Praise for Declan Burke: “Burke shows again that he’s not just a comic genius, but also a fine dramatic writer and storyteller.” – Booklist. “Proust meets Chandler over a pint of Guinness.” – Spectator. “Among the most memorable books of the year, of any genre.” – Sunday Times. “A hardboiled delight.” – Guardian. “Imagine Donald Westlake and Richard Stark collaborating on a screwball noir.” – Kirkus Reviews. “A cross between Raymond Chandler and Flann O’Brien.” – John Banville.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Funky Friday’s Freaky-Deak

It’s Friday, it’s funky, to wit: Derek Landy is circling the globe as we speak to promote the new Skulduggery Pleasant opus, PLAYING WITH FIRE, and the Book Witch has a rather lovely interview-cum-book signing piece over at her fabulous interweb yokeybus. Derek also turns up in the Irish Independent, in a two-part interview with fellow YA horror-meister DB Shan, who’s promoting PROCESSION OF THE DEAD. Oh, and if you’re interested in picking up a free copy of POTD, Waterstones and Harper Collins are offering the chance to win one of three blow-up prints of the book jacket, signed by the man himself, and of course a copy of the book, over here … Yet more Derek Landy! SKULDUGGERY PLEASANT is among Voya’s best science fiction, horror and fantasy of 2007. Huzzah! Meanwhile – brace yourself – “150 students aged 11-13 from schools across the North East of England read, reviewed and voted for their favourite book from a shortlist of 6 chosen by librarians and last year’s North East Book Award student judges,” reports the School Library Association. The winner? You guessed it … Yet another interview, albeit in video format: Liam Durcan can be found opening up his GARCIA’S HEART over at Book Opinion … Kerrie at Mysteries in Paradise was the first to let us know that Benny Blanco’s CHRISTINE FALLS has been nominated for a Theakston’s Old Peculier … Staying with Benny: Early Word reports on a potentially unseemly literary spat between the New York Times’ Marilyn Stasio and Mark Sarvas of The Elegant Variation over the merits or otherwise of Benny Blanco’s THE SILVER SWAN. Erm, we’re with Marilyn on this one, Mark … Derry’s finest Garbhan Downey is out and about plugging his latest opus, YOURS CONFIDENTIALLY, with interviews in Derry Today, The Limerick Leader and The Londonderry Sentinel. Quoth Garbhan: “I got the inspiration for the book after reading THE EAGLE’S THRONE by Carlos Fuentes a few years back. That book is told in an epistolary form as well and deals with a corrupt Mexican presidency in a time when the Americans have cut off all forms of electronic communication so they have to revert to the old fashioned quill and pen. Knowing that we, as a nation, have a great letter writing history, it seemed the perfect way to delve into the story of this ambitious assemblyman.” He neglects to mention that it’s very funny indeed, but happily Gerard Brennan at CSNI is on hand to do the reviewing honours … Finally, and appropriately given the day that’s in it, here’s the weekly vid, courtesy of Book Opinion again, in which Tana French fesses up the skinny on IN THE WOODS. Roll it there, Collette …

