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.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Interview: Dennis Lehane, author of WORLD GONE BY

Dennis Lehane’s (right) WORLD GONE BY (Little, Brown) is the concluding volume of the Joe Coughlin trilogy that began with THE GIVEN DAY (2009) and continued with LIVE BY NIGHT (2012). To mark the publication of WORLD GONE BY, I interviewed Dennis for the Irish Examiner in a feature that appeared last weekend. To wit:
Dennis Lehane is rightly regarded as one America’s great contemporary novelists. His debut novel, A Drink Before The War (1994), featuring the private eye duo Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro, was the result, he says, of his being “obsessed with writing about the haves and the have-nots. Mainly the have-nots. I’m obsessed with that battle, if you will, that cultural war. And the place which seemed like a welcome home for those types of obsessions about violence and the social questions, the ills of our time, was crime fiction.
  “I wrote A Drink Before The War so fast that part of me said, ‘Wow, you’ve got a comfort level here that you do not have when you’re trying to write much more overtly literary fiction.’ And then,” he laughs, “I went back to writing overtly literary fiction. But I was thinking more and more about crime fiction, and the next thing I wanted to say, and that became Darkness, Take My Hand [1996]. So that’s why I write these stories – it was a way to write about the things that fascinated me the most in our culture, and the crime fiction genre seemed to be tailor-made.”
  For the rest of the interview, clickety-click here
  Dennis Lehane will be in conversation with Declan Hughes at the Irish Writers’ Centre on May 28th.
  Dennis will also appear at the Listowel Writers’ Festival on May 29th.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Interview: Steve Cavanagh, Author of THE DEFENCE

Steve Cavanagh’s (right) debut novel, THE DEFENCE (Orion), is a legal thriller featuring the New York conman-turned-lawyer Eddie Flynn. I interviewed Steve for the Irish Examiner last weekend, and very enjoyable it was too. A sample:
Assuming he’s not autobiographical, is Eddie Flynn modelled on any real-life lawyers?
  “The only real person who was of any influence for Eddie was Clarence Darrow,” says Steve. “Darrow was one of the finest advocates of the last 100 years. He was a man who could turn and win any case. Any case. He was that good. He also swung close to crossing the line into the criminal side of things from time to time, or so legend would have it.”
  As for literary influences, Steve cites a rattlebag of names and styles that includes Michael Connelly, Lee Child, John Mortimer and John Grisham, as you might expect, but also Brendan Behan, Thomas Harris and Spike Milligan. It was Irish author John Connolly, however, who finally got Steve writing his novel.
  “The Charlie Parker series is probably my favourite crime series and the fact that a fellow Irishman could write great American crime thrillers was a big influence. I thought that if John Connolly could do it, I might be able to do it. When I started writing I quickly realised that Connolly is a genius, and I am not – so I had to really work at it.”
  For the rest of the interview, clickety-click here

Monday, May 11, 2015

“Ya Wanna Do It Here Or Down The Station, Punk?” Jarlath Gregory

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?
Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie. It’s a master-class in how to construct a whodunit. The twist ending has largely seeped into popular consciousness, but if you sit down to read the novel again, it’s astonishing to see how deftly Christie sets up and then demolishes the expectations of her readers.

What fictional character would you most like to have been?
Most of my favourite literary icons are tragic figures, great on the page, but you wouldn’t want to be them. I’ll go for Huckleberry Finn, because he knew how to enjoy himself, chewing on a stalk of grass and getting everyone else to do his chores.

Who do you read for guilty pleasures?
I never feel guilty about my pleasures. Catholic Guilt is dead. I do feel a bit cringey when I read Ngaio Marsh though. When she hit her stride, her writing was great, but the overt snobbery, racism and homophobia which occur in so many of her books are appalling today.

Most satisfying writing moment?
When you go off on an unexpected tangent, and it becomes an integral part of the story.

If you could recommend one Irish crime novel, what would it be?
The Book of Evidence by John Banville.

What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?
Uncle Silas by Sheridan Le Fanu. It’s generally considered a late Gothic Romance rather than a crime novel, but I wrote an essay for The Green Book Vol. 4 arguing that it’s an early murder mystery. The mystery wouldn’t confuse modern readers, but a good director could have great fun with the elements of the plot which were to become tropes of the genre. There are multiple suspects and red herrings you could tease out and build on to keep the viewer guessing, and the atmosphere of gloomy horror would be gorgeous on the big screen.

Worst / best thing about being a writer?
The worst thing is the money of course, unless you’re incredibly lucky and can make a living from your writing. Most writers can’t. The best thing is when people tell you how much they enjoy your work.

The pitch for your next book is …?
Sean Vaughan, dwarf detective, solves a series of baffling murders in Trinity College Dublin. It’s Raymond Chandler meets Agatha Christie in a contemporary Dublin setting.

Who are you reading right now?
Tana French. She’s brilliant at creating engaging narrators who draw you into the world of Dublin’s elite Murder Squad. Her novels are very grounded, but she manages to illuminate the horror in everyday life, and the devastating impact of murder on the lives of her characters ring true.

God appears and says you can only write OR read. Which would it be?
I’d say, “Piss off, God! You’re not the boss of me.” Then I’d make a more conducive deal with Satan.

The three best words to describe your own writing are …?
Only bleedin’ massive.

Jarlath Gregory’s THE ORGANISED CRIMINAL is published by Liberties Press.