is just busting out all over with attitude. Comparisons are odious, but fans of Eoin Colfer’s off-beat Artemis Fowl capers are likely to find Derek Landy a kindred spirit. Skulduggery Pleasant is a hugely likeable character, one part Philip Marlowe to generous dash of skeletal Don Quixote, but while adult readers will enjoy the knowing references to classic hardboiled dialogue, younger readers will be more impressed by the savvy and self-contained Stephanie, who more than holds her own in adult company. For a debut novel (Landy was previously a screenwriter, with two comedy-horror flicks under his belt), SKULDUGGERY PLEASANT is remarkably assured, offering a seamless blend of mystery, humour and fantasy-inspired magic and mayhem. Dotted throughout with pithy, laconically understated lines (“The moon was out and the stars were twinkling and it really was a beautiful night for pain.”), this imaginative and effortlessly charming reworking of the private eye template really is a gift for kids of all ages. – Declan Burke

Monday, November 5, 2007

The Monday Review

Yet more cracking reviews for the latest Ken Bruen / Jason Starr collaboration, to wit: “What makes SLIDE a great book, of course, is the frenetic combination of Bruen and Starr, who write as if conjoined at the brain. Starr is a master at digging and probing into the molecules of the mortar that cements relationships for bad or worse, while Bruen’s ability to bring a stygian humour to the worst of humanity’s most malevolent foibles is unsurpassed. Put them together in a room, and just like the back jacket says, SLIDE may be the most shocking book you’ll ever read. It may also be one of the best,” burbles a breathless Joe Hartlaub at Book Reporter. Over at the New York Sun, Otto Penzler concurs: “The New York chapters are clearly written by Mr Starr, and the Irish chapters by Mr Bruen, and they obviously had a lot of fun writing the outrageous scenes, the over-the-top violence and obscenity, and some of the funniest dialogue this side of Elmore Leonard. The books aren’t for anyone easily offended — nor for anyone offended with difficulty, come to think of it. For the rest of us, they are a blast.” Mmm, lovely. Meanwhile, Declan Hughes’ THE WRONG KIND OF BLOOD gets a big-up at Hell Notes, to wit: “The story, while fairly standard noir, is elevated by Hughes’ prose. His experience as a playwright is evident in setting scenes that come vibrantly to life, punctuated by excellent dialogue … a high body count, plenty of violence, and, as the title indicates, much to keep the sanguinary sort of reader happy. It packs a punch to the gut, and leaves a hole in the heart.” But where’s the inevitable John Connolly mention, you cry? Here: “NOCTURNES is the book I’d recommend to anyone new to Connolly’s work. On its face, it’s not much like any of his other books, except for THE BOOK OF LOST THINGS – but it’s a sort of tasting menu of all the things that interest him as an author, and already seems to hold the germ for whatever follows,” says Answer Girl They’re still coming in thick and fast for Eoin Colfer’s ARTEMIS FOWL AND THE LOST COLONY. First up, Karissa of Karissa’s Books: “For some reason I always start reading these books with a bit of reluctance because they are, after all, kids books. A few pages into the book though I am always hooked again; this continues to be the case … This is another fun book that further enhances the Artemis Fowl series. I look forward to reading the next book in the series.” Then there’s Amy at Blog 2013: “After reading the opening chapter of this book, I couldn’t wait to continue reading. The mention of time travel really piqued my interest because this is an interesting new theme for the Artemis Fowl series.” Hurrah! A pithy hup-ya from Alice at Random Musings for Gene Kerrigan’s THE MIDNIGHT CHOIR: “Really interesting, really well written … Highly recommended.” Can’t say fairer than that … Lesley at Skeins of Books likes Tana French’s debut: “IN THE WOODS was quite compelling, though somewhat flawed … but she is a compelling writer and I will definitely look for her next book.” Over at Mostly Fiction, Sudheer Apte is bigging up Ronan Bennett’s ZUGZWANG thusly: “This is a very fast-moving novel … an intense and satisfying thriller, but more than that, it shows the impossibility of love and controlling your own destiny in times of political turmoil.” The late, lamented Siobhan Dowd’s THE LONDON EYE MYSTERY wowed Laurina at We Love Children’s Books, to wit: “I was totally immersed in this story; the characterization of Ted is particularly well written; an intelligent mystery.” Some belated reviews for Brian McGilloway’s BORDERLANDS, which we’re only finding now on his shiny new blog: “Brian McGilloway has got off to an excellent start … He has written a taut, well-paced story with strong characters and an ingenious plot that seizes the reader’s attention from page one and holds it to the last sentence. Along the way, he delivers a memorable debut novel that stands up there with the best,” trumpets Myles McWeeney at the Irish Independent, while The Book Place made it its Editor’s Choice: “BORDERLANDS has a maturity way beyond what the reader has a right to expect from a first novel … A fantastic start to a writing career that is set to flourish.” Beautiful. A swifty from Harriet Klausner at Genre Go Round Reviews for Jack Higgins’ latest: “Jack Higgins is the master of the espionage and political thriller,” and it’s onward to Sean Moncrieff’s THE HISTORY OF THINGS courtesy of Angela M Cornyn in the Sunday Independent: “This book reeled me in … It was refreshing to have a work of fiction focus on a hidden Ireland. It provided an informative, insightful, honest expose of the underbelly of the Celtic Tiger in the capital city. The book is clear-eyed, astute and always entertaining with its generous sprinkling of quirky humour, delivered with a deft hand. A cracking good read.” Finally, The Artist Formerly Known As Colin Bateman’s I PREDICT A RIOT is jazzing ’em over at Amazon UK, to wit: “As a huge fan of Colin Bateman, and as with all of his books, I would not hesitate to recommend to anyone between the ages of 12 & 70,” quoth a reader’s review, while Margaret Cannon at the Globe and Mail is tossing bouquets: “Colin Bateman is one of Ireland’s many gifts to the world of crime and mystery. I PREDICT A RIOT is one of his best, which makes it about as smart, funny and convoluted as a crime novel can get … This one is definitely not to be missed.” Lovely stuff. More carrot cake, vicar?

Along Came A Spider, Again

Found guilty of murdering her husband seven years ago, and sentenced to a mandatory life sentence, Catherine Nevin’s (right) story could be headed for a silver screen near you, according to a piece on literary agents by Alison Walsh in yesterday’s Sunday Independent. Written by Liz Walsh and Rita O’Reilly, THE PEOPLE V CATHERINE NEVIN recently secured a film option via the good works of its agent, Jonathan Williams, although no reason is offered as to why the tale of the woman dubbed The Black Widow should be considered movie material seven years on. Spare a thought, meanwhile, for Niamh O’Connor, whose THE BLACK WIDOW: THE CATHERINE NEVIN STORY actually won the battle of the best-sellers in the wake of Nevin’s conviction. Quoth the O’Brien Press blurb elves at the time:
Four years later Catherine Nevin stood in the dock and listened impassively as a jury found her guilty of murdering her husband, and guilty on three counts of soliciting others to murder. The trial had kept the entire country enthralled, as every day more bizarre stories emerged: contract killers, money laundering, the IRA, sexual affairs, plastic surgery, contacts in high places. It had all the ingredients of a bestselling thriller, but this was real life, and with a real victim.
Nope, we’re not really seeing Reese Witherspoon for the movie role …