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.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Yessir, We Can Boogie: The Mills & Boon Years

Ah, the Book Witch (not pictured, right) – if she was just to give us a pair of magic red shoes, we’d be back in Kansas in no time. Failing that, however, we’ll just have to make do with her review of our humble offering EIGHTBALL BOOGIE, in which she compares us to Mills & Boon. Favourably, as it happens. To wit:
Ouch! How hardboiled can you get? EIGHTBALL BOOGIE by Declan Burke bounced me straight across the Atlantic and back again. If there hadn’t been the odd reference to things Irish, I wouldn’t have believed it could be anything but American.
  For two days now I’ve had an Irish Humphrey Bogart swanning around inside my head, double-crossing and getting double-crossed. I’m exhausted by the beatings and the gunshot wounds, to the extent that I believe I’ve been at the receiving end of them myself. And I’ve felt the cold, and I’ve panicked slightly over being late for Father Christmas.
  By the way, what exactly is it that’s hardboiled in hardboiled fiction? Eggs? I’ve only just started wondering about this, and realised my ignorance.
  Declan is very good with language. I’d be more concerned about him overdoing it, if I hadn’t been a regular reader of his blog, which has accustomed me to his clever and witty way of expressing more or less everything. “One eye tied behind his back,” indeed!
  The plot is pure Mills & Boon, if you know what I mean. It’s a case of you get what you want and expect, and it’s perfect. It’s an intricate web of drugs and politics and, as previously mentioned, lots of double-crossing. In fact, I completely lost the plot, amongst all the turns here and there.
  Daughter walked past and pointed out the f-word at the bottom of page 211, as it caught her eye, but I replied that it pops up around twenty times per page, so was nothing to get excited about.
  This is a great first book, which has been out a few years now. Declan’s second book, THE BIG O, was published last year. So, some lucky readers have both to look forward to. Go out and buy. - Book Witch
You heard the Book Witch, people – fly, my pretties! Fly!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Funky Friday’s Freaky Deak

It’s Friday, we’re feeling freaky, to wit: Adrian McKinty’s THE BLOOMSDAY DEAD has won the AudioFile Earphones Award. Quoth AudioFile: “A near-perfect marriage of fiction and performance, THE BLOOMSDAY DEAD is a must-listen … Forsythe is portrayed by Doyle in an intimate virtuoso performance that intensifies the taut, gritty writing. Every nuance of the protagonist’s soul lives in the read … There is never a lack of distinct personality in this soaring, tragic story.” Which is nice … Catherine O’Flynn talks chocolate and overnight success in a very sweet interview with Jason Steger at The Age … Both Siobhan Dowd and Derek Landy, for THE LONDON EYE MYSTERY and SKULDUGGERY PLEASANT, respectively, have been short-listed for the Red House Children’s Books awards … Glenn Meade conducts a thriller writing workshop at the 38th Listowel Writers’ Week, which runs from May 28 – June 1. Glenn’s workshops are always popular, so book early and often … Meanwhile, the Dublin Book Festival, which runs from March 7 – 9, will have a discussion on crime and how it’s represented in various media, with Barry Cummins, Niamh O’Connor, Paul Williams and Eamon Dillon contributing. The event takes place on Sunday, March 9, at 4pm at Dublin’s City Hall, and entry is free … The latest Carnival of Crime is currently taking place over at the essential Crime Spot, and your host is Graham Powell. Drop on over and tell him Crime Always Pays sent ya … Finally, the Denver Post is hosting the first chapter of John Connolly’s THE UNQUIET. And, leaving aside the quality of his work for a moment, if anyone is still wondering why Connolly is such a popular writer, check out the video below, in which Connolly works the crowd at Dublin’s Google offices in one of the Authors@Google series. Roll it there, Collette …