The Embiggened O # 2008: All Ship-Shape And Bristol Fashion

A Minister for Propaganda Elf writes: “Ahem, koff … So busy were we (hic) knocking back our patented Elf-Wonking Juice™ to celebrate Tana French’s win at the Edgars (see below) that it entirely slipped our notice that Declan Burke’s THE BIG O has been shortlisted for The Last Laugh Award, which is given to the ‘Best Humorous Crime Novel published in the British Isles in 2007’, with the winner to be announced at the forthcoming Bristol CrimeFest. Naturally, this is wonderful news for the elves, as it means the Grand Vizier will be away from CAP Towers for a long weekend in early June, at which point we can kick off that long overdue coup d’etat. Meantime, a trumpet-parp please, maestro, for that all-important full list of nominees:
Declan Burke, THE BIG O (Hag’s Head Press)
Ruth Dudley Edwards, MURDERING AMERICANS (Poisoned Pen Press UK)
Allan Guthrie, HARD MAN (Polygon)
Deanna Raybourn, SILENT IN THE GRAVE (MIRA Books)
Mike Ripley, ANGEL’S SHARE (Allison & Busby)
L. C. Tyler, THE HERRING SELLER’S APPRENTICE (Macmillan New Writing)
Donald Westlake, WHAT’S SO FUNNY? (Quercus)
“Given that he has been neglecting his stalking duties recently, the Grand Vizier feels honour-bound to vote for Ruth Dudley Edwards, in the vain hope that she won’t set about him with a blunt object when they share a panel at Bristol. Allan Guthrie was supposed to be on that panel too, but the Grand Viz informs us that ‘we don’t need to worry about him no more’. Which is a shame, because we really liked his early stuff. Anyhoo, and while we’re on the topic of THE BIG O, herewith be the cover artwork for the forthcoming US publication of said tome, with which the Grand Viz has pronounced himself ‘well pleased’. And now, with all of that out of the way, we’re off to play with Sheepy the Lamb, who really does come out of himself after a saucer or two of Elf-Wonking Juice™. We thank you for your cooperation. Peace, out.”

French Kissing In The USA*

So there we were at 6.30am trying to make a funny out of the Edgars and THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE and the fact that Tana French’s (right) second name is, well, you follow our drift, when we realised that trying to make funnies before the first bucket of coffee goes down the hatch may well cause our collective spinal cords to leap up and strangle what’s left of our pitiful collective brains. So, instead, we’ll just give it to you straight – Sarah Weinman reports that Tana French’s debut novel IN THE WOODS has won the Edgar for Best First Novel By An American Author. Hoo-rah! Of course, the downside to Tana’s win means that we’ll have to disinclude her from the roster of Irish crime fiction writers, but that’s a small price to pay. Run wild, Tana, run free! Meanwhile, the winner of the Best Novel award was John Hart’s DOWN RIVER, and Megan Abbott scooped the Best Paperback Original with QUEENPIN. Bernd Kochanowski? We still love you, but you’re sacked. For all the Edgar details, jump on over here
* How long have we been waiting use that header? Way too long, that’s how long ...

The Thieves’ Journal*

Shawn Patrick Bagley (right) tags the Grand Vizier for a project Patti Abbott is working on called Fridays: The Book You Have to Read, the gist of which is to refresh people’s memories about great books that might have slipped off the radar. Quoth Patti:
“I’m worried that we are letting some great books of the recent past slide out of print and out of our consciousness. Not the first-tier classics we can all name perhaps, but that group of books that comes next.”
Sounds just about jake to us. The Grand Vizier’s choice? Edward Anderson’s Depression-era classic, THIEVES LIKE US. To wit:

“They steal …”

According to Raymond Chandler, THIEVES LIKE US (1937) is “one of the great forgotten novels of the ’30s”. Given that Edward Anderson published only one other novel (HUNGRY MEN, in 1935), and that Anderson garners little more than a footnote in the margins of American literature, it is perhaps unsurprising that THIEVES LIKE US has been consigned to the dustbin of history.
  Taking its cue from the social realism of John Steinbeck’s dustbowl sagas, and utilising the spare, hard-boiled rhythms of Ernest Hemingway and Dashiell Hammet, THIEVES LIKE US represents a literary masterclass in social critique. Anderson took to the road to research his debut novel, HUNGRY MEN, which chronicled the plight of the transients and hobos who travelled the trains during the Depression of the `30s; his experience had not noticeably diminished his compassion for a disenfranchised, alienated underclass by the time he came to write THIEVES LIKE US.
  HUNGRY MEN won the Doubleday Story prize in 1935; Anderson used the prize money to travel to Texas, where he interviewed his cousin, then a convicted bank robber serving time in Huntsville State Penitentiary. Taking the contemporary exploits of Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker as his starting point, the author recounted the exploits of the young jail-breaker Bowie and his lover Keechie as they twist and turn in a desperate, doomed attempt to escape the law, their criminal background, and the eventually lethal suspicions of society at large.
  America had suffered economic deprivation on the scale of the Depression-era ’30s before, most notably in the 1870s and the 1890s. What made the depression of the ’30s different was the mobility of the ravaged underclass; when the communist authorities in the USSR sanctioned the screening of John Ford’s THE GRAPES OF WRATH (1940), in order to demonstrate the folly of capitalism, it had to be withdrawn again when the proletariat marvelled at how even the most deprived of the American poor could afford to drive cars.
  Bowie and Keechie’s battle to establish a life worth living was not a new story to proletarian America, but their cross-country flight and dogged determination to stay one step ahead of the law suggested that – in theory at least – it was possible to escape the ties that bind. The Promised Land beckoned, and all a man and a woman needed was a tank full of gas and one even break …

