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, March 20, 2015

Review: THE DEFENCE by Steve Cavanagh

Irish author Steve Cavanagh’s debut novel The Defence (Orion, €16.99) offers what is likely to prove the most implausible opening to a thriller this year, as New Yorker Eddie Flynn – ex-lawyer, ex-con artist – finds himself abducted by the Russian mafia, dressed as a walking bomb, and sent into a courtroom with 48 hours to ensure mobster Olek Volchek is found not guilty in his murder trial. One man’s implausible, of course, is another man’s bravura opening gambit, and Cavanagh’s high-concept legal thriller, barrelling along at a furious pace as Eddie schemes to escape the Russians’ clutches and take his revenge, reads a lot like a courtroom drama penned by Lee Child for Jack Reacher’s younger, more hot-headed but equally resourceful brother. Cavanagh, who is himself a Belfast-based solicitor, isn’t particularly interested in legal niceties here: The Defence is a gas-to-the-floor thriller that pulls out with tyres smoking and takes no prisoners until it judders to a halt 400 pages later. If subtlety is at a premium, there’s no mistaking the ambition: this is story-telling with the kind of verve and chutzpah last seen in an Irish debut crime novel in Stuart Neville’s The Ghosts of Belfast. ~ Declan Burke

  This review was first published in the Irish Times.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Publication: MICK MURPHY’S LAW by Michael Haskins

The Florida branch of the Irish crime writing diaspora – aka Michael Haskins – publishes the ninth offering in his series featuring Mick Murphy, MICK MURPHY’S LAW. To wit:
A pregnant woman friend of Mick Murphy’s is beaten to death. As she lies dying Murphy promises to make the killer face justice. His pursuit takes him and his mismatched eclectic friends to the Ocala National Forest looking for a meth lab run by outlaw bikers. That brief, deadly encounter leads them to the Tit-4-Tat strip club in Dayton Beach where they run into a FBI/DEA/ATF stakeout and investigation. Cooperation is short lived and the Feds are not what they seem as Murphy and his friends head back to the forest and St. Johns River to get their man.
  For all the details, clickety-click here

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Festival: Mountains to Sea

The Mountains to Sea festival runs from March 18-22 this year, and while Irish crime writers are for the most part notable by their absence, there’s a couple of very interesting events you might want to take note of. To wit:
Wednesday March 18th
Jilly Leovy, Ghettoside
In conversation with Declan Hughes

Jilly Leovy’s Ghettoside is true crime like you never heard before, leaving all the crime thrillers and blockbuster TV series for dead, which is how a frightening number of young black Angeleno males end up. Based on a decade embedded with the homicide units of the LAPD, this gripping, immersive work of reportage takes the reader onto the streets and into the lives of a community wracked by a homicide epidemic. Ghettoside provides urgent insights into the origins of such violence, explodes the myths surrounding policing and race, and shows that the only way to fight the epidemic successfully is with justice.

Post-Ferguson, this is the book you have to read to understand the issue of policing black neighbourhoods. Jill Leovy has been a reporter for the LA Times for 20 years, and has been embedded with the LAPD homicide squad on and off since 2002. In 2007 she masterminded and wrote the groundbreaking Homicide Report for the LA Times, ‘an extraordinary blog’ (New Yorker) that documented every one of the 845 murders that took place in LA County that year.

Local author Declan Hughes is well known to festival audiences. Hailed as ‘the best Irish crime novelist of his generation’, his latest novel is All the Things You Are.

Venue: dlr Lexicon / Time: 6.30pm / €10/€8 Concession

Friday March 20th
SJ Watson & Paula Hawkins
Chaired by Sinéad Crowley

How well do we know our family, our closest friends? How well do we really know ourselves? S.J. Watson’s new novel, Second Life, explores identity, lies and secrets in a nail-biting new psychological thriller. Watson’s debut novel, Before I Go To Sleep, became a phenomenal international success. It has now sold over 4 million copies around the world and has been made into a hit Hollywood film starring Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman.

Paula Hawkins’ The Girl on the Train has become a publishing sensation before it has even hit the shops with early reviewers anointing it as “the new Gone Girl”. The central conceit is brilliant. Rachel catches the same commuter train every morning. Each time it waits at the same signal, overlooking a row of houses. And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but now everything’s changed.

Sinéad Crowley is Arts & Media correspondent with RTÉ News. Her debut thriller Can Anybody Help Me? was published in 2014.