Thursday, February 14, 2008

In It For The Money

A trumpet tootle there please, maestro – it appears that Crime Always Pays has been short-listed in the ‘Best Specialist Blog’ category in the forthcoming Irish Blog Awards. For this we are entirely grateful, not least because it seems like every Irish blog got a mention in one or other of the categories, and we’d have been pretty miffed if we hadn’t got a mention somewhere along the line. There’s a ceremony planned for March 1st with tickets available over here, where we understand Damien Mulley is doing work that could only be described as Trojan. The elves are still undecided as to whether they’re going to go along, though, given that the general spirit seems to be one of unbridled generosity, self-deprecating modesty and generalised niceness, while the Grand Vizier is only in it for the money. Most importantly, however, is their outrage at the exclusion of Critical Mick from the various categories, and they’re pretty sure his wrath won’t be pretty. Is it coz he’s American? Anyhoo, here’s a list of the people who are for the most part offering more interesting and useful blogs than Crime Always Pays, to wit:
Best Specialist Blog, Sponsored by iQ Content:
The Voyage
Green Ink
The Usual Suspect
Eoin Purcell’s Blog
Piaras Kelly PR
Wood Pellet Ireland
Paddy Anglican
Oliver Moore
Lex Ferenda
Public Enquiry
Red Cardinal
Our money is on Eoin Purcell, although to be fair we can’t imagine a more specialist site than Wood Pellet Ireland. Oh, and please visit the sponsor’s site or they’ll realise there’s no money in this blogging malarkey.

In Siobhan We Trust

The news arrived last week, via Notes From The Slushpile, that Siobhan Dowd’s legacy is to be commemorated with the Siobhan Dowd Trust. Siobhan (right), tipped as a future ‘literary lion’ by the Sunday Times last year, passed away in August. Details of the trust can be found here, with the gist running thusly:
A trust has been set up to manage all the proceeds from [Siobhan’s] literary work. The aim of the trust will be to help disadvantaged children improve their reading skills and experience the joy of reading. It will offer financial support to: public libraries; state school libraries (especially in economically challenged areas); children in care; asylum seekers; young offenders and children with special needs. Cheques to be made payable to The Siobhan Dowd Trust and addressed to The Siobhan Dowd Trust, c/o Polly Nolan, Flat 10 Hendred House, Hendred Street, Oxford OX4 2ED, United Kingdom.
To give you some idea of the potential talent that was lost, Siobhan has in the last week or so been picked by The Independent as one of the authors of their ‘Ten Best Books for Teenagers’, for BOG CHILD, while she’s also been nominated, for THE LONDON EYE MYSTERY, in the Red House Children’s Books Awards. It’d break your heart, wouldn’t it?

“Ya Wanna Do It Here Or Down The Station, Punk?” # 2,097: D.B. Shan

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?

I love James Ellroy, so probably one of his. Maybe LA CONFIDENTIAL or THE BLACK DAHLIA. Though it would have been special to write THE MALTESE FALCON too ...
Who do you read for guilty pleasures?
I don’t believe in guilt when it comes to reading. Read what you like and have no shame about it!!! Having said that, if you’re talking about books that other people might look down their noses at, I guess Mickey Spillane would probably rank high on my list. He might be down ‘n’ dirty, and his so-called heroines all turn out to be nasty, stab-ya-in-the-back vixens, but he’s lots of fun!!
Most satisfying writing moment?
Finishing my first novel at the tender age of 17 was probably my most satisfying personal moment. It was no bloody good (nor were the next 6 or 7!), but I’d proven to myself that I could take a story all the way to the end. All that was left after that was working hard enough to be able to tell a good story!
The best Irish crime novel is?
One of John Connolly’s. I have all of his books, but I only came to him recently, and I’ve only read a few so far, so I’m not in a position to pick a favourite at the moment – but I’m getting through them quite quickly, so I will be soon!
What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?
Again, I’d have to go with Connolly. I think there’s great movie potential in his books – they’re crying out to get the A-grade treatment.
Worst / best thing about being a writer?
The worst thing is the isolation. You have to spend large chunks of your time by yourself, no company, no one to gossip with or discuss last night’s TV with. I miss being able to go to an office every day! The best thing is bringing stories to life which would otherwise never be told. The harder you work at writing, the more you develop, and you find yourself capable of writing stories that you never even dreamt you could tackle when you were younger.
The pitch for your next novel is?
HELL’S HORIZON (out in March 2009) is more of a straightforward crime tale than PROCESSION OF THE DEAD. A woman is murdered in a hotel. Her boyfriend is ordered by his boss (a crime kingpin) to investigate. He’s soon in over his head, and finds suspects everywhere he looks. He also comes to realise that the case ties in with his past and the death of his father. Someone’s playing with him, moving him around like a pawn piece, and it becomes much more than a case of just finding out who murdered his girlfriend. His entire life is under threat, as are the lives of those close to him ...
Who are you reading right now?
I’m currently reading THE KITE RUNNER. But I’m also working my way through the works of John Connolly and I recently began reading Meg Gardiner.
The three best words to describe your own writing are?
Twisted, twisting fun!!!

