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, December 20, 2013

A Secret Passion For Mercy

Justice as blood, agony and revenge came up in William Goldman’s MARATHON MAN a week or so ago, but Ross Macdonald’s private detective Lew Archer offers a rather different take in THE GOODBYE LOOK. To wit:
  “That isn’t your real motivation,” [she said]. “I know your type. You have a secret passion for justice. Why don’t you admit it?”
  “I have a secret passion for mercy,” I said. “But justice is what keeps happening to people.”
  Mercy isn’t a quality we usually associate with the crime / mystery / thriller genre, but it’s probably why Ross Macdonald is one of the enduring greats, and why he is considered a superior – or more sophisticated, at least – writer when compared to his predecessors, Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler.
  I still hold a candle for Chandler, but maybe that’s because I’ve read virtually everything Chandler wrote and I’ve only read four or five of Macdonald’s novels so far.
  Tobias Jones had a very nice piece on Ross Macdonald in the Guardian way back in 2009, in which he writes about the evolution of Macdonald as a writer, from being a disciple of Hammett and Chandler to outstripping both in terms of his ambition for the private detective novel. He also quotes Macdonald on plot:
“It should be as complex as contemporary life, but balanced enough to say true things about it. The surprise with which a detective novel concludes should set up tragic vibrations which run backward through the entire structure.”
  The full piece is here

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Declan Hughes: All The Things He Is

Get out the red carpet. Declan Hughes - award-winning playwright, creator of the brilliant Ed Loy private eye series and 2014’s International Writer Fellow at Trinity College, Dublin - returns to the crime writing fray early next year with ALL THE THINGS YOU ARE (Severn House), a standalone thriller set in Madison, Wisconsin. To wit:
Danny Brogan burned his future wife’s family to death when he was eleven years old ...
  Knocking on forty, with her youthful dreams of being an actress in dust, there’s no doubt in her mind suburban wife and mother of two Clare Taylor has settled. A wild week in Chicago may have shaken things up a bit, but as she turns her key in her Madison, Wisconsin home on the eve of Halloween, she knows that what happened with her ex-boyfriend was nothing more than a distraction, that this is where her life is.
  Except it’s all gone. The furniture gone, the house stripped, her husband Danny, her daughters, all gone; no message, no note, nothing. Outside in the dark, searching for a sign, she steps in one: the eviscerated body of the family dog.
  By dawn the next morning, her (as far as she knew, mortgage-free) home has been foreclosed against, one of Danny’s childhood friends lies dead in her backyard, and Clare is caught up in a nightmare that began with her husband on Halloween night, 1976, and that reaches its terrifying climax thirty five years later.
  ALL THE THINGS YOU ARE explores the dark paradox at the heart of the American Dream: that you can change, and become whoever you decide to be – but that your past is always out there, waiting. No matter how far you run, you can’t escape it – but if things work out, and love abides, maybe you don’t need to. Maybe, at last, you can become who you always were, who you’d always dreamed you’d be.
  ALL THE THINGS YOU ARE will be published in February.

Crime Always Pays: The Stamp of Approval

The good people at Severn House have forwarded on the cover for CRIME ALWAYS PAYS, which they will publish in the UK next March (and in the US in July), and with which I’m very happy indeed. I love the idea of a stamp as a book cover – CAP is a comedy crime caper set in the Greek islands, and the cover perfectly captures the kind of escapist fun I was aiming for with the story. Of all my books, CRIME ALWAYS PAYS was the most fun to write, and I’m delighted that that’s reflected in the cover. Here’s hoping that you all enjoy it too …

Monday, December 16, 2013

“Ya Wanna Do It Here Or Down The Station, Punk?” Luca Veste

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?
Difficult question straight out the block! I would have said something classic before this year, such as a Mark Billingham, Steve Mosby or Elmore Leonard possibly. However, this year I read THE SHINING GIRLS [by Lauren Beukes] and have been thinking about off and on ever since. A time-travelling serial killer ... why the hell didn’t I think of that?!

What fictional character would you most like to have been?
I read mostly within the genre of crime, with some horror, and the very odd sci-fi or fantasy novel. So, most characters in crime fiction we meet at their lowest ebb, horror characters are generally going through some very scary shit stuff. I’d have to learn all sorts of new stuff for Sci-Fi and Fantasy characters and I’m very lazy. I’ll go for Windsor Horne Lockwood III from Harlan Coben’s Myron Bolitar series. Endless pots of cash, awesome fighting skills, and charisma to boot. What’s not to like?

