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, March 16, 2013

The St. Patrick’s Day Massacre; Or, Five Years of Truly Great Irish Crime Writing

UPDATE: Given the weekend that’s in it, I thought this was worth a re-post. Normal-ish service will resume shortly … Ed.

Crime Always Pays has been on the go for roughly five years now, and I’ve read some terrific Irish crime novels during that time. With St Patrick’s Day on the way, I thought I’d offer a sample of what has been called ‘Emerald Noir’ – although it’s fair to say that many of the writers on the list below could be represented by a number of their novels, and it's also true that I haven’t read every Irish crime novel published in that time. And so, in no particular order, I present for your delectation:
The Whisperers, John Connolly

The Cold Cold Ground, Adrian McKinty

Broken Harbour, Tana French

The Guards, Ken Bruen

The Chosen, Arlene Hunt

Winterland, Alan Glynn

The Wrong Kind of Blood, Declan Hughes

The Nameless Dead, Brian McGilloway

The Holy Thief, William Ryan

The Fatal Touch, Conor Fitzgerald

Blood Loss, Alex Barclay

Mystery Man, Colin Bateman

My Lady Judge, Cora Harrison

Peeler, Kevin McCarthy

The Last Girl, Jane Casey

The Twelve, Stuart Neville

Orchid Blue, Eoin McNamee

Torn, Casey Hill

Plugged, Eoin Colfer

Elegy for April, Benjamin Black

Ghost Town, Michael Clifford

The Rage, Gene Kerrigan

Friday, March 15, 2013

Darkness Visible: Michael Russell’s CITY OF SHADOWS

I’ve been hearing quite a lot about Michael Russell’s CITY OF SHADOWS (Avon) over the last few months, all of it very positive, and most recently from Joe Long – and if it’s good enough for the Long Fella, then it’s good enough for me. Quote the blurb elves:
“She looked up at the terraced house, with the closed shutters and the big room at the end of the long unlit corridor where the man who smiled too much did his work. She climbed the steps and knocked on the door …”
  Dublin 1934: Detective Stefan Gillespie arrests a German doctor and encounters Hannah Rosen, desperate to find her friend Susan, a Jewish woman who disappeared after a love affair with a Catholic priest. When the bodies of a man and woman are found buried in the Dublin mountains, Stefan becomes involved in a complex case that takes him, and Hannah, across Europe to Danzig. Stefan and Hannah are drawn together in an unfamiliar city where the Nazi Party are gaining power. But in their quest to uncover the truth of what happened to Susan, they find themselves in grave danger …
  Over at Writing.ie, Louise Phillips interviews Michael Russell about CITY OF SHADOWS, and during the chat elicited this:
“One of the problems with writing anything historical is that you’ve got to be very careful your characters don’t already know what’s going to happen, and although Nazism was extremely unpleasant, and there was already plenty of evidence of that [at the time the book is set], it’s not the case that people had the knowledge they subsequently learned, so therefore as the writer you have to look at it slightly differently. The association with the swastika flag was important too, and the incident in Chapter 2 came from an old photograph of a tricolour and a swastika flag hanging outside a Dublin hotel, the party held there was reported in the Irish Times as a great party, one for the German community. There were plenty of people who thought, again referring to an old photograph of a branch of Hitler Youth, formed by the German community in Ireland, that they were polite, they were disciplined and in the case of the Hitler Youth on that particular occasion, sang rather nicely.”
  For the rest, clickety-click here

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

A LIFE Less Ordinary: Kate Atkinson at Dun Laoghaire

I was something of a latecomer to Kate Atkinson’s work, only discovering her with STARTED EARLY, TOOK MY DOG, but that book by itself was enough to persuade me that she’s a writer worth taking very seriously indeed. She’s currently promoting her latest tome, LIFE AFTER LIFE – which has just been longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction – and will be appearing in Dun Laoghaire on Sunday, March 24th. To wit:
Kate Atkinson was one of the stars of the 2010 Mountains to Sea Book Festival and we’re delighted to welcome her back to Dun Laoghaire. Already garnering rave advance notices, her new novel, LIFE AFTER LIFE, poses the intriguing question, What if you had the chance to live your life again and again, until you finally got it right? Here is Kate Atkinson at her most profound and inventive, in a novel that celebrates the best and worst of ourselves.
  Kate Atkinson will be interviewed by Sinead Gleeson, by the way, who was in the chair to interview Daniel Woodrell and yours truly at the Mountains to Sea Festival last year.
  For all the details of Kate Atkinson’s appearance, including how to book tickets, clickety-click here

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Life of Riley; Or, Eoin Colfer’s WARPed Sense of Humour

Eoin Colfer’s W.A.R.P: THE RELUCTANT ASSASSIN (Puffin) isn’t officially released until April 11, but if you’re in Oxford on Saturday week (March 23rd) you’ll be able to get along to the Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival, where Eoin will be launching the new tome, which is the first in a proposed series. To wit:
Join Eoin Colfer, the hysterically funny and utterly brilliant author of the internationally bestselling Artemis Fowl series, as he comes to the Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival to launch his brand new series W.A.R.P: THE RELUCTANT ASSASSIN. Eoin will introduce you to his fantastic new villain, Riley, aka The Reluctant Assassin, a Victorian boy who is suddenly plucked from his own time into the 21st century, accused of murder and on the run. Get ready for an explosive new adventure, Colfer’s trademark wit and a villain to die for.
  For all the details, clickety-click here.
  For an interview I did with Eoin last year for the Irish Times, to mark the final Artemis Fowl novel, clickety-click here.