* With abject apologies to Jean Genet

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Walking In A Wonder WINTERLAND

It’s a good time to be Alan Glynn, people. THE DARK FIELDS’ author has a new novel on the way, WINTERLAND, with the blurb elves over at Antony Harwood ponying up thusly:
WINTERLAND is a fast-paced, complex thriller set in contemporary Dublin. The worlds of business, politics and crime collide when two men with the same name, from the same family, die on the same night - one death is a gangland murder, the other, apparently, a road accident. Was it a coincidence? That’s the official version of events. But when a family member, Gina Rafferty, starts asking questions, this notion quickly unravels. Although she’s devastated, especially by the death of her older brother, Gina’s grief is tempered, and increasingly fuelled, by anger, because the more she’s told that it was all a coincidence, that gangland violence is commonplace, that people die on our roads every day of the week, the less she’s prepared to accept it …
Meanwhile, Anthony Covino over at Pop Culture reports that the movie of THE DARK FIELDS, starring Shia LaBeouf and directed by Neil Burger, is ‘said to be in the vein of Fight Club and The Game’. Colour us intrigued, particularly as LaBeouf is hotter than snot on a griddle right now – his next outing is in - oh yes! - Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull …

And Now A Word From The Mystery Readers Journal …

The ever-lovely editor of Mystery Readers Journal, Janet Rudolph, gets in touch to ask if Crime Always Pays can get the word out to Irish crime and mystery writers (not pictured, right) about the forthcoming ‘Irish Mysteries issue’ of MRJ. Basically, if you’re Irish and you write crime and / or mystery, they want you. Quoth Janet:
“Author! Author! essays. 500-2500 words, first person, up close and personal about yourself, your mysteries, and the Irish connection. Think of it as chatting with friends, readers and other writers in a bar or living room. Be sure and add a 2-3 sentence bio / tagline – and your snail-mail address, so I can send a copy when it comes out. Deadline is May 10. Mystery Readers Journal, a quarterly review periodical, is in its 24th year and goes out to over 2000 readers worldwide. We also have a web presence [where you can email Janet directly]. Have a look at past themed issues for sample articles and tables of contents. Perhaps the Scandinavian issue would be a good place to start.”
So there you have it: Janet Rudolph + Mystery Readers Journal = Free Publicity. You know what to do, people … and tell ’em Crime Always pays sent ya.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

What Lilyput Did Next # 203

A Minister for Propaganda Elf writes: Princess Lilyput has become a very popular girl indeed ever since her video debuted on the interweb, making the acquaintance of a veritable zoo of little friends. Here’s Lilyput with her pink-spotted tiger, Tiger-Lily (natch) …

… and Sheepy the Lamb, who appears to be suffering, sadly, from a rare form of Mauve Disease …

… and the Grand Vizier’s favourite, Fiver the Rabbit, with whom Lilyput appears to be well pleased, to put it mildly.

Incidentally, while we’re on the subject of the Grand Vizier, Princess Lilyput and unforgivable soppiness, kudos to the sharp-eyed folk at Repforce Ireland, who sent us a copy of THINGS TO DO NOW THAT YOU’RE … A DAD. Quoth the blurb elves:
Suddenly, after all the waiting – juggling excitement, fear, pride and trepidation – the big word arrives. “Congratulations! You are the proud father of ...” It is possibly the biggest news you’ll ever receive. Most of us drop our chins to our chests and think, “What do I do now?” Some reach for cigars, others make calls on mobile phones, others faint ... throw up ... cry...! run away ... There are as many reactions to this incredible news as there are new dads who receive it. But we all have one thing in common: from that very instant onwards and for the rest of our lives, we are Dads; and any guy who has been a kid, can be a great dad!
A nice spot, folks, and the Grand Viz appreciates the gesture. Oh, and if there’s any diaper manufacturers out there hoping for free plugs on Ireland’s third-most relevant crime fiction interweb page, please don’t be shy about getting in touch ...

