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 9, 2013

Out Of The Past, Again

Congratulations again to all those shortlisted in the Ireland AM Crime Fiction category at the Irish Book Awards. I know that no one sits down to write a book in order to see it nominated for a prize, but it is a very nice bonus when it does happen, and I’m delighted for everyone involved.
  All told, it’s been another very good year for Irish crime fiction. Looking at my shelves during the week, I realised that the following books were just some of those eligible for the Crime Fiction award, all of them, in my not-very-humble opinion, equally entitled to consider themselves shortlist material:
RATLINES by Stuart Neville
CROCODILE TEARS by Mark O’Sullivan
COLD CASE by Patrick McGinley
I HEAR THE SIRENS IN THE STREET by Adrian McKinty
CROSS OF VENGEANCE by Cora Harrison
SCREWED by Eoin Colfer
GRAVELAND by Alan Glynn
THE DEAL by Michael Clifford
ECHOLAND by Joe Joyce
HOLY ORDERS by Benjamin Black
  There were many more Irish crime novels published this year, of course; those above are just the ones I’ve read. If I’ve missed out on any you think deserve a mention, feel free to let me know.
  Incidentally, it may or may not be interesting that six of the ten novels listed above are historical novels, while three of the six shortlisted for the award are also set in the past. That’s also true of three further novels: Arlene Hunt’s THE OUTSIDER, Conor Brady’s THE ELOQUENCE OF THE DEAD and John McAllister’s THE STATION SERGEANT.
  Maybe the past isn’t such a different country after all; maybe things aren’t done so differently there as we might like to imagine.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Life Is A Cabaret, Old Chum

I have a short story included in the anthology NEW PLANET CABARET (New Island), which is published in conjunction with RTÉ Radio One’s ARENA programme and edited by Dave Lordan. To wit:
In December 2012, New Island and RTÉ Radio One’s ARENA launched the first on-air creative writing course. The course took place on the first week of each month until June 2013. Writer and creative writing teacher Dave Lordan led the course, each month offering a new writing prompt to listeners who would submit material based using that prompt as inspiration. This book contains the best of those submissions.
  To accompany them, ARENA has specially commissioned pieces by a host of emerging Irish writing talent producing a completely novel and enjoyable anthology that presents the best of up and coming Irish writing talent.
  Dave Lordan is a writer and editor living in Dublin. His most recent collection, THE FIRST BOOK OF FRAGS, was published in April, 2013. ARENA is RTÉ Radio One’s flagship arts and pop culture show. It broadcasts every weekday from 7-8pm.
  PLANET CABARET will be launched at – where else? – the Gutter Bookshop, Temple Bar, Dublin, at 6.30pm on Friday evening, November 22nd.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Coming Out

UPDATE:   Arlene Hunt launches THE OUTSIDER this evening, November 7th, at the Gutter Bookshop, Temple Bar. See you there, folks ...

As author, editor and publisher, Arlene Hunt is one of the hardest working women in Irish crime fiction. Her latest novel, THE OUTSIDER (Portnoy Publishing), will be published on October 29th, bearing one of the most striking covers of the year. To wit:
From the time she was born, Emma Byrne was different. Shy and reclusive, her world revolved around animals, so much so that by the time she was 15, Emma was a much sought after horse trainer. So who would try to harm this gifted young woman? Who was shooting in Crilly Woods on that fateful August day? Emma’s twin brother, Anthony, is determined to get to the bottom of what happened to his sister, and in the course of his investigations makes a terrible mistake, one that will change all their lives forever …
  Arlene will be appearing at ‘Irish Crime Fiction: A Festival’ at Trinity College, which takes place on November 22nd / 23rd.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Review: CROSS OF VENGEANCE by Cora Harrison

Last month’s column of crime fiction reviews published in the Irish Times included the latest titles from Val McDermid, William Boyd, Linwood Barclay and Cora Harrison. The Cora Harrison review ran like this:
Cross of Vengeance (Severn House, €19.99) is the tenth of Cora Harrison’s novels to feature Mara, the 15th century Brehon judge based in the Burren in the West of Ireland. Here Mara investigates the murder of a German pilgrim to the church at Kilnaboy, who is discovered naked and spread-eagled in the cruciform position the morning after a precious religious relic is burnt. Given that the pilgrim was a follower of Martin Luther, some of the locals believe his death was an act of God, but Mara, who is not noticeably devout, goes in search of a more prosaic killer. The religious fanaticism that underpins Cross of Vengeance gives it a contemporary resonance, but for the most part this is an unabashedly and enjoyably old-fashioned mystery investigation as Mara quietly but conscientiously goes about her business of interviewing suspects and excavating motives. The setting is integral to the plot, and Harrison’s elegant style beautifully evokes the world of the Burren, not only in terms of its sights and sounds, but also its languid pace and its enduring traditions. Most intriguing of all, however, is the experience of a murder investigation conducted according to ancient Brehon law. All told, it’s a fascinating blend. – Declan Burke
  For the rest, clickety-click here

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Derry Air

There’s something special in the Derry air, alright. About the only downside to the weekend’s trip to Derry for the ‘Killer Books’ festival was that I was still stuck on the M50 on the way home on Sunday evening when Sligo Rovers scored the winner in the Cup Final about three hours into injury time.
  Other than that, ‘Killer Books’ made for a very fine weekend indeed. As always, the best part of such events is meeting fellow scribes, such as Lee Child and Desmond Doherty (right and righter). I also had a couple of brief-but-lovely chats with Claire McGowan, Andrew Pepper, Stuart Neville, William Ryan, John McAllister, Arlene Hunt, Alan Glynn, Stephen Mearns and Ann Cleeves.
  On Friday afternoon I had the honour of taking part in a panel discussion on comedy crime fiction alongside Colin Bateman (who was a busy man, given that his ‘Teenage Kicks’ punk musical opened in Derry over the weekend) and Gerard Brennan, all of which was moderated in some style by the great Garbhan Downey.
  All told, ‘Killer Books’ was a huge credit to its curator, Brian McGilloway, who launched his latest offering, HURT, on the Friday evening. Here’s hoping that ‘Killer Books’ in Derry becomes an annual event …

The Write Stuff

JJ Toner has just launched a short story competition, ‘Write4Autism’, with the intention of raising awareness of, and funding for, Enhanced Services for Autism Spectrum Disorder Initiatives (ASDI), a registered charity working with adults with Autism in Ireland. To wit:

Write4Autism is a new short story competition, launching today. The prize fund will be determined by the number of entries received, up to a maximum of €4,500 (about $6,000).

The prizes on offer are as follows:

First prize 50% of the prize fund up to a maximum of €2,250 (about $3,000)
Second prize 25% of the prize fund up to a maximum of €1,125 (about $1,500)
Third prize 10% of the prize fund up to a maximum of €450 (about $600)
18 addition prizes from the remaining 15% of the prize fund up to a maximum of €37.50 (about $50)

The entry fee is €7.50 (about $10) per story, the word limit 1,500 words.

We have a judging panel of three great writers: Colin Bateman, Declan Burke and Lucille Redmond.

The proceeds from the competition will be used to fund Enhanced Services for Autism Spectrum Disorder Initiatives (ASDI), a registered charity working with adults with Autism in Ireland.

Depending on the quality of the winning stories, they may be published in an eBook for Kindle, with the proceeds of this eBook going to the charity.

For all the details, clickety-click here.