D.B. Shan’s PROCESSION OF THE DEAD will be published on March 3rd

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Nobody Move, This Is A Review: WHAT WAS LOST by Catherine O’Flynn

WHAT WAS LOST won the 2007 Costa First Novel prize and was long-listed for the Man Booker and Orange prizes. It’s a long while since I’ve read a book so well regarded by the literary critics, as, after all, I mostly read crime fiction, a genre unloved by the mainstream award givers. WHAT WAS LOST has perhaps sneaked under the judges’ radar as the mystery is pushed to the background for the major section of the novel and is mostly the catalyst for the other elements: the social commentary and the romance. It is a compelling novel and extremely readable.
  The book opens with a section told by ten-year-old Kate Meaney, a budding private investigator with her trusty stitched monkey toy as her assistant. Kate is very bright and spends a lot of time watching for crime at the Green Oaks shopping centre, a huge complex near Birmingham. She also spends time at the sweetshop next door to her home, discussing music with Adrian, the 22-year-old son of the owner. An orphan, she’s looked after (loosely speaking, it seems) by her grandmother, who wants Kate to attend a boarding school. Reluctantly Kate agrees to take the entrance exam. Adrian accompanies her to the school and that is the last anyone sees of Kate Meaney. She vanishes into thin air. Police suspicion falls on the strange relationship between Kate and Adrian and after all the gossip, Adrian leaves home, not to be seen again for 20 years.
  Jump forward 20 years to the Green Oaks Centre where we meet Lisa, a duty manager at Your Music, and Kurt, a security guard on the night shift. One night, Kurt sees a little girl on one of the CCTV monitors, a girl clutching a toy monkey. He is unable to find her though, and, later crossing paths with Lisa, she agrees to help him find her. Through their developing relationship, information long suppressed comes to the fore and helps solve the mystery of Kate Meaney.
  I couldn’t put WHAT WAS LOST down. As well as the Kate Meaney mystery, there’s a fascination to what goes on behind the scenes at a huge shopping mall; the poorly lit unpainted miles of corridors; what it sounds like when there’s no musak. The book also explores what Green Oaks meant to the local community, having been built on old factory sites and the men being forced to take menial (aka women’s) jobs, and also the current obsession with shopping. Green Oaks is as much a character as Lisa, Kurt and Kate, if not so likeable, and much of the action seems to take place in its gloomy depths. There’s also quite a lot of humour, unintentionally by Kate in her detective notebook and more obviously in Kurt’s dealings with his Green Oaks statistician security guard partner, and his attempts to avoid his eye and subsequent monologues.
  Reminiscent of Suzanne Berne’s A CRIME IN THE NEIGHBOURHOOD, I much preferred WHAT WAS LOST, not least for the fact that you do get a resolution. A bonus pleasure was the references to places I’m familiar with, e.g. Sutton Park, that I rarely come across in fiction.
  An amazing debut novel. Catherine O’Flynn will be hard pushed to top the outstanding critical reception it has deservedly received. – Karen Meek

This review is republished with the kind permission of Euro Crime

Bring Us The Heart of Hernan García

Yet another Canadian-Irish writer hoves into view above a Greenland-shaped horizon, although as usual we’re a tad tardy off the mark with Paul Durcan’s GARCIA’S HEART, which arrived on the shelves back in November. Still, better late than later, as we always say. Quoth Publishers Weekly:
Neurologist Durcan dissects the ethics involved when politics, medicine and violence collide in this finely wrought novel about a neurologist turned biotech entrepreneur who travels to The Hague to witness his mentor’s war crimes trial. Patrick Lazerenko is a punk teen in Montreal when he first meets Hernan García, the Spanish immigrant owner of a neighbourhood grocery store. Caught trying to vandalize Hernan’s store, Patrick is roped into working off the damages and soon finds himself attached to the García family. When Patrick sees Hernan’s backroom medical consultations with local immigrants, he is inspired to become a doctor himself. Years later, a journalist exposes Hernan—dubbed the Angel of Lepaterique—as having been mixed up in the CIA-backed torture of subversive citizens in Honduras in the 1980s. Parallels to Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo are acute (and even overtly identified) as Hernan is accused of witnessing and aiding in detainee torture. Subplots involving a devious political think-tank, the long-expired romance between Patrick and Hernan’s daughter and the goings-on at Patrick’s company, provide a rich backdrop to the trial, but the centrepiece is the mélange of complex feelings that arise within Patrick, who finds himself simultaneously condemning and rooting for Hernan. – Publishers Weekly
For much, much more of the same, jump on over to Liam Durcan’s interweb yokeybus. Just don’t mention Mursheen and / or pickin’ praties.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

