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, May 1, 2010

Meet Dave, He’s A Goliath

A veritable giant in the world of Irish crime fiction, aka Dave Torrans of Belfast’s crime bookshop No Alibis (right, with Stuart Neville and James Ellroy), goes into hospitality overdrive next week. First up, John Connolly, who is currently promoting the new Charlie Parker novel, THE WHISPERERS:
On Monday 3rd May at 7:30 PM, the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival and No Alibis Bookstore will be hosting a screening and talk with author John Connolly in the Oh Yeah Centre in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter. Tickets, priced £5 each, are now available from CQAF and from No Alibis.
  Nice. Then, on Wednesday, May 5th, Dave and No Alibis hosts Declan Hughes and Brian McGilloway, both of whom will be reading from new works, CITY OF LOST GIRLS and THE RISING, respectively, with the gig kicking off at 7pm …
  And as if that wasn’t a busy enough schedule, Dave will be in Dublin on Thursday, May 6th, to take part in a seminar at the Royal Irish Academy (there’s posh) entitled ‘Writing and the Possible in 2010’, sitting in on a panel that ‘will focus on reading and the ways in which we read literary texts in Ireland in 2010’. The seminar is free, but if you want to get along you’ll need to register here
  To book tickets for the Connolly and Hughes / McGilloway gigs, contact No Alibis on +44 (0)28 9031 9601.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Review Requests and Submissions

I’m delighted to be able to say that Crime Always Pays receives many review requests and author submissions. Unfortunately, Crime Always Pays is a not-for-profit labour of love, and it would be impossible for one person to read and review all the books I’m offered, as I work fulltime as a freelance journalist. The vast majority of reviews that appear on Crime Always Pays have been commissioned, and appear here with the appropriate credit and / or by-line.
  That said, as Crime Always Pays is intended as a resource for Irish crime writing, as well as promoting my own work, I am always happy to feature Irish crime authors, established and new, and particularly new. That includes writing from Irish-born authors, second- and third-generation Irish authors, and crime novels set in Ireland. It also applies to non-fiction, film and theatre.
  If you are an Irish crime author, or represent same, please feel free to get in touch with me at dbrodb(at)gmail(dot)com. I look forward to hearing from you.

Declan Burke is an author and freelance writer. He writes a monthly crime column for the Irish Times, and reviews fiction for a variety of other outlets, including RTE radio’s Arena programme, the Sunday Business Post, and the Sunday Independent. He is the editor of DOWN THESE GREEN STREETS: IRISH CRIME WRITING IN THE 21st CENTURY (Liberties Press).

“Ya Wanna Do It Here Or Down The Station, Punk?”: William Ryan

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?
It would be nice to have written the one I’m halfway through now.

What fictional character would you most like to have been?
Erast Fandorin from Boris Akunin’s pre-Revolutionary Russian series. Except ideally I’d have the novels moved to somewhere with nicer weather.

Who do you read for guilty pleasures?
Hello Magazine – I sometimes get my hair cut unnecessarily if it has a good cover. I’m very worried about Cheryl – my hairdresser thinks they’re getting back together.

Most satisfying writing moment?
When I knew THE HOLY THIEF was going to be published, I suppose. Even if I don’t really believe it still.

The best Irish crime novel is …?
THE BIG SLEEP by Raymond Chandler, on the basis his mother was Irish and he spent at least a part of his youth in Dublin. They should name a street after him, or maybe they already have.

What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?
Ronan Bennett’s ZUGZWANG – I’m not sure how they’d do the chess bits though.

Worst / best thing about being a writer?
Well, it’s not the worst profession in the world, but the copy-editing and proof-reading process for a novel can be a bit of a trial – after the tenth rereading, you sort of lose sight of what you liked about it in the first place. And every time you think you’ve finally put the stake into its heart, it comes back to life. A bit like a typewritten Terminator. The best thing is having a bit of a run.

The pitch for your next book is …?
Burly thirties Moscow detective uncovers nefarious shenanigans on a Soviet film set - think High Noon meets Fiddler on the Roof.

Who are you reading right now?
THE DOGS OF RIGA by Henning Mankell. I’m a bit hooked on Henning at the moment.

God appears and says you can only write OR read. Which would it be?
Well, you can’t write without reading, so I suppose it’d have to be to read. Also, if God appeared to me, I probably wouldn’t be allowed pointy things like pencils and pens, as well as being quite heavily medicated.

The three best words to describe your own writing are …?
Quirky Soviet Noir

William Ryan’s THE HOLY THIEF is published by Mantle on May 7th.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

