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, July 4, 2009

The Best Things In Life Are Free … Books

We’re celebrating the UK publication of Adrian McKinty’s FIFTY GRAND today, folks, and while it feels kind of odd to be giving away signed copies of a book that will be worth a small fortune in years to come, I already have a signed first edition, so I can afford to be generous. What’s rare is wonderful, right? First, the blurb elves:
Cuban cop Mercado has a score to settle, on behalf of a deadbeat dad, a ‘traitor’ who skipped free from Castro’s control to set up a new life working illegally in Colorado. He settled in a ski resort popular with the Hollywood set, where the facade is maintained by the immigrant cleaners and labourers who work for below minimum wage while the local sheriff is bribed to turn a blind eye. Hernandez Sr’s dreams of fortune and freedom came to a swift end when he was killed in a hit-and-run accident. Sworn to avenge his death, Mercado has some obstacles to overcome - not least getting out of Cuba, where visas are as elusive as constant electricity. Segueing back and forth between heat-soaked Havana and the icy luxury of the mountainside resort, FIFTY GRAND is an audacious thriller from an acknowledged talent - and an incendiary debut for a new hero.
  Nice. To be in with a chance of winning a copy signed by the fair hand of the maestro himself, just answer the following question.
Is ‘Adrian McKinty’ almost an anagram for:
(a) Kinky Hadrian;
(b) Drincky Nadir;
(c) Dinky Radical;
(d) Where, Exactly, is the Dignity in All of This?
  Answers via the comment box please, leaving a contact email address (using (at) rather than @ to confuse the spam-munchkins) before noon on Tuesday, July 7th. Et bon chance, mes amis …

“I Feel Uneasy If I’m Not Writing Or Thinking About Writing.”

The always welcome Spinetingler Magazine made its latest appearance earlier this week, and features an interview yours truly conducted with Brian McGilloway, an excerpt from which runneth thusly:
Brian McGilloway: “I’ve always loved writing and that in itself has been a compulsion for some time. I feel uneasy if I’m not writing or thinking about writing. My passion for crime fiction came first as a reader. I initially came to crime following my English degree, mistakenly thinking that crime fiction would be light in comparison with the literary texts I’d been studying. Then, as I read more and more crime fiction, I realised how wrong I had been.
  “The novels which appealed to me most strongly – by writers like James Lee Burke, Ian Rankin, Michael Connelly, Dennis Lehane, John Connolly – were those which contained not only compelling plots and strong central characters, but also a strong sense of place and, I suspect most importantly, a strong sense of humanity. As I wrote myself, I realised that the genre was one in which I could explore my own concerns and develop my own style.”
  For the rest, clickety-click here

Friday, July 3, 2009

Norn Iron In The Soul

It’s all happening north of the border this week, folks. Yesterday was a big day for Stuart Neville (right), with his debut novel THE TWELVE officially hitting the shelves, although you wouldn’t know it from his interweb malarkeybus, where he’s virtually yawning with ennui … And this despite the fact that Publishers Weekly named THE TWELVE one of its top Fall debuts. Personally, I fell out with PW after I got a dodgy review there, although I never quite made it to the level of wishing cancer on the reviewer, or posting his / her phone numbers and email addresses. Which suggests that I don’t care about my books enough, or at least as much as Alice Hoffman and Alain De Botton do. Maybe I should take up another hobby … Anyway, back to Stuart – he’s currently hosting a competition giving away free copies of THE TWELVE, so get your small but perfectly formed ass over here post-haste
  Elsewhere in Norn Iron, the tall but perfectly formed ass – oops, sorry – tall but perfectly formed Garbhan Downey launches his latest novel tomorrow, Saturday, at 1pm in Easons in Derry. (You’ll note in passing that I write ‘Derry’ as opposed to ‘Londonderry’, which immediately marks me down as a rampant Taig and / or Croppy who refuses to lie down, or just someone who’s too bloody lazy to write ‘Londonderry’ when you can get away with ‘Derry’). WAR OF THE BLUE ROSES is published by the Guildhall Press, with the blurb elves wittering thusly:
WAR OF THE BLUE ROSES is a rollicking black comedy set in the world of gardening and international politics. A US sponsored gardening competition in the little country village of Mountrose ends up throwing three governments into turmoil when it sparks a worldwide race to grow the world’s first blue rose. The Irish premier is forced to team up with semi-reformed gangsters to stop British and American politicians shanghaiing the Mountrose Prize and walking off with a billion-dollar patent. Bugging, burglary, sabotage, murder and sexual deceit – it’s all part of the rose-growing business. And the bad guys are even worse …
  Nice. Finally, a little bird tells us that Adrian McKinty is appearing at Belfast’s No Alibis next Wednesday at 6pm to celebrate the launch of the rather terrific FIFTY GRAND, of which CAP is currently giving away two signed copies. I’d love to make it up there for the festivities, but I’m not sure it’ll happen … which is a shame, because I’d imagine it’ll be a very nice turn-out indeed. Plus, the chap is flying in all the way from Oz just to do a reading. Plus, it’s his round since the last time he was home. Plus, his sister owns a pub. You can see where I’m going with this … Oh, and did I mention that FIFTY GRAND is a dynamite novel? I did? Well, I’m telling you again …

