“Burke shows again that he’s not just a comic genius, but also a fine dramatic writer and storyteller.” – Booklist. “Prose both scabrous and poetic.” – Publishers Weekly. “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.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Event: ‘Lady Killers’ at Bray Literary Festival

The inaugural Bray Literary Festival, founded by Tanya Farrelly (right), takes place over the weekend of September 22nd – 24th, and it would be a quixotic literary festival that dared go ahead these days without at least one crime fiction panel. Which brings us rather neatly to ‘Lady Killers’, a panel composed of Arlene Hunt, Louise Phillips and Sam Blake, who will be talking all things crime fiction at Bray Town Hall on Sunday 24th, from 2-3.30pm.
  For all the details, including how to book your tickets, clickety-click here

Monday, September 4, 2017

“Ya Wanna Do It Here Or Down The Station, Punk?” Cat Hogan

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?
Probably RED DRAGON by Thomas Harris. It’s the first time we meet Hannibal – one of the best fictional characters ever created. Every other bad guy has to measure up to that murderous anti-hero.

What fictional character would you most like to have been?
Oh – that’s a good question. I should probably choose a really powerful female character such as the eponymous heroine, Jane Eyre, or even Éowyn from the Lord of the Rings trilogy – but I’m going to stick with Hannibal and his more redeeming attributes of course- the intelligence, the culture, the art and the love of food (non-human).

Who do you read for guilty pleasures?
Reading should never have any form of guilt attached to it but there’s one or two books I wouldn’t be caught dead reading – FIFTY SHADES springs to mind, but I’m sure EL James is not going to lose any sleep over that as she laughs her way to the bank. That said, I wouldn’t really be shouting from the rooftops the fact that there may be a couple of Enid Blyton books under my bed, specifically the Malory Towers and St Clare’s books. Who doesn’t enjoy a good midnight feast? There’s also a few Jackie, Bunty and Beano annuals knocking around the place at home. I got more excited than I should have really when my son arrived home from school with a Siamsa annual last year.

Most satisfying writing moment?
I was reading a short story I’d written for a cabaret last year. When I came to the end of the tale, the whole room had been moved to tears. I had taken a real punt, moving away from my comfort zone of conjuring up madmen and had gone in a very different direction with the story. It was a validation of sorts for me – as a writer, you don’t have to pigeonhole yourself into a certain category.

If you could recommend one Irish crime novel, what would it be?
I’m not sure if you would label THE BUTCHER BOY by Pat McCabe as crime but it’s one of the most terrifying and disturbing books I’ve ever read. As readers, we’re fascinated with crime and depravity – looking at it from the safety of the pages. If it gets too much, we can put it in the freezer and switch on the TV or pick up a lighter book. It’s an adrenaline rush. THE BUTCHER BOY stayed in my head for a long time after reading it. It’s certainly not for the faint of heart. But you can’t talk about Irish crime novels and not mention Liz Nugent’s UNRAVELLING OLIVER and LYING IN WAIT.

What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?
THERE WAS A CROOKED MAN, of course! Before the first novel was complete, I had the cast list written for the movie. Aidan Gillen was cast to play the role of my anti-hero, Scott. It was his voice I heard in my head as I completed THEY ALL FALL DOWN. In THERE WAS A CROOKED MAN, Scott is back and he’s up to no good. Here’s hoping, eh? I’m a step closer that I was – Aidan loved the novel and gave me a cracking cover quote. If you are going to dream, dream big!

Worst / best thing about being a writer?
Worst thing? The crippling self-doubt. The best thing? Getting an email from a reader or them telling you, in person, that they couldn’t put the book down – they stayed up all night and now have a book hangover. I’ve always been a huge bookworm and I’ve sat up all night reading. That’s the biggest compliment you can ever give a writer.

The pitch for your next book is …?
I’m just about to launch THERE WAS A CROOKED MAN and have a number of festivals and events lined up. I’m hoping things will calm down in the next few weeks – I’m itching to get back to writing. I’ve two projects on the go at the moment. One is dark and disturbing. The other? Well, that remains to be seen – the characters will dictate where that one goes.

Who are you reading right now?
I’m actually reading THE DEEP HEART’S CORE, edited by Pat Boran and Eugene O’Connell. It’s an anthology of 100 Irish poets who have chosen to come back to their own favourite poem and offer a commentary on the story behind it. Something very different for me. I had the pleasure of attending a poetry reading recently and Pat performed some of his work. He’s very gifted.

God appears and says you can only write OR read. Which would it be?
That’s a horrible question. I’d say if God appeared in my kitchen right now, he’d have more pressing issues on his agenda with me. When I started working with my editor on the first novel, forensically going through the text, it destroyed my capacity to read for pleasure. It was a temporary thing but I didn’t like it. So, to answer that god-awful question, I’d have to say ‘read’. But then again, if you could only write, you’d still have to read it, wouldn’t you?

The three best words to describe your own writing are …?
Anything can happen!