“Ya Wanna Do It Here Or Down The Station, Punk?” # 2,005: Ian Sansom

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 MOONSTONE by Wilkie Collins.
What fictional character would you most like to have been?
Augie March; Moses Herzog; Von Humboldt Fleisher. Basically, anyone in a novel by Saul Bellow.
Who do you read for guilty pleasures?
Poets and philosophers.
Most satisfying writing moment?
If I was ever satisfied I would stop writing.
The best Irish crime novel is …?
Not necessarily written by an Irishman or Irishwoman.
What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?
Any of the novels of Freeman Wills Crofts.
Worst / best thing about being a writer?
Best: you’re your own boss. Worst: you’re not your own boss.
The pitch for your next book is …?
Embarrassing. Books should not be pitched. Only balls can be pitched.
Who are you reading right now?
Kurt Vonnegut.
God appears and says you can only write OR read. Which would it be?
Honestly, that would be sooo God. He’s always coming up with that either/or stuff. It shows a total lack of imagination. Reading is writing. Writing is reading. One leads naturally to the other.
The three best words to describe your own writing are …?
Yes. Yes. Yes.

Ian Sansom’s THE DELEGATES’ CHOICE is published by HarperPerennial

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Mi Casa, Su Casa – Bernd Kochanowski

The continuing stooooooory of how the Grand Vizier puts his feet up and lets other people talk some sense for a change. This week: Bernd Kochanowski (right) makes his Edgar predictions.

“On May 1st, the mystery writers of America (MWA) will announce this year’s winners of the Edgar Awards. Compared to other crime fiction awards it seems especially difficult to predict winners for the Edgar Award; not only might one’s own preferences send one awry, but the expectations of the juries change from year to year more than that of other.”

“Last year in this category, highly unusual (but fine) crime fiction novels were nominated. That might have been the reason that a rather bland book won. This year’s books are modern, sometimes bold but still more to the liking of the conventional crime fiction reader. In ROBBIE’S WIFE, Russel Hill tells the story of an older American writer who comes to England to find his peace and rebuild his shattered career. There he meets a young attractive woman who revives and stimulates him and leads him back to writing, a woman worth fighting for. It is a fine, but rather a conventional book and not on a par with earlier Edgar Award winners in this category.
  “WHO IS CONRAD HIRST?, written by Kevin Wignall, is an altogether different matter. It is a thriller that plays with the expectations of the reader and tells the story of a man who lost himself, became a killer and wants to find himself again. It is not so much a suspenseful and gripping book as well constructed and told. I missed a bit the great emotion and would assume that this slightly cool book has only a small chance.
  ”Two of the books are written by female authors, not only with heroines but with a female twist of the genre, with women who life lives and behave in a way not typically attributed to them. Megan Abbott’s QUEENPIN is a female variation of the ’50s pulp fiction. In a fine language it tells the story of a young woman who learns the ways of the criminal world and who makes her first own steps. It is a hardboiled story with a hint of noir but not enough speed to sustain this notion. The heroine is not really engaging and the plot itself has certain flaws. Obviously this should be no realistic candidate but the book has been much praised in the English-speaking world. In direct comparison, CRUEL POETRY by Vicki Hendricks is as noir, female, exciting and self-contained as only the best books. Renata provides sex for joy and money until a client wants more than he gets. With its explicit sex scenes and as a noir, it is not necessarily palatable to the majority of readers, but it would be a worthy winner.
  “In this panel, BLOOD OF PARADISE by David Corbett is the classical thriller. It is a book with a political proposition which is stated in a dossier that is found at the end of the book. Some of its quality lies in the fact that this proposition is not obvious for a reader who does not read the dossier. BLOOD OF PARADISE is a story of an US bodyguard who works in El Salvador and is confronted with his own past and is getting between the lines. This story describes a reality of which the USA and its security services are partly responsible. It is a story full of esprit and a has fair chance to win.
  “Therefore: CRUEL POETRY almost head to head with BLOOD PARADISE and clearly ahead of WHO IS CONRAD HIRST?. QUEENPIN would be a mistake and ROBBIE’S WIFE not understandable.