There Will Be Bloodstorm

Norn Iron’s Sam Millar returns to the fray on March 4, when Brandon publish BLOODSTORM on March 4th. Quoth the blurb elves:
Karl Kane is a private investigator with a dark past. As a child, he witnessed the brutal rape and murder of his mother. The same man sexually molested Karl, leaving him for dead with horrific knife wounds covering his body. Years later, Karl has a chance to avenge his mother’s murder by killing the man responsible. The opportunity arises on one unforgettable Good Friday night. For reasons he later regards as cowardice, Karl allows the opportunity to slip through his hands, only to be shattered when, two days later, two young girls are sexually molested and then brutally murdered by the killer on Easter Sunday morning. Karl now holds himself responsible for their deaths.
Blimey. We know it’s grim oop North, but that’s darker than Ken Bruen’s waistcoat. And with that title looming over proceedings, it’s highly unlikely it’ll all finish up with a trip to Itchycoo Park. Sam? We’re starting a fund right now to send you to Disneyland. We’ll be in touch to let you know how it’s going once we rake off our 15% …

Monday, February 11, 2008

Sins Of Commission

Set in Northern Ireland, and focusing on the post-Peace Process landscape, David Park’s latest novel, THE TRUTH COMMISSIONERS, has been garnering some tasty reviews, to wit:
“Once the four different perspectives are fully initiated the novel’s pace quickens, increasing the suspense as the danger in the plot grows too … the final chapter of THE TRUTH COMMISSIONER re-establishes the perfect nuance between personal and political landscapes that shapes Park’s honest, and at times bleak, view of [Northern Ireland] in the present day.” – Sara Keating, Sunday Business Post

“A terrible beauty, but a powerful one for that, this is a magnificent and important book.” – Joseph O’Connor, The Guardian

“As David Park’s thoughtful and humane new novel makes clear, truth and loyalty are not easy bedfellows.” – Helen Brown, Daily Telegraph
So wot’s it all about, then? Quoth the Bloomsbury blurb elves:
Henry Stanfield, the newly arrived Truth Commissioner, is troubled by his estrangement from his daughter, and struggling with the consequences of his infidelities. Francis Gilroy, veteran Republican and recently appointed government minister, risks losing what feels tantalisingly close to his grasp. In America, Danny and his partner plan for the arrival of their first child, happily oblivious to what is about to pull him back to Belfast and rupture the life they have started together. Retired detective James Fenton, on his way to an orphanage in Romania with a van full of supplies, will soon be forced to confront what he has come to think of as his betrayal, years before, of a teenage boy. In a society trying to heal the scars of the past with the salve of truth and reconciliation, four men’s lives become linked in a way they could never have imagined. In a community where truth is often tribal and partial, the secret they share threatens to destroy what they have each built in the present. David Park pieces together these individual stories to create a powerful tale that transcends both time and place. Moving, insightful and utterly involving, THE TRUTH COMMISSIONER is an important novel from one of Ireland’s greatest writers.
Hmmmm ... Anyone else get the feeling the Bloomsbury elves would rather be reviewing novels than blurbing them?