Who do you read for guilty pleasures?
I don’t really call anything I read a ‘guilty pleasure’ as I’m quite okay with anything I choose to read - no matter what it does for hard fought for street cred. YA is probably on the low-end of the street-cred spectrum (bizarrely), so I guess I’ll say Michael Grant’s GONE series. Superb characters, pacing, and pathos. There’s tons of great stuff happening in the YA genre that is often overlooked.

Most satisfying writing moment?
Any time I get what is in my head down in words is extremely satisfying. To choose a specific moment however, it was writing the final words of the first draft of DEAD GONE. Back then, it was called something different, was 25,000 words shorter than what it is now, has a completely different second half, and a really weird timeline. But, I finished a novel for the first time. The idea of sitting and writing 80-100,000 words was so completely foreign to me, that even getting into the tens of thousands was a bit special. Actually finishing the book ... that was a big moment. A more satisfying moment may be coming up however, when I finally put the second book to bed. Now that has been a difficult process ...

If you could recommend one Irish crime novel, what would it be?
I imagine you get some really classic answers for this question, with the rich history the genre has in Ireland. It’s also a great time in Irish crime fiction, with the likes of Jane Casey, William Ryan, and Tana French. However, I think there’s an absolute star in Irish crime fiction right now in Stuart Neville. THE TWELVE is one of the best debut novels I’ve ever read, and would be heartily recommended to all.

What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?
If I was being truthful, I’d go for Stuart Neville’s THE TWELVE again here (seriously, it’s that good ... read it if you haven’t already), but that would be cheating, probably. I’ll also discount what I would go for second, as that would be ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL by some bloke called Declan Burke or something, as he appears to be asking the questions. That would make for a very trippy movie. Instead, I’ll go for BROKEN HARBOUR by Tana French. Everything about that novel screams for a movie to be made. It would be a very bleak film, but excellent I think.

Worst / best thing about being a writer?
Best thing – Sitting down and putting words onto paper/screen, making characters come to life which have until then existed only as fragmented thoughts. Worst thing – Sitting down and being unable to put those fragmented thoughts onto paper/screen, as they make no sense when made reality.

The pitch for your next book is …?
DEAD GONE is about a serial killer weaving his merry way through the streets of Liverpool, killing victims using infamous psychological experiments. With each victim comes a connection to the City of Liverpool University and a note explaining the experiment carried out. DI Murphy and DS Rossi are on the case, soon realising they’re facing a killer unlike one they’ve ever faced before .. .one who kills to discover more about life.

Who are you reading right now?
I’m reading two books at the moment (one paper, one ebook – I’m having the best of both worlds). One is A TAP ON THE WINDOW by Linwood Barclay – the usual ‘extraordinary things happening to ordinary people’-style thriller, which always works for me. The other, THE TESTIMONY by James Smythe – I’ve only just started reading this, after putting it down in favour of other stuff a month or so ago. Something’s happened, some kind of "event", and people are telling the story after it has occurred. No idea what’s going on at the moment, but I’m enjoying it!

God appears and says you can only write OR read. Which would it be?
Does he also ask me which one of my two daughters is my favourite? Or Steven Gerrard vs Kenny Dalglish for favourite ever Liverpool player? I don’t like this God guy ... he is unnecessarily mean with his demands. I’ll go for read. And then like the good recovering Catholic I am, completely ignore God and write in secret, only no one could ever see it...

The three best words to describe your own writing are …?
Dark, uncompromising, and twisted.

Luca Veste’s debut is DEAD GONE.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Morning Glory

I mentioned last week that Eoin McNamee’s BLUE IS THE NIGHT will complete his ‘Blue Trilogy’, and fellow Northern Irishman Adrian McKinty also concludes a trilogy with IN THE MORNING I’LL BE GONE (Serpent’s Tail), the third in a series featuring the RUC’s Sean Duffy. To wit:
It’s 1983 and Sean Duffy’s life has hit what looks like rock bottom. Humiliated by the Royal Ulster Constabulary and stripped of his rank, with no social life, no one to love, he is wasting his time away. He has no plan and no desire to get one. While Sean has sunk so low, his school friend - and rival - Dermot McCann has risen up the ranks of the IRA before being fitted up by the RUC and sent to serve at Her Majesty’s pleasure at the notorious Maze prison. So, when Sean gets a late-night call to duty because Dermot and his comrades have made a daring escape, all their history comes back to him. And as Sean stands at a road-block in the pouring rain, on a country lane in the dark, he has plenty of time to think about Dermot McCann. And he knows, with the chilly certainty of a fairy story, that their paths will cross again.
  IN THE MORNING I’LL BE GONE will be published in January.