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, June 18, 2011

“Ya Wanna Do It Here Or Down The Station, Punk?”: Thomas Fitzsimmons

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?
Not an easy question, Declan. What with all the terrific authors out there. But if I have to make a choice, it would be between—starting with contemporary American authors—John D. McDonald’s DARKER THAN AMBER, Ed McBain’s MARY, MARY, Nelson Demille’s LION’S GAME, Robert B. Parker’s SMALL VICES, and Elmore Leonard’s GET SHORTY. As for Irish writers, I’d go with Tana French’s IN THE WOODS, Adrian McKinty’s DEAD I WELL MAY BE, Ken Bruen’s THE GUARDS.

What fictional character would you most like to have been?
Humm. I have to admit there is no fictional character I’d like to have been, because I’ve lived the life that most crime and thriller authors write about. I was raised by good Irish parents—Cavan people. I was a New York City cop, an actor (a really lousy actor), a model and a TV spokesperson. Now, I serve as a bodyguard for A-list actors and write in my free time. I live in the heart of NYC, surrounded by friends and family (and great pubs) and have been blessed, so far, with good health. I wouldn’t trade places with anyone —real or fictional.

Who do you read for guilty pleasures?
Guilty pleasures are ALL I read these days. There was a time when I’d force myself to finish any book I started. Now if I can’t relate to the characters or story in about 25 pages, I put the book down. Who do I pick up first? Robert B. Parker.

Most satisfying writing moment?
When Truman Capote read a short story of mine, told me I had a future as a writer, and then introduced me to his agent. I was too young to appreciate it at the time—my only interest then being women and beer—but looking back … wow. Reading good reviews of my book on also makes me feel good.

The best Irish crime novel is …?
Heck if I know. There’re simply too many good books too choose from.

What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?
Because I like to laugh, I’ll go with MYSTERY MAN by Colin Bateman, and your own THE BIG O. There are plenty of laughs in both books that I think would convert well to film.

Worst / best thing about being a writer?
In my experience, the worst thing about being a writer is dealing with publishers. I’m fully convinced that, like Stephen King says, “No one in publishing has any idea what they’re doing.” When my publisher Tor/Forge published CITY OF FIRE, they published another book by the same title, with a similar theme, and similar cover art, at the same time. When I objected, the publisher insisted that having the two thrillers, in the same mystery/thriller sections in book stores at the same time, wouldn’t be a problem. They, of course, were dead wrong. There’s also the fact that an author has to deal with the publisher’s totally overworked and grossly underpaid editors, marketing, and public relations people. The BEST thing about writing is getting to write every day. And when a book is really ‘clicking’ I can feel it; it’s euphoric. I know you know what I mean.

The pitch for your next book is …?
CONFESSIONS OF A SUICIDAL POLICEWOMAN is the second in the Michael Beckett series. It focuses on police officers Michael Beckett and Destiny Jones, two characters I introduced in CONFESSIONS OF A CATHOLIC COP. Beckett is the suave but tough protagonist, who battles a powerful NYC real estate mogul in book one. In CONFESSIONS OF A SUICIDAL POLICEWOMAN, Beckett and Jones, now partners in the NYPD, are starting to come to terms with their true feelings for one another when their world suddenly shifts gears. An ex-cop recruits Beckett into his gang of “rockers,” a secret society of vigilante cops who protect businesses from shakedowns—for a price. A violent drug ring has taken control of an Upper East Side hotel. The ring needs to be cleaned out and an old girlfriend of Beckett’s, an amoral tart who happens to co-own the place, needs saving. This leads Beckett and Jones into one of the deadliest, most tangled operations of their lives, as he pursues the drug kingpin who killed his baby sister, and Jones suffers a horrible injury, leaving her to confront life as an invalid or a death with dignity by her own hand.

Who are you reading right now?
I read several books at once. Currently I’m reading Lisa Garner, Cormac McCarthy, and James Lee Burke. I just finished Walter Mosley’s THE LAST DAYS OF PTOLEMY GRAY and re-read Ian Fleming’s THUNDERBALL.