Venue: Pavilion Theatre / Time: 6.30pm / €10/€8 Concession
  For all the details, including how to book your tickets, clickety-click here

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Overview: The St Patrick’s Day Rewind

A very happy St Patrick’s Day to one and all, and to celebrate the day that’s in it I thought I’d offer up some of the highlights of Irish crime writing (aka Emerald Noir) from the blog – book reviews, interviews, features, etc. – from the last five years or so. To wit:
An interview with Tana French on the publication of BROKEN HARBOUR
In short, Tana French is one of modern Ireland’s great novelists. Broken Harbour isn’t just a wonderful mystery novel, it’s also the era-defining post-Celtic Tiger novel the Irish literati have been crying out for.

An interview with Alan Glynn on the publication of WINTERLAND
“I think that the stuff you ingest as a teenager is the stuff that sticks with you for life,” says Glynn. “When I was a teenager in the 1970s, the biggest influence was movies, and especially the conspiracy thrillers. What they call the ‘paranoid style’ in America – Klute, The Parallax View, All the President’s Men, Three Days of the Condor, and of course, the great Chinatown … We’re all paranoid now.”

A triptych of reviews of John Connolly’s THE LOVERS, Stuart Neville’s THE TWELVE (aka THE GHOSTS OF BELFAST) and Declan Hughes’ ALL THE DEAD VOICES:
“But then The Lovers, for all that it appears to be an unconventional but genre-friendly take on the classic private eye story, eventually reveals itself to be a rather complex novel, and one that is deliciously ambitious in its exploration of the meanings behind big small words such as love, family, duty and blood.”

“Whether or not Fegan and his ghosts come in time to be seen as a metaphor for Northern Ireland itself, as it internalises and represses its response to its sundering conflicts, remains to be seen. For now, The Twelve is a superb thriller, and one of the first great post-Troubles novels to emerge from Northern Ireland.”

“As with Gene Kerrigan’s recent Dark Times in the City, and Alan Glynn’s forthcoming Winterland, Hughes’s novel subtly explores the extent to which, in Ireland, the supposedly exclusive worlds of crime, business and politics can very often be fluid concepts capable of overlap and lucrative cross-pollination, a place where the fingers that once fumbled in greasy tills are now twitching on triggers.”

A review of Eoin McNamee’s ORCHID BLUE
“Students of Irish history will know that Robert McGladdery was the last man to be hanged on Irish soil, a fact that infuses Orchid Blue with a noir-ish sense of fatalism and the inevitability of retribution. That retribution and State-sanctioned revenge are no kind of justice is one of McNamee’s themes here, however, and while the story is strained through an unmistakably noir filter, McNamee couches the tale in a form that is ancient and classical, with McGladdery pursued by Fate and its Furies and Justice Curran a shadowy Thanatos overseeing all.”

A review of Jane Casey’s THE LAST GIRL
On the evidence of THE BURNING and THE LAST GIRL, Maeve Kerrigan seems to me to be an unusually realistic and pragmatic character in the world of genre fiction: competent and skilled, yet riddled with self-doubt and a lack of confidence, she seems to fully inhabit the page. This was a pacy and yet thoughtful read, psychologically acute and fascinating in terms of Maeve’s personal development, particularly in terms of her empathy with the victims of crime.

Eoin Colfer on Ken Bruen’s THE GUARDS
“I was expecting standard private-investigator fare, laced with laconic humour, which would have been fine, but what I got was sheer dark poetry.”

A review of Adrian McKinty’s THE COLD COLD GROUND
As for the style, McKinty quickly establishes and maintains a pacy narrative, but he does a sight more too. McKinty brings a quality of muscular poetry to his prose, and the opening paragraph quoted above is as good an example as any. He belongs in a select group of crime writers, those you would read for the quality of their prose alone: James Lee Burke, John Connolly, Eoin McNamee, David Peace, James Ellroy.
  For updates on the latest on all Irish crime writers, just type the author’s name into the search box at the top left of the blog …

Monday, March 16, 2015

Pre-Publication: HIDE AND SEEK by Jane Casey

Jane Casey has been rather busy of late – new books on the way, Edgar nominations, etc., – but she’s somehow found time to write the third novel in her YA mystery series, HIDE AND SEEK (Corgi Childrens). To wit:
“If I hadn’t walked into the room at that moment, maybe everything would have worked out differently. Maybe everything would have been all right after all . . .”
  Port Sentinel may be a beautiful seaside tourist trap, but in the short time Jess Tennant has lived there, it has seen its fair share of tragedy. Tragedy that somehow Jess keeps getting caught up in.
  A schoolgirl from the town goes missing, leaving her diary behind and a lot of unanswered questions. Has she run away from her unhappy home or is there something much more sinister going on? And can Jess find her before it’s too late?
  HIDE AND SEEK will be published in August. For all the details, clickety-click here