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, November 8, 2014

Publication: STUMPED by Rob Kitchin

STUMPED (280 Steps) is the latest offering from Rob Kitchin, a screwball noir set in Ireland during the run-up to an election. Quoth the blurb elves:
It is election time in Ireland and a lot more is about to change for Grant, a new arrival from England, and his wheelchair-bound friend Mary, than their political representatives.
  Their friend, Sinead, has been kidnapped, and her brother, Pat, has disappeared. Charged with tracking them down, Grant and Mary are soon caught between a vicious Dublin gangster seeking the return of a valuable package and an ambitious politician determined to protect a secret that might harm his re-election prospects. To make matters worse, when someone they confront is found floating face down in the River Liffey, Inspector McGerrity Black, Dublin’s finest rockabilly cop, is soon hot on their trail.
  With election day looming and Sinead’s fingers turning up on a regular basis they race through County Kildare suburbia, Dublin’s saunas, Manchester’s gay village and rural Mayo, crossing paths with drag queen farmers, corrupt property developers, and sadistic criminal gang members, as they desperately seek a way to save themselves and their friends while all the time staying ahead of the law.
  The exit polls, as it were, augur well. To wit:
“Rob Kitchin joins the ranks of top-notch Irish crime writers: Hughes, Glynn, Bruen, French, and Burke. Intricate, terrifying, and thrillingly propulsive, STUMPED offers readers a vivid portrait of Irish politicians, the media, and the police as they clash with the incomparably villainous Doherty.” – Patti Abbott
  For much more in that vein, clickety-click here

Friday, November 7, 2014

Publication: THE TAKEOVER by Jonathan Dunne

Debut novelist Jonathan Dunne’s THE TAKEOVER (Crime Wave Press) is a contemporary tale set in Dublin. To wit:
Dublin’s underworld is run by the Doherty family, a clan of brothers harder than the Rock of Cashel and darker than a pint of Guinness. The head of the clan, Malcolm Doherty, has infiltrated all levels of public office and rules the city’s criminal landscape without mercy or compassion. Gerald O’Brien is the incorruptible cop on the Dohertys’ trail, obsessive and indefatigable, yet unable to bring them down. Nathan Corbally is a neglected and abused youngster. Raised by a monstrous father, Nathan steals to survive. When he steals a piece of clothing belonging to the Dohertys, he sets of a chain of events that will pit him against the rulers of Ireland’s underworld. Three lives, steeped in violence, are about to clash in a violent grab for absolute power.
  For more, clickety-click here

Thursday, November 6, 2014


It’s off with yours truly to Germany next week, for a brief tour to promote the publication of ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL (Nautilus), when I’ll be reading in tandem with the translator of AZC, author Robert Brack, in Hamburg, Frankfurt, Berlin and Dortmund. To wit:
Nov. 13th, 8 p.m.
Festival “Der Krimi ist politisch” (Crime novels are politics)
Buchladen in der Osterstraße, Osterstraße 171, Hamburg

Nov. 14th, 8.30 p.m.
KULT Kinobar, Zum Quellenpark 2, Bad Soden (Frankfurt)

Nov. 17th, 8 p.m.
Festival “Moabiter Kriminale”
Dorotheenstädtische Buchhandlung, Turmstraße 5, Berlin

Nov. 18th, 8 p.m.
Buchhandlung transfer, An der schlanken Mathilde 3, Dortmund
  If the spirit moves you to share this information with your German friends, I will be very grateful indeed …

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Publication: SHIVER THE WHOLE NIGHT THROUGH by Darragh McManus