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

All The Led Voices

Y’know, in a way it’s kind of disappointing that crime fiction is starting to rear its sordid little head at Irish literary festivals. Last year’s ‘Books 2008’ had a whole programme of crime fiction, as will ‘Books 2009’, while the Flat Lakes Festival in Monaghan is including a crime fic panel for the first time this year. Cuirt in Galway went bonkers entirely this year and invited The Artist Formerly Known as Colin Bateman and Gene Kerrigan, while the 2009 Listowel Writers’ Festival didn’t just embrace the genre, it got Squire Declan Hughes (right) in to teach a crime fic workshop. All of which represents progress, of course, but I can’t help feeling that you’re better off outside the tent pissing in, particularly if you’re engaged in the kind of writing that’s pointing up the flaws in the establishment, which crime fiction is, theoretically at least, or used to be.
  Anyway, Seamus Scanlon was in Listowel for the week that was in it, and was kind enough to ask if I’d like to take a report on Squire Hughes’ workshop. To wit:
This year’s Listowel Writers’ Week, May 27- May 31st, included a very accomplished workshop on crime fiction run by Declan Hughes.   Declan traced the origin of crime fiction (noir version) from the writing of Dashiell Hammett (1896-1961) and Raymond Chandler (1888-1959) to Ross Macdonald (1915- 1983) and beyond. Macdonald is regarded as a near perfect stylist by many including Declan Hughes who lists him as his biggest influence. Other noir crime fiction authors discussed included Richard Stark, George V. Higgins and David Peace. Many other crime novelists were mentioned for various reasons including John Buchan, John Connolly, Elmore Leonard, Cornell Woolrich and Lawrence Block.
  We discussed the police procedural novel versus the PI novel, the criminal as the protagonist versus the orthodox police/PI investigator, point of view, research, whether back-stories are necessary, the concept of series versus one off novels, finding your authentic voice, sense of place and prologues.
  Declan, although a relatively recent arrival to writing crime fiction, has made a big impact to date with his Ed Loy series, winning a Shamus award for his first novel THE WRONG KIND OF BLOOD and a 2009 Edgar nomination for THE PRICE OF BLOOD. THE COLOUR OF BLOOD is currently on the shortlist for the 2009 Crime Novel of the Year at the Harrogate Crime Writing Festival, July 23rd-26th. His current offering is ALL THE DEAD VOICES.
  Declan was an intense reader and analyst of crime fiction since his teens and this long term immersion shone through during the workshop. As an accomplished playwright, producer and director since he founded Rough Magic Theatre Company 20 years ago, perhaps his writing ability is not a surprise. This theatrical tradition may also explain his strong regard for dialogue in crime fiction which he demonstrated to us from selected readings of various authors.
  Apart from his knowledge and writing he has a more subtle skill which lies in hosting and directing a workshop – this involves the ability to build rapport with the participants, lead the discussion and impart knowledge. He listened closely to the crime writing exercises he assigned us (we read them aloud), provided direction and encouragement and did it with a great sense of humour.
  Many of the ideas from the workshop participants were innovative and arresting. The crime fiction plots they developed were well thought out and good enough to be commercial successes.
  Declan’s spontaneous high energy laughter and genuine interest in our attempts to shape our sometimes macabre stories convinced us all he was a natural born teacher. At the end of the workshop he was surrounded by almost every participant getting books signed – the ultimate accolade for any writer!
  Kudos are due to the fifteen workshop participants who are essential for the success of any workshop. Thanks also to the Listowel Writers’ Festival for including a crime fiction workshop along with the more traditional workshops on memoir, short stories, drama, the novel and song writing. The prose of Chandler and Hammett is now recognized as work of great literary merit (published by the Library of America for example). In time, other crime fiction writers will join that category.
  Special thanks also to Eilish Wren and her team for coordinating the workshop schedules. – Seamus Scanlon


Rob Kitchin’s debut THE RULE BOOK was published last month by the Pen Press, a UK-based self-publishing outfit along the lines of Lulu et al, which outlaw behaviour may explain why there’s been nary a peep about the novel, review-wise. Until now, that is, for lo! Irish interweb outlaw-type Critical Mick has been busy-busy-busy critiquing THE RULE BOOK, with the gist running thusly:
Critical Mick says: THE RULE BOOK puts Rob Kitchin on the Irish Crime map. It’s gripping, gruesome, and a hell of a fun puzzle. It shows careful research (right down to the latitude and longitude of various points around Dublin’s Phoenix Park) and digs deep into an interesting character. I was kept guessing until the end, desperately hoping that this novel would not go the crappy Hollywood route. There is a town called Hollywood in Ireland, but this serial killer’s spree gives it a wide berth.
  Nice. And nice it is too to see a writer with a good novel unafraid to go the unconventional route of self-publishing. Tearing up the rule book, indeed. For the rest of Critical Mick’s review, clickety-click here
  Meanwhile, the vid below is the book trailer for THE RULE BOOK. Roll it there, Collette …

