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, October 28, 2016

Publication: BOOKS TO DIE FOR, edited by John Connolly and Declan Burke

I’m delighted to announce that BOOKS TO DIE FOR is now available in trade paperback. An award-winning collection of essays on the great crime / mystery novels, penned by the great contemporary crime / mystery authors, BTDF was described by the Washington Post as “As good a collection of short essays on crime fiction as one is likely to find.” To wit:
The world’s most beloved mystery writers celebrate their favourite mystery novels in this gorgeously wrought collection, featuring essays by Michael Connelly, Kathy Reichs, Ian Rankin, and more. In the most ambitious anthology of its kind, the world’s leading mystery writers come together to champion the greatest mystery novels ever written. In a series of personal essays that reveal as much about the authors and their own work as they do about the books that they love, over a hundred authors from twenty countries have created a guide that will be indispensable for generations of readers and writers. From Agatha Christie to Lee Child, from Edgar Allan Poe to P. D. James, from Sherlock Holmes to Hannibal Lecter and Philip Marlowe to Lord Peter Wimsey, Books to Die For brings together the best of the mystery world for a feast of reading pleasure, a treasure trove for those new to the genre and for those who believe that there is nothing new left to discover. This is the one essential book for every reader who has ever finished a mystery novel and thought … I want more!
  For all the details, clickety-click here

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Irish Crime Fiction: Whither the Traditional Whodunnit?

John Curran reviewed TROUBLE IS OUR BUSINESS (New Island) for the Irish Times last weekend, and concluded his review with a glowing recommendation: “[T]his collection can be confidently recommended to anyone who reads any type of crime fiction. They will find something to tease and tantalise their inner detective.”
  However, Curran, one of the world’s foremost scholars on Agatha Christie, pointed out a notable absence in a collection that covers, “with one exception, the entire crime spectrum.” To wit:
“This is a personal disappointment: despite the wide variety of story types here there is no traditional whodunnit. Not necessarily a Miss-Scarlett-in-the- library-with-the-spanner exercise, but is a variation thereon too much to ask?”
  Curran goes on to say that, “Admittedly, there is little or no tradition of this type of writing in this country.” This is true, but given the fact that Irish crime writing is still a relatively new literary phenomenon, the same could be said of virtually every other kind of story represented in the anthology.
  So: whither the traditional whodunnit in Irish crime fiction?
  It’s possible, of course, that some authors commissioned to contribute to the anthology who might have written a traditional mystery chose otherwise, given that the writers were offered the freedom of a blank slate, and some opted to write a different kind of story than they might usually do. It’s also true, I think, that some writers who have recently debuted – Jo Spain springs to mind, as does Andrea Carter – have written novels in the traditional whodunnit vein, and may have contributed that kind of story had they been commissioned.
  Overall, though, I think John Curran makes a very good point: the traditional whodunnit mystery has been largely notable by its absence over the last three decades of Irish crime writing. Is that because, as Fintan O’Toole once suggested, our historically small population and tightly-knit communities lent themselves to an almost immediate identification of a crime’s perpetrator, and thus whydunnits rather than whodunnits? Is it because Irish writers have largely, if not exclusively, tended to look to the American rather than British model of classic crime / mystery fiction? Or is it – a flight of fancy – a post-colonial hangover, and the ingrained, subconscious fear of being denounced as a spy or collaborator for fingering a perpetrator to the perfidious authorities?
  Naturally, it’s very difficult to offer any definitive answers. I’d imagine that very few writers sit down to write a book with the above questions in mind; every book is a personal response to a unique set of motives. Perhaps the traditional mystery story will belatedly come into vogue in Irish crime writing (I would argue that Cora Harrison’s novels already fall into this category), and perhaps Joanne Spain and Andrea Carter are already in the vanguard. If so, it’s a new direction to be welcomed, and one that will add another layer to the depth and breadth of Irish crime writing.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