Darragh McManus has published two adult crime titles to date, EVEN FLOW and THE POLKA-DOT GIRL, although he shifts focus a little for SHIVER THE WHOLE NIGHT THROUGH (Hot Key Books), a crime fiction YA novel. To wit:
After months of bullying and romantic heartbreak, seventeen-year-old Aidan Flood feels just about ready to end it all. But when he wakes up one morning to find that local beauty and town sweetheart Sláine McAuley actually has, he discovers a new sense of purpose, and becomes determined to find out what happened to her. The town is happy to put it down to suicide, but then one night Aidan gets a message, scratched in ice on his bedroom window: ‘I didn’t kill myself.’ Who is contacting him? And if Sláine didn't end her own life ... who did?
  SHIVER THE WHOLE NIGHT THROUGH is published on November 6. For all the details, clickety-click here

Monday, November 3, 2014

Review: WHERE THE DEAD MEN GO by Liam McIlvanney

Ian Rankin and Val McDermid are probably the best known names in the ‘Tartan Noir’ movement, having long since blazed a trail for a generation of Scottish crime fiction authors such as Tony Black, Malcolm Mackay, Nicola White and Doug Johnstone.
  Very few of the new Scottish crime writers, however, will come under the microscope in the same way as Liam McIlvanney. The Acknowledgements in Where the Dead Men Go (Faber), McIlvanney’s second crime title, opens with a reference to a person ‘who made the whole book possible’, but ‘who would rather not be named’. It’s safe to assume, though, that that person is Liam’s father, William McIlvanney, creator of the imperishable Laidlaw but also a poet and essayist cited by Ian Rankin as the inspiration for Inspector John Rebus, and generally credited as the godfather of ‘Tartan Noir’.
  Opening in Glasgow in 2012, Where the Dead Men Go is a first-person tale told by Gerry Maguire, a newspaper reporter who has returned to his old stomping ground at the failing broadsheet Tribune on Sunday after three years away. Once a crime journalist, now a political correspondent, Maguire initially resents being sent to cover a gangland shooting when the Tribune’s star crime reporter, Martin Moir, can’t be contacted. Shortly afterwards, the reason for Moir’s apparent negligence is made horribly clear when he is discovered in his car at the bottom of a flooded quarry. All the signs point to suicide, according to the police, and it subsequently emerges that Moir had motive enough to take his own life – but Maguire is not convinced, and embarks on his own investigation.
  What follows is a hardboiled thriller laced with a bleak kind of poetry. McIlvanney’s Glasgow is a hardscrabble world, its juxtaposition with the leafier suburbs and its satellite towns only emphasising the stark reality of a city stripped of any illusions about itself. Even the intermittent snowfalls that might prettify another setting are deployed here as a filter of sorts, through which we view Glasgow as a harsh, frigid and unforgiving place.
  The gangland shooting and Moir’s disappearance – the journalist enjoyed a love-hate relationship with the city’s leading gangsters – is just the latest eruption of warfare in a city that has almost become inured to the simmering violence of an ancient conflict. “Glasgow’s civil war ground on,” writes McIlvanney, “a city like a failing state. The regime controlled the centre and the West End, the good suburbs, the arterial routes. East and north were the badlands, the rebel redoubts, where the tribal warlords held their courts and sacrificed to their vengeful gods. The M8 was the city wall, keeping out the barbarian hordes.”
  For all the historical references, however, it’s a very contemporary tale. McIlvanney weaves the imminent referendum vote on Scottish independence into the story, and also incorporates violent sectarianism and political corruption. The decline of journalism is yet another theme, as Maguire cites Woodward & Bernstein, and quotes Thomas Jefferson on the importance of a free press, even as he bemoans his personal failures as a reporter working at a struggling, American-owned Sunday newspaper as readers fall away and budgets are slashed.
  Where the Dead Men Go is on one level a persuasively thrilling crime novel that gets under the skin of Glasgow to an unsettling degree, but it also functions as a compelling document of its time and place, and one written in terse but elegant style. If it is as invidious as it is inevitable to compare Liam McIlvanney with his illustrious father, then the very least to be said is that the comparisons are entirely valid. ~ Declan Burke

  This review first appeared in the Irish Examiner.