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, April 18, 2015

One To Watch: A LITTLE MORE FREE by John McFetridge

I’ve been a fan of John McFetridge’s for quite a few years now, and I was lucky enough to get my hands on an advance reading copy of his forthcoming A LITTLE MORE FREE (ECW Press). It’s the second novel to feature Montreal-based police constable Eddie Dougherty, and it’s an absolute cracker. Quoth the blurb elves:
Montreal, Labour Day weekend, 1972. The city is getting ready to host the first game in the legendary Summit Series between Canada and the USSR. Three men set fire to a nightclub and Constable Eddie Dougherty witnesses the deaths of 37 people. The Museum of Fine Arts is robbed and two million dollars’ worth of paintings are stolen. Against the backdrop of these historic events, Dougherty discovers the body of a murdered young man on Mount Royal. As he tries to prove he has the stuff to become a detective, he is drawn into the world of American draft dodgers and deserters, class politics, and organized crime.
  The bad news? A LITTLE MORE FREE won’t be published until September. Still, it’ll be worth waiting for, and in the meantime you can catch up on John’s previous offerings. To keep up to date on future developments, wander on over to John’s blog

Friday, April 17, 2015

News: THE LOST AND THE BLIND by Declan Burke

As the more eagle-eyed of the Three Regular Readers may have noted, I was away on holidays / vacation / the lam (delete as appropriate) for the first couple of weeks in April, a period which coincided with the US publication of THE LOST AND THE BLIND.
  If it’s okay with you, there’s one or three things I’d like to bring to your attention:
The Kindle publication of THE LOST AND THE BLIND;

Some very positive Amazon reviews in the UK and US for THE LOST AND THE BLIND;

An interview published by the RTE Ten website;

My ‘What Writers Are Reading’ offering, courtesy of the inestimable Marshal Zeringue;

A very nice review from that tireless champion of Irish crime writers, the Bookwitch;

And, finally, the delightful news that CRIME ALWAYS PAYS has been longlisted – in a list of 30 books, admittedly – for the Goldsboro Award for Comedy Crime Fiction, the winner of which will be announced at the Bristol Crimefest.
  So there you have it. I really should go away more often, shouldn’t I?

Thursday, April 16, 2015

News: Eoin McNamee Shortlisted for Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year

Hearty congratulations to Eoin McNamee, whose BLUE IS THE NIGHT has been shortlisted for the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year award. Eoin is nominated alongside David Butler, Nuala Ní Chonchúir, Patrick O’Keeffe and Eibhear Walshe, and the winner will be announced on May 29th, during Listowel Writers’ Week. For all the details, clickety-click here
  I reviewed BLUE IS THE NIGHT a couple of weeks ago: “a beguiling, gripping tale that deserves to be considered a masterpiece of Irish noir fiction, regardless of whether its hue is black or the darkest blue.” For the full review, clickety-click here

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Review: KILLING WAYS by Alex Barclay

Ren Bryce, the Denver-based FBI agent with the ‘Safe Streets’ programme, returns in Alex Barclay’s seventh novel, Killing Ways (Harper Collins, €16.99). A particularly vicious serial killer is targeting women in Denver, but Ren, bi-polar and off her meds in order to stay sharp, may not be the best person to lead the investigation. There’s a raw intimacy to Barclay’s portrayal of Ren Bryce, given that we’re privy to the self-torturing Ren’s unfiltered thought process, an intimacy that becomes all the more charged when we discover that she is chasing the killer who first appeared in Barclay’s debut, Dark House (2005). The most remarkable aspect of the novel, however, is the degree to which Barclay forces the reader to consider the consequences of brutal murder – indeed, there’s an element of horror in the brutal poetry that describes not only the victims’ remains, but the reasons why the killer is possessed of such savagery. ~ Declan Burke

  This review was first published in the Irish Times.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Blog: Crime Fiction Ireland