Monday, June 29, 2009

A Hape of Reviews; and The Flat Lake Festival

A Scottish acquaintance gets in touch to ask if I’ve heard of a new Irish writer called Bill Ryan, who got a huge advance for his debut novel, sight unseen and based only on a synopsis. The answer is no, I haven’t, but if anyone else has, please feel free to share, because I’d love to call around to Bill’s house and congratulate him over the back of the head on securing a huge advance on the basis of a synopsis …
  In other news, Karen Meek at the very fine Euro Crime interweb malarkey has for some reason suddenly posted a whole hape (as we’d say in Ireland) of Irish crime fiction reviews, including new reviews of novels by Brian McGilloway (right), Tana French and Paul Charles. On the same page there are also reviews of Declan Hughes, Adrian McKinty and Gene Kerrigan. Why the sudden outbreak of Irish crime fic reviews? I don’t know and I don’t care. It’s all good …
  Stuart Neville has an interesting development over at his virtual hidey-hole, where he has posted up ‘deleted scenes’ from THE TWELVE. Which is a brave move, because in my experience, stuff gets ‘deleted’ from the final draft of a novel because it’s not good enough and / or unnecessary. For me, posting up ‘deleted scenes’ would give me the shudder factor equivalent to tossing my dirty laundry into a convent. But then, I’m not Stuart Neville, and I didn’t write THE TWELVE …
  Finally, there’s the Flat Lake Festival. Yep, you read it right – the Flat Lake Festival, which is a little bit country, a little bit rock ‘n’ roll, a little bit spoof of literary festivals, and quite a bit bonkers. It’s the third year for the Flat Lake Festival, I think, which happens in Monaghan sometime around mid-August. They’re having a crime fiction element this year, so I’ll be toddling along, and at the invitation of Pat McCabe, no less. There’s no list as yet as to who’s attending this year, mainly because the launch party isn’t happening until this coming Friday night, July 3rd, at Odessa in Dublin, 7pm. More details as they arrive, but if you can’t wait, there’s always the somewhat surreal ‘Radio Butty’ blog to get getting on with ...

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Ride with THE DEVIL

David Thompson is running a series of interviews with TOWER collaborators Ken Bruen (right) and Reed Farrel Coleman – with the added bonus of a waffle or three from Allan Guthrie, who was the editor on the project – over at the Busted Flush interweb yokeybus. Craig McDonald is the man with the rubber hose, and in the first interview – with Sir Kenneth of Bruen – he elicited some intriguing stuff, not least of which is the mention – unsubstantiated by Ken – of a forthcoming memoir. To wit:
  CM: What’s next for you? There are rumours of a rather different kind of Jack Taylor novel, and of a memoir dated for release this year…
  KB: “The new Jack Taylor is finished and titled … THE DEVIL. And it deals with, yup, the supernatural. Scared the hell outta me. Not going down that road again.”
  Hmmm – an ex-cop private eye dabbling in the supernatural? Sounds like a Charlie Parker / Jack Taylor smack-down is in the post.
  Over to you, folks. In a no-holds-barred bar-fight, who’s walking away a winner: Jack Taylor or Charlie Parker?

Normal Service Has Been Resumed, Unfortunately

And so we’re back from Italy, exhausted but happy and vowing to never, ever, ever, ever fly Ryanair again. Plus ca change, eh?
  Anyhoo, back to business: here’s one I prepared earlier, being an interview I conducted with John Connolly (right, with Sasha – Sasha’s the one with the gorgeous brown eyes, fact-fiends) for the Evening Herald last week, and which appeared while I was away. To wit:
Something spooky this way comes. John Connolly made a name for himself as a writer who could skillfully blend crime fiction and the supernatural, and yet his most recent novels have seen the ghosts and demons exorcised to the point where his last offering, THE REAPERS, had no supernatural elements at all. However with THE LOVERS — Connolly’s tenth novel in as many years and described as “a visionary brand of neo-noir” — the demons are back with a vengeance.
  “Each book I write tends to be a reaction to the one that preceded it,” says Connolly. “As THE REAPERS had no supernatural elements, it seemed natural that The Lovers would spring the other way. But it’s also the case that the [Charlie] Parker novels are developing into a kind of saga, with a larger story running behind the individual novels. In the past, I’ve left it up to the reader to decide if the supernatural manifestations experienced by Parker are real or a product of his own psyche. In THE LOVERS, I decided it was time to come down on one side or the other. I know it will alienate some of the more conservative British and American critics who seem to have a big problem with writers who mix genres. Silly sods.”
  For the rest, clickety-click here