The Monday Review

It’s Monday, they’re reviews, to wit: “She twists reality without the 10 cent words and creates mystery without overly complicating a plot. The effect is smooth … This is what I’m talking about when I say I like literary fiction that straddles the commercial line,” says Elizabeth Jote of Catherine O’Flynn’s WHAT WAS LOST at Glorious Paper Cuts. “The accolades are all well deserved … Despite the humour, the loss of sweet, sad Kate Meaney imbues every page with sorrow and regret … O’Flynn’s compassion towards her characters means that this novel is far more uplifting than it should be,” concurs Emily Maguire at the Sydney Morning Herald. Arlene Hunt’s MISSING PRESUMED DEAD gets the thumbs up from Sarah Lapsley at Verbal Magazine: “It’s an interesting premise, pulled off with panache by Hunt … What results is a roller-coaster ride of a novel – as gripping as it is gritty, with the character of Quigley often providing a welcome and likeable turn as comic relief … Hunt delivers a cracking read with this, her fourth novel.” Which is nice … Staying with Verbal, Catherine McGrotty likes Sean Mahon’s THE BLOODY NORTH – INFAMOUS ULSTER MURDER CASES: “This is gripping stuff, as compulsive and fascinating as anything from the pages of a thriller, with the added frisson that these are no mere inventions – these crimes actually happened.” Onward to the inevitable Ken Bruen big-up: “SLIDE isn’t so much a black comedy as it is a dark raucous riot running rampant through the streets destroying storefronts and giggling like cracked-out banshees,” says Brian Lindemuth at Fantasy Book Spot. They’re still coming in for Derek Landy’s SKULDUGGERY PLEASANT: “While Stephanie is not a realistic portrayal of a 12-year-old, this book is a lot of fun and just dark and mature enough to keep it interesting,” reckons Degolar at Through the Prism. Over at blog-title-of-the week Nincompooperies, Emily agrees: “It’s an action-packed fantasy that’s not Harry Potter ... In fact, I tend to think that SP would kick HP’s tuches in a darkened alley.” Jochem at Sons of Spade likes John Connolly’s THE UNQUIET: “The lyrical crime writing of Connolly compares to James Lee Burke. As always with Connolly’s Parker novels, a fantastic PI novel that shows what you can do within the genre when you respect what came before but don’t feel restricted by it. Highly recommended.” Meanwhile, Ronan O’Brien’s CONFESSIONS OF A FALLEN ANGEL gets the Irish Times treatment: “In many ways, his hero is reminiscent of Patrick McCabe’s masterful creation Francie Brady, and O’Brien even nods his acknowledgement to this precursor by having Charlie read THE BUTCHER BOY ... Is CONFESSIONS OF A FALLEN ANGEL a commentary on Celtic Tiger Ireland? Unintentionally perhaps. Is it a diverting read? Most definitely,” says Derek Hand … Spare a thought for JULIUS WINSOME: “I loved it. I’m a language freak; I’ll geek out completely when I read a well constructed sentence, and there are a plethora in this novel,” says Nick at Biblio Fool. They’re still pouring in for Tana French’s IN THE WOODS: “An engrossing book that I only took about two days to read. I cried, but then, I always cry at books. It reminded me, somehow, of THE BLACK DAHLIA … Semi-mystery, semi-cop-story, semi-drama, semi-totally-depressing-story- about-humanity-being-lame. Recommended,” says Lauren at Laurenisms. Justine at Fresh Library agrees: “Tana French does an amazing job in creating the characters and the dark, gloomy atmosphere of the woods … I highly recommend this book!” Ken Bruen has blurbed John McFetridge’s second novel, to wit: “EVERYBODY KNOWS THIS IS NOWHERE is just one hell of a read, takes off like a bullet and never lets up, like a wondrous mix of Elmore Leonard and McBain but with a dazzling Canadian slant that is as fresh as it is darkly hilarious.” Over at Richard’s World, Richard is in two minds about Benny Blanco’s THE SILVER SWAN: “I enjoyed the story, but found the writing style not to my taste. Disjointed and blunt. The general tempo is very good, but never seems fixed in time or writing style, making this book a hard read.” Andrea Sisco at Armchair Interviews likes Declan Hughes’ second Ed Loy novel: “THE COLOUR OF BLOOD is compelling. It’s dark and gritty, the characters are complex and well-developed, the plot is smooth and the setting of Ireland is rich and lush. Waiting for the next Loy novel is glorious anticipation. Hughes is quickly claiming his place in the field of exciting writing.” Finally, the late and very much lamented Siobhan Dowd’s BOG CHILD is garnering a plethora of raves. “Exquisite writing with a very matter-of-fact Irish lilt to the vernacular … and a definitive fictional account of recent history that still may not have made much of an appearance in children’s literature,” says Dove Grey Reader, while Jenny Valentine in The Times concurs: “Teenagers now have to study the Troubles in history, and Dowd will give them an invaluable insight into religious divides both old and new, through a hero who is utterly believable and wholly captivating. Most of all, it evokes rural Ireland with the clear-sighted love of an author who will be much missed, and who came into her true voice with this book.” But we’ll leave the final word to the Book Witch: “BOG CHILD is a masterpiece. I can’t think of another way to describe it.” Yes, hmmm … We were hoping for something along the lines of ‘wing of bat and eye of newt’, but we suppose ‘masterpiece’ will have to do us for now …