God appears and says you can only write OR read. Which would it be?
Since one can’t write without first being an avid reader, I’d have to slap God upside the head and say, “WTF?”

The three best words to describe your own writing are …?
Minimalist. Gritty. Fun.

Thomas Fitzsimmons’ CONFESSIONS OF A CATHOLIC COP is available in paperback and e-book.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Peace Comes Dropping Slow

I’m three-quarters way through the Red Riding quartet, and it’s fair to say that David Peace (right) is a rather intense writer. In fact, I’ve been reading the quartet sparingly, not least because it takes me a James Ellroy afterwards to come down from reading a Peace. I should add that Peace, on the evidence of the Riding Riding quartet at least, is a brilliant writer: he brings a rare quality of psychological intimacy to the page, and his stories get under the skin in the way that most writers, quite frankly, don’t.
  I have no idea what David Peace is like in person, but the good burghers of Belfast will find out at 6pm this evening, Friday 17th, when he takes to the stage for a conversation with Eoin McNamee as part of the Belfast Book Festival, with Andrew Pepper playing the dapper host. The event is titled ‘States of Crime: The State in Crime Fiction’, and should be an absolute cracker. All the details can be found here
  Later that evening, at 8pm, David Torrans will be interviewing John Banville at the Crescent Arts Centre, this to mark the publication of Banville’s latest Benjamin Black offering, A DEATH IN SUMMER (for a review, scroll down). Taken together, the Peace / McNamee and Banville / Black mash-up has the makings of a splendid night’s entertainment for the discerning crime fic fan.
  Meanwhile, the Belfast launch of DOWN THESE GREEN STREETS takes place on Saturday evening, also as part of the Belfast Book Festival, with David Torrans of No Alibis doing the honours, although the event itself will take place at the Crescent Arts Centre. Authors in attendance will include Brian McGilloway, Colin Bateman, Stuart Neville, Arlene Hunt, Niamh O’Connor, Eoin McNamee and Gerard Brennan, and if it’s half as good as the Dublin launch, it’ll be a terrific night for all concerned. For the full details, clickety-click here
  In other news, the confusion between Declan Hughes and Declan Burke is reaching crisis point - I’ve been contacted three times this week alone on Twitter by people presuming that I’m Dec Hughes. The first thing to say about that is that it sounds like Dec Hughes is having a much more interesting war than I am; the second is that, as I’ve pointed out before, Dec Hughes is the Declan with the looks and talent; I’m the other guy. Anyway, RTE’s Arena programme has very helpfully offered to put the Declan / Declan crisis to bed by featuring us both on tonight’s programme, in conversation about DOWN THESE GREEN STREETS, which airs at 7.30pm GMT. You can listen live here, but if you miss it, don’t worry: the archive will be up on Arena’s website within a day or two …
  Finally, the ladies at the Anti-Room blog were kind enough to yesterday feature Anti-Room contributor and author Arlene Hunt’s essay from DOWN THESE GREEN STREETS, ‘A Shock to the System’. The essay is reprinted in full, and is in my not-very-humble opinion well worth ten minutes of your time. The Anti-Room blog can be found here

Thursday, June 16, 2011

ULYSSES: A Crime Novel, Innit?