There’s a very good chance you’re already familiar with Crime Fiction Ireland, a new (or new to me, at least) blog that pretty much does exactly what it says on the tin. Edited by Lucy Dalton, the blog covers crime and mystery fiction of all hues, TV and film, provides author profiles and a ‘What’s On’ slot, and also offers a Short Fiction selection. To be honest, it’s what Crime Always Pays would be if I had about three heads and sixteen hands … or would have been, I should say, because now that Crime Fiction Ireland is on the case, I’m kicking back, hanging up the blogger’s equivalent of the quill, and enjoying the show. If I was you, I’d get over to Crime Fiction Ireland right now, bookmark it, and never come back here again. Toodle-pip …

Review: DEADLY INTENT by Anna Sweeney

One of the reasons why Irish crime writing took so long to develop as a body of work is that Ireland lacked the kind of large, anonymous urban settings where crime fiction tends to thrive. In the era before the Celtic Tiger, in an Ireland long characterised by its squinting windows, the identity of a murderer was often known even before the gardaí arrived on the scene, which rather undermined the suspense element of a ‘whodunit’. There were exceptions, of course – we can go all the way back to Gerald Griffin’s The Collegians (1829), or more recently Patrick McGinley’s superb Bogmail (1978) – but for the most part it took a very brave writer to place an Irish murder mystery in a rural setting.
  The rise of Irish crime fiction has redrafted the parameters, of course, to the point where Anna Sweeney can set her debut novel Deadly Intent (Severn House) on the Beara Peninsula and hardly raise an eyebrow (the novel was originally published as gaeilge as Cló Iar-Chonnacht in 2010). The story opens with the discovery of an unconscious woman on a remote hiking trail; her name is Maureen, and she is a guest at Nessa McDermott’s country house Cnoc Meala (Honey Hill). Ambitious young garda Redmond Joyce (“clean-scrubbed and shiny”) is keen to solve the crime as a ticket away from the easy-going pace of life in southwest Ireland to the more adrenaline-charged environs of a big city posting, but soon the entire community is shocked to discover that Maureen’s alleged attacker, millionaire businessman Oscar Malden, has been brutally killed. As a media feeding frenzy descends on Beara, and the gardaí begin to wonder why Nessa’s husband Patrick has departed the country for Malawi at this crucial time, Nessa – herself a former investigative journalist – sets out to discover the truth behind Oscar Malden’s murder.
  What transpires is a murder mystery that firmly inhabits the ‘cosy’ end of the crime fiction spectrum. “Jack makes it all sound like a James Bond film,” observes one of Nessa’s friends about a tabloid hack making hay from the tragic events, but the country house, the idyllic rural backdrop and Nessa’s status as an amateur detective suggest that Deadly Intent is a charming throwback to the ‘Golden Age’ of 1930s mystery fiction. That said, the story is highly contemporary: one sub-plot involves a Russian ship and its crew abandoned by its owners in a nearby port, while drug smuggling on the southwest coast also features, as does illegal international arms dealing.
  One of the novel’s most striking features, unsurprisingly, is its use of the dramatic landscape, which is vividly sketched by Sweeney: “Behind them, Beara’s great backbone of the Caha mountains stretched out along the peninsula. Ahead of them … the dark waters of Lake Glanmore in the embrace of shapely hills; beyond it, a quilted blanket of fertile farmland and abundant hedges; and on neighbouring Iveragh peninsula across the slender rim of the bay, the tip of Carrantouhil, the country’s highest mountain, rising up to the clouds above the muscular shoulders of the Reeks.”
  As beautifully written as it is, there is perhaps a little too much by way of descriptive digression in Deadly Intent, and Nessa’s roundabout way of investigating the murder – which has, admittedly, the ring of truth; in rural Ireland, as with the Beara’s topography, the quickest route between two points is rarely a straight line – nevertheless slows down the main narrative and the central investigation. Those with patience will be rewarded, however, by a mystery with plenty of twists and turns, and one that is entirely faithful to its time and place. ~ Declan Burke

  This review was first published in the Irish Examiner.