“There is a very tough competition in this category and each book would (more or less) deserve to win. SNITCH JACKET by Christopher Goffard is the story of a loser who is on remand and explains to his lawyer why it was not so as it seems. It is a fine book in a style reminiscent of Jim Nisbet, but more stringently plotted. It is full of witty remarks, elaborate language and clever observations of the US-American culture. Because of the language, if at all, only with small odds.
  ”Craig MacDonald’s HEAD GAMES is full of homage and historical allusions. The story describes the hunt for the head of a former Mexican general. It is a road movie that hides under the disguise of a typical American crime story an ambitious literary novel. As the quality of this book is more hidden than plainly obvious, it is also only with small odds.
  “Tana French’s book IN THE WOODS reads like a crossbreed of a classical Whodunit and James Ellroy’s BLACK DAHLIA, a bit psycho-thriller, a bit police procedural, told with literary ambition. It describes the investigations of a murder of a young girl but ends with a daring finish where the different strands of the plot are whirled and shuffled and an emotional cauldron is created. At the end not all riddles are solved, which didn’t find the approval of all readers but I think that’s life. IN THE WOODS is multilayered, moves from one subgenre to another, and pleases again and again with opulent and felicitous phrases. It has a fair chance to win, and as much as MISSING WITNESS by Gordon Campbell. A courthouse drama that celebrates the US-American trial as a performance and demonstrates that all the scheming can backfire and that then a lawyer has to face the results of his own doings. Here is an author who tells a tricky story convincingly and can generate a cogent atmosphere.
  “In pole position in this category I would see PYRES by Derek Nikitas, a story about a young girl whose father is shot in front of her and whose mother is trying to kill herself and in time regresses to an infant state. It (like IN THE WOODS) draws from an astonishing range of subgenres, is well plotted, is full of sensitive descriptions of characters and (again like IN THE WOODS) is a formidable literary book. Pyres ends furiously and puts all the different strands convincingly to bed.
  “Therefore PYRES ahead of IN THE WOODS and MISSING WITNESS followed by HEAD GAMES. SNITCH JACKET would be a surprise.

“The five candidates in this category all a penchant for the literary infused style and they are all viewed by the reader of mainstream genre with reservation. Two of the books are written by writers who had already success outside of the crime fiction world. “[...] there are sentences, whole passages, where he give the genre crime fiction coaching lessons,” writes Franz Schuh about Benjamin Black’s   “CHRISTINE FALLS. It is a book that reads as if its author compiled a list of genre specifications that he than worked off. It is stuffed with clichés and because of its opulent descriptions, real suspense is almost absent.
  “By comparison it looks as if Michael Chabon’s THE YIDDISH POLICEMEN’S UNION is authentic: If you read this book you get a real Chabon; Yiddish in Alaska. The book constructs a world of its own and tells about it with a volley of anecdotes; it is entertaining and exploring. That there are authors who write more suspenseful is not the point. The book is a likely candidate.
  “Two of the books are written almost in an classical (crime fiction) mood. DOWN RIVER by John Hart states its literary program in the acknowledgements and fails in this regard completely. It is not an analysis of choices (as stated) but the demonstration of stereotypical reactions. It is a wonderful atmospheric book, though; still, the Edgar would be a big surprise.
  “Reed Farrel Coleman’s SOUL PATCH is a dark book, well written, well structured, with a fine plot; but still, those who read THE JAMES DEANS might be a bit disappointed. As it combines literary style and classical genre themes, there is a small possibility that this book wins.
  “In between falls Ken Bruen’s PRIEST. As usual there are some small cases to solve and as usual the story is a canvass on which Jack Taylor’s life is drawn. He wonders about the influence of America’s language and culture on Ireland’s intellectual life and sees the long life of old crimes’ memory. It is told in Bruen’s poetical voice, emotionally intense and rooted in the modern pop culture. All in all it seems to me that it is so far the best book in the Taylor series and stands a real chance to win the Edgar.
  “Therefore PRIEST with a small head-start, followed by THE YIDDISH POLICEMEN’S UNION and then SOUL PATCH. DOWN RIVER would be a surprise, CHRISTINE FALLS more than that.”