It’s Bloomsday today, as you probably know, that one day in the year when everyone cheerfully admits to being unable to read ULYSSES, although they quite like DUBLINERS, and as for FINNEGANS WAKE, well, it’s mad, Ted, and if the man couldn’t be bothered punctuating his own titles, why should I waste my time reading it, etc.
  So happy Bloomsday, folks, and enjoy your grilled kidneys. For those of you interested in Chief Justice Adrian Hardiman’s take on why ULYSSES has a murder mystery at its heart, clickety-click here
  As always, my favourite bit about Bloomsday is the opportunity to run, yet again, Donald Clarke’s masterful short movie and a gloriously scatological slice of genius, aka ‘Pitch ‘n’ Putt with Beckett and Joyce’. Roll it there, Collette …
  Meanwhile, in crime fic-related news, this blog is yet again about three miles behind the curve. For lo! News reaches us via the darker reaches of the interweb that Ken Bruen has - oh yes! - another Jack Taylor tome on the way, with the blurb elves wibbling thusly:
Some people help the less fortunate. Others kill them. Welcome to HEADSTONE - Jack Taylor’s darkest nightmare. An elderly priest is viciously beaten until nearly dead. A special needs boy is brutally attacked. Evil has many guises. Jack Taylor has encountered most of them but nothing before has ever truly terrified him until a group called Headstone rears its ugly head. A series of seemingly random, insane, violent events has even the national police, the Guards, shaken. Most would see a headstone as a marker of the dead, but this coterie of evil intends to act as a death knell to every aspect of Jack’s life as an act of appalling violence alerts him to the horror enveloping Galway. Accepting the power of Headstone, Jack realizes that in order to fight back he must relinquish the remaining shreds of what has made him human, knowledge that may have come too late to prevent an act of such ferocious evil that the whole country would be changed forever - and in the worst way. With awful clarity, Jack knows that not only might he be powerless to stop it but that he may not have the grit needed to even face it.
  So there you have it. Last time out, Jack Taylor was grappling with the Devil himself, so how much more ferocious can evil get? Well, you’ll need to nab yourself a copy of HEADSTONE to find out. The way things are around here, we could be waiting until next Bloomsday for the book to arrive …
  Elsewhere in crime fic-related news - Rathgar, to be precise - I was delighted to play Watson to John Banville’s Holmes last night, as the Rathgar Bookshop hosted a Q&A in which I pretty much asked John Banville variations on the same question he gets asked everywhere he goes: i.e., Wassup wit dat Benny Blanco, eh? Things went fairly swimmingly in front of a very clued-in audience, which included one Alan Glynn, until such time as Banville started referencing classic crime titles I’d never heard of, at which point I handed over the audience for Qs, in case my ignorance of the subject was revealed.   Anyway, the point of the exercise was to promote Banville’s new Benjamin Black tome, A DEATH IN SUMMER, and DOWN THESE GREEN STREETS (have I mentioned that GREEN STREETS debuted at # 2 in the Nielsen hardback charts? Yes? Good.), in which I interview John Banville about his fascination with the crime narrative, regardless of whether he’s writing as Banville or Black. Many books were sold, much wine was drank, and everyone went home happy. Except Alan Glynn, the miserable sod.
  Incidentally, I reviewed A DEATH IN SUMMER in tandem with Arlene Hunt for RTE’s Arena programme last Monday night. You can catch the audio here, and my review notes ran a lot like this:
A Death in Summer by Benjamin Black (Mantle)

A DEATH IN SUMMER is the fourth Benjamin Black novel, a series of crime novels written by John Banville and set in 1950’s Dublin. It opens in the wake of the apparent suicide of newspaper owner and well-to-do businessman Richard ‘Diamond Dick’ Jewell at his country estate in County Kildare. Lugubrious Inspector Hackett is first on the scene, followed by his friend and foil, the coroner Quirke. Their subsequent examination of the corpse, and their interview of the dead man’s widow Francoise Jewell, nee d’Aubigny, and her sister-in-law Denise, aka Dannie, convinces both men that Jewell’s death was not a suicide. Consequently, a murder investigation is embarked upon, one in which the obvious suspect appears to be Jewell’s bitter business rival, the Canadian-born Carlton Sumner, who has been attempting an hostile takeover of Jewell’s newspaper for some time. But as Quirke assists Hackett in his enquiries, and finds himself drawn into an affair with Jewell’s widow, malign forces make themselves manifest as powerful men strive to keep their dark deeds to remain in the shadows.

John Banville tends to describe his Benjamin Black novels as the work of an artisan rather than an artist, but it’s hard to resist the feeling, while reading A DEATH IN SUMMER, that he is enjoying his role as a crime writer rather more than is public persona of curmudgeonly aesthete allows. Certainly the novel is the most accomplished to date of the Benjamin Black offerings, being a satisfying blend of character, atmosphere, pace and (largely) unexpected twists.