THE DEVIL; and Mrs Jones

Maybe it’s the recession, but Irish PIs have been struck with a bad case of wanderlust. First Arlene Hunt’s Sarah Quigley goes walkabout in her latest novel, BLOOD MONEY, then Declan Hughes’s Ed Loy jumps a plane for LA in CITY OF LOST GIRLS. Now even Ken Bruen’s Jack Taylor, a man as Galway as soft rain, wants out. To wit:
America - the land of opportunity, a place where economic prosperity beckons: but not for PI Jack Taylor, who’s just been refused entry. Disappointed and bitter, he thinks that an encounter with an over-friendly stranger in an airport bar is the least of his problems. Except that this stranger seems to know rather more than he should about Jack. Jack thinks no more of their meeting and resumes his old life in Galway. But when he’s called to investigate a student murder - connected to an elusive Mr K - he remembers the man from the airport. Is the stranger really is who he says he is? With the help of the Jameson, Jack struggles to make sense of it all. After several more murders and too many coincidental encounters, Jack believes he may have met his nemesis. But why has he been chosen? And could he really have taken on the devil himself?
  THE DEVIL isn’t published until May 13, but my copy came dropping slow through the letterbox yesterday, so that’s the Bank Holiday reading taken care of.
  Ironically, or serendipitously, Gerard O’Donovan’s debut THE PRIEST arrived on the same day. Now, Ireland has had its fair share of scandals relating to clerical abuse of children in recent times, so THE PRIEST may well be a timely offering when it hits the shelves on June 3rd. To wit:
HIS NAME IS THE PRIEST. HIS WEAPON IS A CRUCIFIX. HIS VICTIMS DON’T HAVE A PRAYER. A killer is stalking the dark streets of Dublin. Before each attack, he makes the sign of the cross; then he sends his victims to God. After a diplomat’s daughter is brutally assaulted and left for dead, her body branded with burns from a scalding-hot cross, the case falls to Detective Inspector Mike Mulcahy. Mulcahy is one tough cop, but this crime is beyond imagination -- and the Priest is a nemesis more evil and elusive than any Mulcahy has ever faced: an angel of death with a soul dark as hell. As a media frenzy erupts and the city reels in terror, Mulcahy and his new partner, Claire Brogan, must stop the Priest in his tracks before he can complete his divine mission of murder. Light your candles. Say your prayers. Confess your sins. The Priest is coming.
  Another serial killer stalking Irish streets? To the best of my knowledge, there’s only one serial killer at work in Ireland today, and yet recent / current / forthcoming novels from Stuart Neville, Declan Hughes, Niamh O’Connor, Kevin McCarthy, Rob Kitchin and now Gerard O’Donovan all feature serial killers. Do the authors know something we don’t? Is the sudden appearance of so many fictional serial killers some kind of implicit commentary on Ireland’s scary economic position and the fear that we’re being stalked by the evil, ruthless, shadowy bogeymen who gamble on the international markets? Only time, that notoriously doity rat, will tell …
  Meanwhile, I’ve come up with an idea for a new book. It’s about this serial killer, right, the cops dub her Mrs Jones, because she has a serious jones for offing male serial killers …

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Lost Girls And Golden Boys

It’s long past time to declare a moratorium on the serial killer in crime fiction. Yes, the serial killer is our contemporary bogeyman, and a McGuffin for our most primeval fears, Little Red Riding Hood’s wolf relocated from forest to urban nightmare - but enough already. For one, you’re far more likely to become the victim of an inept politician running the Department of Health than you are to fall into the hands of a serial killer. For two, the killer created by Anthony Zuiker for DARK ORIGINS is so barkingly implausible as to render the serial killer sub-genre beyond parody and pastiche for at least a generation to come.
  Marilyn Stasio and Hallie Ephron, reviewing Declan Hughes’s THE CITY OF LOST GIRLS last weekend in the New York Times and the Boston Globe respectively, lamented the fact that Hughes has his private eye Ed Loy pursuing a serial killer in his latest outing. As it happens, I think Hughes has created one of the very few believable serial killers I’ve read about in recent times, a character who is not simply a two-dimensional cipher for evil but who is fascinating in his own right. That caveat aside, both ladies, along with Laura Wilson in The Guardian, were generous in their praise of THE CITY OF LOST GIRLS. To wit:
Declan Hughes isn’t just an other gruff voice in the barking crowd of noir crime writers. His characters have depth, his scenes have drama, and his sentences have grace.” - Marilyn Stasio, New York Times

“No one writes crime fiction quite like Declan Hughes … The storytelling is lean but always with poetic force and attention paid to word choice and to the rhythm of the prose.” - Hallie Ephron, Boston Globe

“Irish writer Hughes’s fifth book is a welcome addition to a series which has given the tired private-eye sub-genre a much-needed shot in the arm … The plot is taut and pacy, the prose is gorgeous, and there are plenty of twists and turns: a page-turner and a treat.” - Laura Wilson, The Guardian
  For what they’re worth, my own three cents are that Hughes has raised the bar with THE CITY OF LOST GIRLS, both for the PI novel in general and for Irish crime fiction in general. And given the year we had last year, that’s saying something.
  Meanwhile, and while we’re on the subject of raising the bar, belated congratulations to Stuart Neville, who last weekend won the LA Times Best Mystery / Thriller Novel of the Year for his debut, THE GHOSTS OF BELFAST (aka THE TWELVE).
  By happy coincidence, Neville’s novel features a protagonist who is not just a serial killer who goes about the business of killing a baker’s dozen of victims with some aplomb, but a man who is a serial killer twice over - first as a paramilitary hitman, then as a guilt-ridden ex-paramilitary driven to clear his conscience - who nevertheless gains and holds the reader’s sympathy as he cuts a bloody swathe through post-Peace Process Northern Ireland. Which suggests, as does Declan Hughes’s contribution, that it’s not the serial killer sub-genre that’s moribund per se, it’s the lazy writers who depend too heavily, and too luridly, on what the serial killer does rather than who the serial killer is. It’s the difference, I think, between pointing up the grotesque in humanity rather than illuminating the humanity in the grotesque. And that makes for a world of difference.