Mi Casa, Su Casa: KT McCaffrey on Literary Snobbery

A Grand Vizier writes: The motives behind ‘Mi Casa, Su Casa’ are twofold. First, the idea is to give guest bloggers the few molecules of oxygen of publicity Crime Always Pays can provide. Secondly, even we’re sick of listening only to ourselves, and we reckon some new voices will provide fresh perspectives on crime fiction in general, and Irish crime fiction in particular. And so, with minimum fanfare – a tiny tootle there, please, maestro – here’s KT McCaffrey (right) on – boo, hiss, etc. – literary snobbery.

Several years ago, I attended a literary gathering in the Hume Street HQ of Marino Books, my publishers at the time. Being new to the game and greener than spring cabbage, I experienced what I’ve now come to call Literary Snobbery. I should explain that Marino Books – an imprint of Mercier Press – tended to specialise in literary writing with a special emphasis on poetry. As an experiment, Marino, under the astute guidance of Jo O’Donaghue, decided to dip its toe in the mass market segment of the book trade. As I recall, myself and Terry Prone were the first to be taken on board to test this new strategy. Did it work? Well, I was never given sight of the actual sales figures so it’s hard to tell. I do know, however, that given the size of the print run, the exercise appeared to be relatively successful.
  And so it happened that all the Marino authors, staff and associates, were invited to a pre-Christmas get-together to celebrate the success of the year’s output. That particular year, my second crime fiction paperback, KILLING TIME, had notched up impressive sales, edging its way into the bottom half of the Top 10 Irish best-sellers and attracting a handful of laudatory reviews. Damn it, I had arrived. There I was, chin up, back straight, chest out, vol-au-vent in one hand, glass of red in the other, holding my own with the best of them ... or so I thought.
  Three glasses in, I was giving it large with the verbals when a tall female author, well known in literary circles (though I didn’t know that at the time) asked me if I was happy with my publisher. I said yes, in general I was happy, but annoyed that a few typos and spelling mistakes had made it on to the printed page. She seemed surprised at this and asked what kind of books I wrote.
  “Crime fiction,” I replied, my confidence boosted by the intake of wine.
  She looked at me as though I’d just farted in her face and said, “Oh, crime fiction, well of course it doesn’t really matter in that case.”
  For me, this represented the beginning of a steep learning curve in regard to the differing attitudes I’ve since encountered on planet Literati.
  I think it was about this time that playwright, Hugh Leonard, in his Sunday Independent column, bestowed his ‘Gobshite of the Year’ award to all those readers who’d bought copies of Robert James Waller’s THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY, consigning them to the status of Philistine. Never mind the fact that Clint Eastwood, who may or may not be as bright as Mr Leonard, read the book and liked it enough to turn it into an award-winning film. More recently, in similar vein, game show host Henry Kelly penned an article in which he took issue with all readers who had the audacity to read and ‘enjoy’ Dan Brown’s THE DA VINCI CODE.
  I accept that there are good books and bad books, same as there’s good art and bad art, good music and bad music. Few would argue with that. What gets me is the sheer arrogance and snobbery of those who would presume to chastise the rest of us who succumb to popular culture. I like to think I belong to the Melvyn Bragg ‘broad cultural church’ when it comes to the arts; I love the South Bank Show’s habit of showcasing such various disciplines and artistic divergence as, say, Ian Rankin and J.K. Rowling alongside Mohsin Hamid and Adam Thorp. Unlike some of his contemporary arts commentators, Bragg does not relegate crime writers to the second-division or reject a book simply because it is ‘popular’, ‘a page turner’ or God forbid, ‘plot driven’.
  Is it too much to ask for a little humility, respect and understanding from those who should know better? Yes, of course it is, and besides, what the hell would I have to gripe about if that were to happen? Sorry, did I mention John Banville? – KT McCaffrey

KT McCaffrey’s THE CAT TRAP is published on February 29