Bernd Kochanowski blogs at Internationale Krimis

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Screaming Blue Memies …

Dangblasted memes, eh? Crimefic Reader tags the Grand Vizier for ‘six random things about you’ over at It’s A Crime! and demands we play ball lest a black hole (right) develop in GV’s ceremonial nethergarments and consume the known universe. Gah! Anyhoo, herewith be the rules:
Link to the person that tagged you.
Post the rules on your blog.
Write six random things about you in a blog post.
Tag six people in your post.
Let each person know they are tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.
Let the taggee know your entry is up.
Righty-o, on with the flummery:
Six Random Facts About The Grand Vizier
1. Within a nine-month period between 1986 and 1987, the formerly dynamic Grand Viz managed to miss penalties in two sports (hurling and soccer) in consecutive All-Ireland finals. These occurred at the age of 16 and 17, respectively. Both finals were lost. In retrospect, the moments were (koff) marvellous character builders.
2. The Grand Vizier’s desert island novel would be PETER PAN by J.M. Barrie.
3. The Grand Viz has a tattoo of Wile E. Coyote on his left shoulder, on the basis that Wile E. is much, much funnier than Samuel Beckett’s existentialist mantra, “I can’t go on. I’ll go on.”
4. If the Grand Vizier could choose to live in any place and at any time in history, it would be on any of the Cycladic Greek islands during cocktail hour.
5. The Grand Vizier’s middle names are ‘James’ and ‘Henry’. Funnily enough, he’s never been too impressed by Henry James’ novels.
6. In 15 years working as a freelance journalist, the Grand Vizier’s favourite interview was the one he conducted with Leonard Cohen, who was as dryly funny, self-deprecating and Homerically tolerant of a blithering young fanboy as you could expect a living genius to be.
And now - trumpet parp, maestro - for the taggees / fellow bloggers. Apologies in advance to: Gerard Brennan; Shawn Patrick Bagley; Critical Mick; Jen Jordan; Sinead Gleeson; and Brian McGilloway.