Main Characters:

The central character, Quirke - who ever only goes by a single name - has changed little since his first outing in CHRISTINE FALLS (2006). The survivor of a traumatic childhood, when he was orphaned early and consigned to a number of homes and industrial schools, he was later adopted by a wealthy judge, and brought up in the rarefied air of middle-class Ireland of the 1940s. A reformed alcoholic who spent time drying out at the beginning of ELEGY FOR APRIL (2010), Quirke falls off the wagon again in A DEATH IN SUMMER, in part because he betrays his lover, the actress Isabel Galloway, to begin an affair with Francoise d’Aubigny. A prickly man whose internal monologues reveal that he lacks the basic social graces, despite appearances to the contrary, Quirke is problematic and largely unknown even to those who know him best, Inspector Hackett and his daughter, Phoebe.

Inspector Hackett
Originally little more than a foil for Quirke, Hackett emerges fully fledged in A DEATH IN SUMMER; indeed, the story opens with Hackett attending the murder of Richard Jewell, with Quirke arriving a little later. A phlegmatic and studiously careful man, he favours stout boots even in the warmest of weather, which Banville alludes to in order point up Hackett’s love of routine and the status quo. Originally from the country, Hackett has never really adapted to the city life of Dublin, and is more than happy to play the buffoon when conducting interviews, the better to lure his suspects into a false sense of superiority.

Quirke gave up his daughter Phoebe for adoption when she was born, and her mother died in child-birth, and has only belatedly acknowledged her as his own, albeit for her sake rather than his. The pair are closer than either is prepared to admit, perhaps because they share the same character traits, and Phoebe provides for Banville a conduit to a younger generation of Dublin’s men and women, a more stylish generation that was to explode into the 1960s with a sense that they were entitled to more from life than grey, depressed Ireland had to offer. Here Phoebe provides Quirke, and by extension the reader, access via Dannie Jewell to Dublin’s ‘fast set’, one of whom is Carlton Sumner’s son Teddy, a young man with a history of violence against women.

Francoise d’Aubigny
Being French is enough in itself to give Francoise d’Aubigny a rare glamour in 1950’s Dublin, but she compounds the effect by being possessed of a haughty poise and a haunting beauty. A Jewess, and a veteran of the French Resistance in WWII, Francoise beguiles Quirke, drawing uncharacteristically passionate responses from a man who finds himself awkwardly adapting to acting on instinct and against his conscience, particularly as Francoise, who has been living a separate life from her late husband for some time, cannot be discounted as a suspect for his murder.

General Comment:
Despite the austere tone and apparently sedate pace, the novel progresses at a page-turning clip, due to the fact that Banville musters a host of characters to provide third-person narration, including minor characters such as his colleague Sinclair, who becomes romantically involved with Phoebe, and Dannie Jewell. This represents a neat sleight of hand by Banville, as the Benjamin Black novels, given their setting and tone, are generally considered ‘cosies’, a variation of the crime novel that tends to progress, as the name suggests, at a comfortable stroll rather than a flat-out sprint.

The prose, as Banville cheerfully confesses, is less accomplished than those of the self-consciously artistic Banville novels, being more functional, direct and plain. That said, Banville is probably incapable of publishing a bad sentence, regardless of writing persona, and A DEATH IN SUMMER is as precisely written as the best crime novels, even if the prose only rarely calls attention to itself. Some examples do stand out, such as “The priest was studying him closely again, running ghostly fingers over the braille of Quirke’s soul” (pg 144), but for the most part Banville is happy to allow form, function and plot to take precedence over any other considerations.

