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 1, 2015

“Ya Wanna Do It Here Or Down The Station, Punk?” Marnie Riches

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?
The Silence of the Lambs should have been by me and not that Thomas Harris. Although, if I’d written it, there would have been some terrible swearing and scenes of a sexual nature in it that didn’t necessarily involve cannibalism or fava beans. But still, what a great baddy! Hannibal Lecter was the first villain I had fallen for since Darth Vader.

What fictional character would you most like to have been?
Probably Lisbeth Salander, who inspired, in no small part, my heroine, George McKenzie. Salander is whizzy with technology and surly. I’m a luddite and loud-mouth. I don’t do silent and smouldering well at all, which Salander does. It’s that Scandinavian vs Celt/Eastern European Mancunian thing. I come from a long line of big-gobbed tough women. We don’t do poise or studied cool. Plus, Salander always seems to have good hair. I’m a middle-aged woman. My hairline is receding. My appendages are hitting the deck. It’s not nice on any level. Anyway, though George McKenzie is young and kickass like Salander, she is gobby like me (although she has a reassuringly hairy head).

Who do you read for guilty pleasures?
I read an awful lot of children’s fiction – hardly surprising, since I started out as a children’s author. Children’s fiction is written in a sparing and economical way, which gives an adventure novel a real sense of urgency. Middle-grade is my favourite age banding. I love Eoin Colfer, Frank Cottrell-Boyce and the Young Bond series by Charlie Higson and now, Steve Cole.

Most satisfying writing moment?
When I’ve spent an entire day, writing one paragraph and trying to get a clever metaphor just right. These are the bits I agonise over, but when I read them back, I think, wow. I can actually write. Then I get the odd one star howler back that says I went off at a tangent or that they had to skip a paragraph because “it got boring”. Those are the clever bits, you one-star-howling berk!!

If you could recommend one Irish crime novel, what would it be?
Now, I had to take this under advisement, since I can’t claim to have read widely in the Irish crime genre. My friend and book reviewer, Bookwitch, tells me the best crime novels are Adrian McKinty’s Sean Duffy series. I couldn’t specify one in particular and neither would she.

What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?
Declan Burke’s Crime Always Pays. It’s a very funny, very visual crime novel. The tight plotting, great dialogue and intriguing characters are all there. Humour and crime translate well to the big screen, as demonstrated by my favourites, In Bruges and The Guard.

Worst / best thing about being a writer?
Worst thing about being a writer is getting that one star howler of a review. There’s always some smart arse who sussed the killer by page ten, or who really couldn’t get any of your characters and thought the whole thing was tedious beyond belief. You can’t quite believe a story that took you years to write – two, in the case of The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die – can be dismissed in a short paragraph. That bit SUCKS, as does watching your book slide back in the Amazon rankings into obscurity. On the bright side, the best bit is ... well, most of it. I love working alone, talking to myself aloud about plot points, allowing my characters to become real to me, picking my nose without fear of discovery, sitting in my pyjama bottoms without fear of fashion or hygiene judgement. All the things you get up to when you’re in a small, enclosed space without supervision and with the aid of alcoholic drink ... Then, realising post-publication that people love what I’ve written and totally get my characters and absolutely didn’t sodding work out who the killer was by page ten. Those are the best bits.

The pitch for your next book is …?
In The Girl Who Broke the Rules – book 2 of the George McKenzie series – the heroine, George, gets to hang out with a grade A perv who equals Hannibal Lecter in both his finesse, his intellectual prowess and his aptitude for murder. George, together with Chief Inspector Paul van den Bergen of the Dutch police, must work out who is committing a string of brutal serial killings, where victims are sliced open and emptied of their innards! There’s sex, drugs and shenanigans in Amsterdam’s red light district. It’s Silence of the Lambs meets Trainspotting!

Who are you reading right now?
I’m reading Jo Nesbo’s The Son right now, along with Angela Marsons’ Silent Scream, but I’ve just finished The Farm by Tom Rob Smith which I enjoyed hugely.

God appears and says you can only write OR read. Which would it be?
Write. Sometimes, all the naughty just has to come out.

The three best words to describe your own writing are …?
Gritty, gripping, intelligent. Well, you could swap intelligent for naughty if you’re, you know, a bit funny about the swearing and the nookie and the violence.