The Monday Review

It’s Monday, they’re reviews, to wit: “PRIEST, the fifth of Ken Bruen’s Jack Taylor novels, [is] as perfect a merging of the protagonist’s personality with the book’s mystery and subplots as any I have ever seen in a just about any novel, crime or otherwise … an immensely affecting, sad and funny story, one of the outstanding experiences I have ever had in reading. This book deserves any award it wins,” says Peter Rozovsky at Detectives Beyond Borders. Over at International Noir, meanwhile, Glenn Harper cast his eye over Benny Blanco’s THE SILVER SWAN: “Like the first ‘Benjamin Black’ novel by John Banville (CHRISTINE FALLS), THE SILVER SWAN is beautifully written, and is fully realized in its details. The characters are interesting and believable, the setting meticulously rendered, and the language evocative. But where CHRISTINE FALLS had, if anything, too much plot, THE SILVER SWAN doesn’t have quite enough … for me, the atmosphere is not quite enough to hold together a story whose various elements are linked by strands of coincidence, but are at the same time never quite cohere into a whole story.” Fruits De Mare liked Andrew Pepper’s debut: “For a debut, it’s quite impressive. Pepper creates a fair antihero in the singularly-named Pyke … THE LAST DAYS OF NEWGATE was a compelling read, satisfying and simultaneously disturbing.” They’re still coming in for Derek Landy’s sequel to SKULDUGGERY PLEASANT: “Landy is a talented writer and has managed to create characters we care about. The relationship between Skulduggery and Stephanie is comic, yes, but also extremely touching. It’s a rare and talented author that can make us laugh in one sentence and then pull our heartstrings in another. PLAYING WITH FIRE is an incredible, amazing treat and one hell of a read,” reckons Jamieson Villeneuve at American Chronicle. But what of Aifric Campbell’s debut offering, we hear you cry. “I expected a highbrow literary affair with lots of subtle nuances, subtext, dense prose, long-long paragraphs and a distinct lack of dialogue and action. And that’s what I got. But here’s the thing – I truly enjoyed it … THE SEMANTICS OF MURDER is not exactly a light read for the beach, but an excellent novel if you fancy an intellectual workout,” says Gerard Brennan at Crime Scene Northern Ireland. Over at the Sunday Independent, Áine O’Connor concurs: “THE SEMANTICS OF MURDER is undeniably clever and original … A first novel for Aifric Campbell, it is brave and ambitious, its way paved and its form crafted by her own studies in semantics, psychotherapy, logic and creative writing. An impressive piece of work, it is erudite, interesting, thought-provoking and challenging.” Back to CSNI for Gerard Brennan’s verdict on Garbhan Downey’s latest, YOURS CONFIDENTIALLY: “It’s the funniest book I’ve read this year. And I read a lot … a laugh-out-loud-funny, fast-paced story and an entertaining education in the climate of Northern Ireland’s politics as at April 2008. A brilliant way to mark the tenth anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.” Lyzzybee’s Live Journal likes Catherine O’Flynn’s WHAT WAS LOST: “A wonderful book – even though it had a mystery part to the story … But overall fantastic, and greatly deserved the nominations and prizes it has picked up.” Tripp at the rather poignantly titled Books Are My Only Friends likes Tana French’s IN THE WOODS: “Tana French’s IN THE WOODS will appeal to readers who crave well-written, suspenseful, character driven police procedurals … And despite it being a debut novel, French is comfortable enough to put aside some of the genre rules.” Finally, Booker Prize-winner Anne Enright gives Declan Hughes’ THE DYING BREED some serious hup-ya over at The Guardian: “There is quite a roll to Loy’s patter, a mordant rhetorical flourish … The book’s conclusion owes as much to Greek tragedy as to Chandler – ‘loy’ is an Irish word for ‘spade’, don’t you know. Hughes is not afraid to take his references and run with them, he is not afraid to have a good time. Above all, he is not afraid of writing well.” And that, ladeez ‘n’ gennulmen, is the very definition of a non sequitur …

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Best Things In Life Are Free … Books

Friendlier than Jehovah’s Witness dolphins, yon good folk at Hodder Headline Ireland. This week they’re offering you – yes, YOU! – the chance to win one of three copies of Twenty Major’s opus THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX PARK, about which the HHI blurb elves have this to say:
When Twenty gets an early morning wake-up call from Detective Larry O’Rourke it seems like any other day. But when he discovers that his friend, record-shop owner Tom O’Farrell, has been murdered and that his dying act was scrawl the number ‘60’ in blood on his chest and dial Twenty’s number into his phone, he begins to think something might be out of the ordinary. Meanwhile, time is running out for the people of Dublin. A plan has been hatched that is more sinister than seeing your granny tongue-kiss with an 18 year old and it all seems to centre around ‘Folkapalooza’, a massive free concert due to take place in the Phoenix Park. Soon Twenty and his pals from Ron’s bar find themselves plummeted into the crazy world of concert promotions, assassins, iPod-based defence systems, mad taxi drivers, office espionage and devious minds. A combination that will test their friendships, and their ability to cope with hangovers, to the limit. What does the number ‘60’ signify? Who is the ginger albino and who is he working for? Can Twenty, Jimmy the Bollix, Stinking Pete, Dirty Dave and the rest solve the puzzle before it’s too late or will Dublin succumb to the dastardly mastermind behind it all?
To be in with a chance of winning a copy, just answer the following question:
Is Twenty Major’s blog a front for:
(a) a prototype Irish neo-con vigilante group;
(b) Barry Egan’s fourteenth bid for world domination;
(c) the evil genius-style ramblings of an idiot savant dyslexic who can’t even spell the word ‘cnut’ properly?
Answers via the comment box, please, leaving an email contact address (please use (at) rather than @), before noon on Tuesday, April 29. Et bon chance, mes amis