As in previous Benjamin Black novels, the sepia-toned backdrop of 1950s Dublin gradually gives way to a more black-and-white world, in which Quirke and Hackett’s investigations penetrate to some of the darker corners of Ireland’s past. To explain further how that applies in the case of A DEATH IN SUMMER would be to provide too many spoilers, but it’s fair to say that by the novel’s conclusion, the apparent simplicity of black-and-white and the pieties of good-versus-evil have taken on the more ambiguously blurred lines of noir-ish chiaroscuro. Indeed, from the vantage point of 2011, the finale of A DEATH IN SUMMER represents one of the most stomach-churningly fatalistic noir endings of any crime novel published to date this year. - Declan Burke

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


UPDATE: Just heard this morning that our humble offering, DOWN THESE GREEN STREETS (Liberties Press), entered the Irish Nielsen HB charts at # 2. Jazzed, buzzed and generally delighted, as you might imagine. And now, dear reader, read on …

The Irish Times was kind enough, yesterday, to run an excerpt from John Connolly’s (right) contribution to DOWN THESE GREEN STREETS: IRISH CRIME WRITING IN THE 21st CENTURY. Taken from his wide-ranging essay, ‘No Blacks, No Dogs, No Crime Writers: Ireland and the Mystery Genre’, Connolly examines the reasons why Ireland was not fertile ground for the crime novel until very recently, suggesting here that ‘… the private eye novel has struggled to make a successful case for itself in the UK.’ He then goes on to say:
“While that may be due, to some degree, to the sense that gun-toting PIs don’t travel well across the Atlantic, I would suggest that it is also a consequence of a deeply held belief that the pursuit of justice is one best entrusted to the police, and an absence of the frontier spirit of the United States that places such a premium on independence and individual action.
  “That belief may be shaken by reports of real life police corruption, brutality, and incompetence, but it seems such revelations may simply cause readers to turn to the more idealised police officers of crime fiction with renewed vigour.
  “After all, crime fiction is less about the world as it is than the world as it should be. As William Gaddis wrote in his novel JR (1976): “Justice? – you get justice in the next world, in this world, you have the law.”
  “Crime fiction refuses to accept that this should be the case, and in doing so it reflects the desire of its readers for a more just society. Even at its darkest it is, essentially, hopeful by nature.
  “All of which brings us back to Ireland, and the question of which of these two opposing outlooks might best have suited an Irish crime novel. The answer, I think, is neither: the Irish police had yet to establish themselves in the mind of the populace, and after centuries of British rule our faith in the Establishment and its values was minimal.
  “If we accept the view that crime fiction is not merely engaged with the society from which it comes but is representative of it, then the nascent Irish Republic – secretive, defensive, intensely parochial, and unforgiving of its critics – gave Irish crime fiction little with which to work.” - John Connolly
  For the rest of the excerpt, clickety-click here
  Meanwhile, Shane Hegarty, Arts Editor at the Irish Times, was good enough to invite me to take part in that organ’s weekly podcast, along with Sinead Gleeson and Mick Heaney, to talk about the issues bedevilling the literary novel, and provide me with the opportunity to plug GREEN STREETS, and great fun it was too. For the audio, clickety-click here
  Elsewhere, Michael Shonk was quickly out of the blocks to review GREEN STREETS for The Mystery Reader. Quoth Michael:
“Aimed at the casual reader and the devoted fan, there is much for all to enjoy. This is not a book you read in one night unable to stop, though it is about such books. Instead this is a book to savour slowly, a chapter at a time.” - Michael Shonk
  We thank you kindly, sir. For the rest, clickety-click here

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Through Falling Glass, Darkly

