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, January 17, 2015

One To Watch: THE DEFENCE by Steve Cavanagh

Steve Cavanagh’s ‘The Grey’ is one of the most impressive of the offerings in BELFAST NOIR, the new short story collection edited by Stuart Neville and Adrian McKinty, and it augurs well for THE DEFENCE (Orion), Steve’s debut novel, which will be published next March. Quoth the blurb elves:
The truth has no place in a courtroom. The truth doesn’t matter in a trial. The only thing that matters is what the prosecution can prove. Eddie Flynn used to be a con artist. Then he became a lawyer. Turned out the two weren’t that different. It’s been over a year since Eddie vowed never to set foot in a courtroom again. But now he doesn’t have a choice. Olek Volchek, the infamous head of the Russian mafia in New York, has strapped a bomb to Eddie's back and kidnapped his ten-year-old daughter Amy. Eddie only has 48 hours to defend Volchek in an impossible murder trial - and win - if wants to save his daughter. Under the scrutiny of the media and the FBI, Eddie must use his razor-sharp wit and every con-artist trick in the book to defend his ‘client’ and ensure Amy's safety. With the timer on his back ticking away, can Eddie convince the jury of the impossible? Lose this case and he loses everything.
  For more on Steve Cavanagh, clickety-click here

Thursday, January 15, 2015

One to Watch: JOHN LE CARRE: THE BIOGRAPHY by Adam Sisman

It won’t be published until October, unfortunately, but I’m very much looking forward to Adam Sisman’s biography of John le Carré, which will be published by Bloomsbury. To wit:
John le Carré is still at the top, more than half a century after The Spy Who Came in from the Cold became a worldwide bestseller. From his bleak childhood - the departure of his mother when he was five was followed by ‘sixteen hugless years’ in the dubious care of his father, a serial-seducer and con-man - through recruitment by both MI5 and MI6, to his emergence as the master of the espionage novel, le Carré has repeatedly quarried his life for his fiction. Millions of readers are hungry to know the truth about him. Written with exclusive access to le Carré himself, to his private archive and to many of the people closest to him, this is a major biography of one of the most important novelists alive today.
  I like the idea of the book promoting le Carré as ‘one of the most important novelists alive today’. All too often, when talking about le Carré, you hear that he’s a wonderful spy novelist, very likely the best of his kind and the man who spun literature from the Cold War conflict, but that the quality of his books has suffered in the Brave New post-Wall World. Stuff and nonsense, of course. As much as I love the Cold War novels, they were set during a period that to a large extent (and understandably so) characterised by a black-and-white, us-vs-them perspective. The latter work is far more fascinating, I think, ‘rooted’ as they are in the fertile but shifting sands of fluid conflicts, unlikely alliances and moral relativism.
  As for the idea that le Carré is a great spy novelist: he is, of course, but leaving at that is equivalent to saying that James Joyce was a dab hand at writing about Dublin, or METAMORPHOSIS is the finest possible example of a novel about bugs.
  As it happens, I’ve been on a bit of a le Carré binge this January: so far I’ve read OUR GAME, CALL FOR THE DEAD and SINGLE AND SINGLE. CALL FOR THE DEAD (1961) is a little out of place, of course, given that proceeds as far more a traditional investigation than le Carré would offer in later years (poignant to realise that the first character ever introduced in a le Carré novel, even before George Smiley puts in an appearance, is the perennially elusive Lady Ann Sercomb), but OUR GAME (1995) and SINGLE AND SINGLE (1999) both offer characters who are singularly and even self-destructively obsessed with achieving one good thing in a breathtakingly bleak and cynical world, despite their own awareness of how Pyrrhic their achievement might be. If fiction has more or better to offer than that particular kind of story, I really don’t know what it is. It helps, of course, that when it comes to the idea that character is mystery (to paraphrase John Connolly), le Carré delivers more value per line than any other writer I know.
  Here endeth my two cents. JOHN LE CARRE: THE BIOGRAPHY by Adam Sisman is published on October 22nd.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

One To Watch: FREEDOM’S CHILD by Jax Miller

American-born, Irish-based, Jax Miller (aka Áine Ó Domhnaill) publishes her debut thriller, FREEDOM’S CHILD (Crown), later this year – although it’s fair to say that Jax / Áine has already had a rather storied publishing history. Quoth the blurb elves:
Freedom Oliver has plenty of secrets. She lives in a small Oregon town where no one knows much about her. They know she works at the local biker bar; they know she gets arrested for public drunkenness almost every night; they know she’s brash, funny, and fearless.
  What they don’t know is that Freedom Oliver is a fake name. They don’t know that she was arrested for killing her husband, a cop, twenty years ago. They don’t know she put her two kids up for adoption. They don’t know that she’s now in witness protection, regretting ever making a deal with the feds, missing her children with a heartache so strong it makes her ill.
  Her troubled past comes roaring back to her when she learns that her daughter—whom she only knew for two minutes, seventeen seconds before they took her away—has gone missing, possibly kidnapped. Freedom gets on a motorcycle, and heads for Kentucky, where her daughter was raised. No longer protected by the government, she is targeted and tracked by her husband’s sadistic family, who are eager to make Freedom pay for his death.
  Written with a ferocious wit and a breakneck pace, FREEDOM’S CHILD is about a woman who risks everything to make amends for a past that haunts her still.
  FREEDOM’S CHILD is published in June.