THE GIRL WHO WOULDN’T DIE by Marnie Riches is published by Maze.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

One to Watch: BARLOW BY THE BOOK by John McAllister

John McAllister introduced Station Sergeant Barlow in 2011 in THE STATION SERGEANT, and Barlow – as the title suggests – returns in BARLOW BY THE BOOK (Portnoy Publishing). To wit:
Station Sergeant Barlow is back, but if he thought life was going to return to normal after his last case, he couldn't have been more wrong. Barlow’s house is bombed, and he is suspended from duty on suspicion of perverting the course of justice. His problems mount when his schizophrenic wife is released unexpectedly from the mental institution and he learns the truth about her traumatic childhood; while his daughter, Vera, is shot during a robbery. He is under strict orders not to interfere in the ongoing investigations, but shooting Vera has made it personal …
  BARLOW BY THE BOOK will be published in July. For more, clickety-click here

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

News: Jane Casey Wins the Mary Higgins Clark Award

Hearty congratulations to Jane Casey, who won the Mary Higgins Clark Award last night for THE STRANGER YOU KNOW (Minotaur Books) (the announcement was made during the ongoing Mystery Writers of America / Edgar Awards season). As those in the know will, y’know, know, THE STRANGER YOU KNOW features Jane’s series heroine Maeve Kerrigan, the London-based police detective who is one of the most compellingly drawn protagonists in contemporary crime fiction. Jane has been shortlisted for a number of awards in the past, but to the best of my knowledge this is the first time she has taken home the prize, and it’s fully deserved.
  Meanwhile, Stuart Neville will go head-to-head with some real heavyweights tonight – Karin Slaughter, Stephen King, Ian Rankin – when the Edgar Award for Best Novel is announced. Can he make it an Irish double? Only that most notorious of tittle-tattlers – time – will tell …

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

News: A New Departure for William Ryan

William Ryan (right) has published a series of very good novels set in Stalin’s Russia featuring Captain Korolev, the endlessly conflicted police detective operating in an almost Kafkaesque milieu, the most recent of which was THE TWELFTH DEPARTMENT (2013). His forthcoming novel – as yet unnamed – is also an historical crime novel, although one with a rather different setting. Quoth William:
“Firstly, many apologies for not having given more regular updates on the project I’ve been working on – a novel set in 1945 Germany – although, the truth is, it’s been a bit of a struggle. The good news, however, is that it’s now largely written and from here on it will be mostly tweaking. It will be published next year by Macmillan in the UK and, as for other countries – I’ll update you when I hear.
  “What is it about? Well, a few years ago I came across some photographs which were collected together by an SS officer called Karl Hoecker in late 1944/early 1945. Hoecker was an adjutant to the Commandant of Auschwitz and the photographs, taken between June 1944 and January 1945, feature some of the worst of the Nazi War criminals, including Mengele, Baer and Hoess, in relaxed social situations. Many of the photographs were taken at the Sola Hut in a village about 20 kilometers away from Auschwitz where, it seems, the SS officers went for weekends or short leaves. The hut overlooks a lake in the Sola mountains in what is now Poland but was then, albeit temporarily, Germany. It’s a beautiful location and the people in the photographs often seem to be having a good time – which is quite shocking given that hundreds of thousands of people were being murdered nearby during this period. And the people in the photographs are the murderers.”
  For the rest of this piece, and a sample read of the first two chapters, clickety-click here

Monday, April 27, 2015

Publication: I AM IN BLOOD by Joe Murphy

The author of DEAD DOGS (2012), Joe Murphy returns to the fray with I AM IN BLOOD (Brandon), a Gothic-flavoured tale with an ominous Shakespearian title. Quoth the blurb elves:
A multi-layered, Gothic tale of obsession and bloodshed set in modern-day and Victorian Dublin.
  Present day: Seventeen-year-old Nathan Jacob’s interest in real-life crime leads him to a series of horrific murders committed in Dublin’s red-light district, The Monto, in the late nineteenth century. As he delves deeper into this grisly mystery, someone – something – begins to speak to him through the pages of time. Something half-formed and dark; something that draws Nathan and his bloodline back to Victorian Dublin and the horrors that took place there.
  1890: Sergeant George Frohmell of the Dublin Metropolitan Police is under pressure. His beloved, bedraggled city has become the hunting ground for a faceless monster, a creature that preys on the poor and vulnerable, leaving them butchered in back alleys. As the death toll increases and the violence moves ever nearer to his own heart, Frohmell must find his man – or lose everything.
  I AM IN BLOOD will be published on April 30th.