It’s a personal thing, but reading an Adrian McKinty novel depresses the hell out of me these days. The latest offering, which I’m getting to a little late, is FALLING GLASS, which I read on holidays a couple of weeks ago. It’s a story about Killian, an enforcer and debt collector who takes on a well-paying job to find Rachel, the former wife of a wealthy Northern Ireland businessman, who has absconded with his two children. Naturally, things do not go swimmingly for Killian, in part because the woman has very good reasons for going on the run, but also because another man, a Russian veteran of the Chechen conflict, is also tracking her down. What gives the novel its heft, and sets it apart from a conventional chase-and-shoot narrative, is the fact that Killian is of Pavee origin, Pavees being an indigenous Irish minority also known as tinkers, itinerants and Travellers. They are not, Killian tells us, gypsies; the Pavee are a branch of the European Roma, and a people whose roots are buried deep in Irish history, despite their nomadic way of life.
  McKinty is a very fine writer, as many have pointed out before (he is currently on the longlist for the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year for his previous offering, FIFTY GRAND), and he invests his hardboiled prose with a muscular poetry that lends itself to deliciously black humour (Chapter Six opens with the memorable line, “The place stank of dead Mexicans and no one was even dead yet.” (pg 91)). All of which would have made for an excellent crime novel, and the Pavee’s nomadic lifestyle provides a neat backdrop for Killian’s peripatetic wanderings; but as always with McKinty, there’s more: his novels are as much novels of ideas as they are page-turning thrillers, and here he provides a rare insight into the world of the Pavee, its traditions, mythologies and language. Moreover, Killian is a man striving to settle down, to leave behind both the wanderings of the Pavee and the world of crime. To this end he is currently studying at an Ulster university, studying architecture to be precise, a perverse choice for a man who was reared on the promise of the open road:
This is why we shrink from people. We Pavee. Why we don’t want their talk. Their hypocrisy and lies. We don’t want them breathing near us. Humans were never meant to be this close to one another. We weren’t meant to be in buildings. Architecture is based on a gigantic lie. Cities. We huddle for security, closer and closer until, like now, we are on top of one another. Stuck in these glass and steel and brick structures with all these other confused, unhappy people. (pg 206)
  Neatly juxtaposing Killian’s pursuit of Rachel with his internal journey towards some kind of rapprochement between his conflicting instincts, building tension all the while, FALLING GLASS is easily one of the finest novels of the year to date. That in itself is depressing, because as a writer, reading a great novel always serves to remind you of how far you have to travel yourself; but what’s truly depressing is that McKinty, despite being something of a byword for quality and class among a select group of aficionados, is nowhere as well known as most of his peers on the Theakston’s list, for example. I’ve long maintained that the fact that McKinty isn’t as recognisable a name, nor as bestselling, as the likes of Lee Child, Val McDermid or Mark Billingham, say, is proof positive that the current model of publishing is a joke, and not a particularly funny one.
  All of which aside, and taking it on its own merits, FALLING GLASS is a superb crime novel with a fascinating backdrop, the kind of page-turner that makes you want to stay your hand even as it reaches to turn the page. It should be Adrian McKinty’s break-out novel; but then, all of his novels should have been break-out novels. It’s a variation on the theme of no good deed goes unpunished, certainly, but exactly what is it about a body of work of consistent excellence that deserves the cold shoulder from the reading world at large?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Stop The Press: Dublin Dead!

As a title, DUBLIN DEAD may well be the Platonic essence of the current wave of Irish crime writing, quite a lot of which is set in Dublin, and - unsurprisingly - features dead bodies. It’s the second offering from Gerard O’Donovan, following on from his debut PRIEST, and features that novel’s journalist Siobhan Fallon and DI Mike Mulcahy. Quoth the blurb elves:
Journalist Siobhan Fallon needs the help of DI Mike Mulcahy with a story she’s covering about the disappearance of a young woman from Cork. When he agrees, the duo find themselves dragged into the ruthless world of international drug smuggling - and finding a link between the murder of a retired drug dealer in Spain, the suicide of an estate agent in Bristol and a yacht abandoned off the south coast of Ireland. Once again justice and journalism make awkward bedfellows as Mulcahy and Fallon run a desperate race against a remorseless enemy determined to silence the one person alive who knows the truth ...
  Given the number of Irish criminals who operate out of southern Spain, it’s remarkable that it has taken this long for a writer to embrace the Mediterranean as a setting, even in part. Is there anyone out there writing an Irish crime novel set entirely on the south coast of Spain? Or, for that matter, Amsterdam? I know that Ava McCarthy’s forthcoming HIDE ME is set in the Basque region …
  Gerard O’Donovan, incidentally, is yet another former or current Irish journalist turning his hand to crime writing: the list, in no particular order, includes John Connolly, John Banville, Niamh O’Connor, Liz Allen, yours truly, Brian O’Connor, Gene Kerrigan, Colin Bateman, Conor Fitzgerald, Alex Barclay, Ingrid Black, Garbhan Downey and Ruth Dudley Edwards. Is there something about the Fifth Estate that turns a writer’s fancy to blood and gore? Is the daily grind of pursuing facts so punishing that it persuades an unsuspecting scribe to write fiction? Or is it that said authors wanted to be writers all along, and journalism was a substitute in order to earn a crust? Or is it simply the pursuit of the publishing game’s (koff) glamour?
  Answers on a used €50 note to Declan Burke’s Bouchercon Fund, c/o Funny Money Investments Inc., Grand Cayman, The Caribbean, The World. Alternatively, you could just leave a comment in the box below …