News: the Irish Book Awards’ Crime Fiction Shortlist

White smoke billows, the bells ring out, trumpets parp, etc. – the shortlists for the Irish Book Awards have been announced, and the nominations for the Crime Fiction Award look a lot like this:
Crime Fiction Award
Distress Signals – Catherine Ryan Howard (Corvus)
Little Bones – Sam Blake (Bonnier Zaffre)
Lying In Wait – Liz Nugent (Penguin Ireland)
The Constant Soldier – William Ryan (Mantle)
The Drowning Child – Alex Barclay (HarperCollins)
The Trespasser – Tana French (Hachette Ireland)
  Those of you with long memories will remember that I suggested a shortlist about a month ago; of that list (of five books), there are two books on the actual shortlist – Tana French’s THE TRESPASSER and Liz Nugent’s LYING IN WAIT – but there’s no place for Alan Glynn’s PARADIME, Adrian McKinty’s RAIN DOGS or Stuart Neville’s SO SAY THE FALLEN. I did suggest that Sam Blake and Catherine Ryan Howard might well make the shortlist, although I wrote off William Ryan’s excellent THE CONSTANT SOLDIER on the basis that it’s not a crime novel. As has been the case in recent years, the IBA has made a virtue of shortlisting debut authors (two), and there are three previous winners on the list in Alex Barclay, Tana French and Liz Nugent. As I also suggested on my shortlist prediction, women writers have continued the trend of previous years by dominating yet again, with five of the six nominations. Hearty congratulations to all those nominated, and the very best of luck; meanwhile, commiserations to all of those who weren’t shortlisted: 2016 really was a very strong year for Irish crime fiction.
  Meanwhile, a special mention for Jane Casey, whose brilliantly chilling ‘Green, Amber, Red’ – from the TROUBLE IS OUR BUSINESS collection – was shortlisted in the Short Story of the Year category. To wit:
Short Story of the Year
Here We Are – Lucy Caldwell (Faber)
K-K-K – Lauren Foley (Ol Society – Australia)
The Visit – Orla McAlinden (Sowilo Press)
Green Amber Red – Jane Casey (New Island)
The Birds of June – John Connell (Granta Magazine)
What a River Remembers of its Course – Gerard Beirne (Numero Cinq Magazine)
  For the full list of shortlists and nominations, clickety-click here

Monday, October 24, 2016

Event: Anthony J. Quinn and William Ryan at No Alibis

Belfast’s dedicated crime fiction bookstore No Alibis will host ‘An Evening with Anthony Quinn and William Ryan’ on November 4th, which promises to be a fascinating event. To wit:
An Evening with Anthony Quinn and William Ryan

Friday, November 4 at 6:30 PM

No Alibis
83 Botanic Avenue, BT7 1, Belfast


Anthony Quinn is an Irish writer and journalist. His debut novel Disappeared was shortlisted for a Strand Literary Award in the United States. It was also listed by Kirkus Reviews as one of the top ten thrillers of 2012. After its UK publication in 2014, Disappeared was selected by the Daily Mail and the Times as one of the best novels of the year. It was also long-listed for the Theakston's Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year. His short stories have twice been shortlisted for a Hennessy/New Irish Writing award. Anthony will be chatting about and launching his latest Celcius Daley novel, Trespass.

William Ryan is an Irish writer living in London. His first novel, THE HOLY THIEF, was shortlisted for the Theakstons Crime Novel of the Year, The Kerry Group Irish Fiction Award, The CWA John Creasy New Blood Dagger and a Barry Award. His second novel, THE BLOODY MEADOW, was shortlisted for the Ireland AM Irish Crime Novel of the Year. William teaches on the Crime Writing Masters at City University in London. His latest novel The Constant Soldier has been described by AL Kennedy as “a nuanced, complex and gripping tale of guilt and love that captures the chaos at the end of World War Two”.
  For all the details, clickety-click here