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Yet More GREEN STREETS: Or, Dropping Murder Back In The Alleyway, Where It Belongs

(l-r: Claire Coughlan, Jane Casey, Cormac Millar, Declan Hughes, Sara Keating, Kevin McCarthy, Ingrid Black, Arlene Hunt, Declan Burke, Gene Kerrigan, Alex Barclay, John Connolly, Ian Ross, Alan Glynn and Ken Bruen.

Back to DOWN THESE GREEN STREETS duty today, folks, and what I consider to be a rather interesting and possibly even historic photograph (above), which was actually taken in a (sadly metaphorical) green alleyway, as opposed to on a green street, outside the Gutter Bookshop at Tuesday night’s launch of said tome. The photo was taken outside, of course, because of the sheer volume of the combined egos involved; one wrong word, one perceived slight, and the Gutter Bookshop could have gone up like the Hindenburg.
  Thankfully, everyone was excessively polite to one another, and very nice it was to see so many excellent writers in the same company. Hopefully we’ll all get the chance to do it again some day. For more pics of the night, clickety-click here
  Meanwhile, a certain Ray Thornton of the Evening Herald has the dubious honour of being the first to hit the mainstream newsprint media with a piece on DOWN THESE GREEN STREETS: IRISH CRIME WRITING IN THE 21st CENTURY. The article was more in the way of an article offering an overview of Irish crime writing, using GREEN STREETS as a jumping-off point, but Thornton was suitably impressed by chapters from, among others, John Connolly, Declan Hughes, Cora Harrison and Tara Brady. He was particularly impressed by the guys ‘n’ gals of Norn Iron. Quoth Thornton:
“One of the most fascinating aspects of DOWN THESE GREEN STREETS is the contributions made by writers from the North. If authors in the Republic were reluctant to tack the Troubles then one can only imagine how difficult it was for those operating in the Six Counties. And yet, the travails of trying to figure out a way of writing entertaining books about killers when there was murder and mayhem going on around you adds a blackly humourous edge to the pieces by Colin Bateman, Adrian McKinty and Brian McGilloway.”
  We thank you kindly, sir.
  Incidentally, and if you’re interested, I appeared with Eoin McNamee on TV3’s Ireland AM programme last Wednesday, to talk about GREEN STREETS and the phenomenal rise in Irish crime writing. The link is here
  Finally, the second launch of GREEN STREETS takes place in Belfast on this coming Saturday, June 18th, at the Crescent Arts Centre, in conjunction with No Alibis and the Belfast Books Festival. I’ll be there, but don’t let that put you off - Brian McGilloway, Eoin McNamee, Colin Bateman, Stuart Neville, Arlene Hunt and Gerard Brennan will also be in attendance. If you’re in the Belfast area next Saturday, you’re more than welcome along. All the details can be found here
  Oh, and by the way - if you’re in Belfast on Friday night, there’s an unmissable gig planned for No Alibis. Titled ‘States of Crime: The State in Crime Fiction’, it’s a conversation between Eoin McNamee and David Peace, which will be hosted by BLOODY WINTER author Andrew Pepper. For all the details, clickety-click here