Cat Hogan’s THERE WAS A CROOKED MAN is published by Poolbeg.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

News: Adrian McKinty Wins Second Ned Kelly Award

Hearty congrats to Adrian McKinty (right), late of Carrickfergus but now living in Melbourne, Australia, who yesterday won his second Ned Kelly award, for POLICE AT THE STATION AND THEY DON’T LOOK FRIENDLY, which will no doubt look nice on the mantelpiece beside the Edgar he won earlier this year. Quoth The Australian:
As crime fiction twists go, this is up there with Arthur Conan Doyle: Belfast-born, Melbourne-based Adrian McKinty last night won a book prize for a novel starring a character he wanted to kill ages ago.
  For the rest of The Australian piece, clickety-click here.
  Herewith be yours truly’s review of POLICE AT THE STATION, which was first published in the Irish Times:
Police at the Station and They Don’t Look Friendly (Serpent’s Tail, €15.99) is the sixth in Adrian McKinty’s increasingly impressive series to feature Sean Duffy, a Catholic detective working for the RUC during Northern Ireland’s ‘Troubles’. The mystery begins with a bizarre murder, when drug dealer Francis Deauville is shot to death with a crossbow, but when Duffy starts to wonder why an ‘independent’ drug dealer who has been paying protection to the paramilitaries has been assassinated in such an exotic fashion, he finds himself assailed on all sides. Persecuted by Internal Affairs and fending off IRA attacks, Duffy digs deep into Northern Ireland’s recent past to uncover a tale of collusion and unsolved murder. The plot is as tortuously twisting as McKinty’s readers have come to expect but it’s the tone that proves the novel’s most enjoyable aspect, as Duffy delivers a first-person tale of cheerfully grim fatalism and Proddy-Taig banter, the story chock-a-block with cultural references, from NWA and Kylie Minogue to Miami Vice and The Myth of Sisyphus.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Event: NOIRELAND Crime Fiction Festival, October 27th to 29th

The inaugural NOIRELAND International Crime Fiction Festival will take place in Belfast from October 27th to 29th, featuring – and here, as always, we defer to the blurb elves – “the best in local talent, guest appearances by international crime-writing stars, and in-depth conversations with some of the greatest screenwriters to put crime dramas on the screen.
  “NOIRELAND is the brainchild of David Torrans who established the No Alibis Book Store twenty years ago and has been at the forefront promoting Irish crime fiction and bringing the greatest international crime writers to Belfast.”
  The three-day event will feature Irish writers Stuart Neville, Liz Nugent, Brian McGilloway, Adrian McKinty, Benjamin Black, Jo Spain, Claire McGowan, Anthony Quinn, Andrea Carter, Steve Cavanagh and Eoin McNamee, while Sophie Hannah, Arne Dahl, Robert Crais, Martin Edwards, Ruth Ware, Louise Welsh, Graeme McCrae Burnet, Abir Mukherjee, Ali Land and Steve Mosby are some of the international authors taking part.
  For all the details, including how to book tickets, clickety-click here

Publications: Irish Crime Fiction 2017/18

Herewith be a brief list of Irish crime fiction titles published / to be published in 2017, a list I’ll be updating on a regular basis. To wit:

POLICE AT THE STATION AND THEY DON’T LOOK FRIENDLY by Adrian McKinty (January 5)

DEAD GIRLS DANCING by Graham Masterton (February 9)
THE CORONER’S DAUGHTER by Andrew Hughes (February 23)

LET THE DEAD SPEAK by Jane Casey (March 9)
THE MISSING ONES by Patricia Gibney (March 16)
HEADBANGER / SAD BASTARD by Hugo Hamilton (March 23)

A GAME OF GHOSTS by John Connolly (April 6)
IN DEEP WATER by Sam Blake (April 11)
THE BLOOD MIRACLES by Lisa McInerney (April 20)
THE CARDINAL’S COURT by Cora Harrison (April 24)

THE THERAPY HOUSE by Julie Parsons (May 2)
THE CITY OF LIES by Michael Russell (May 4)
BAD BLOOD by Brian McGilloway (May 18)
THE LIAR by Steve Cavanagh (May 18)

SILVER’S CITY by Maurice Leitch (June 1)
PRAGUE NIGHTS by Benjamin Black (June 6)
THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WALL by Andrea Mara (June 6)
ONE BAD TURN by Sinead Crowley (June 7)
HERE AND GONE by Haylen Beck (June 13)
ENDGAME by Casey Hill (June 14)
I KNOW MY NAME by Carolyn Jess-Cooke (June 15)
THE SWINGING DETECTIVE by Henry McDonald (June 22)

THE STOLEN GIRLS by Patricia Gibney (July 6)
AFTER SHE VANISHED by S.A. Dunphy (July 13)
RAIN FALLS ON EVERYONE by Clár Ní Chonghaile (July 15)
LITTLE BIRD by Sharon Dempsey (July 26)
THE ORPHANS by Annemarie Neary (July 27)

CAN YOU KEEP A SECRET? by Karen Perry (August 26)
RAVENHILL by John Steele (August 31)

THE RELUCTANT CONTACT by Stephen Burke (Sept 7)
SLEEPING BEAUTIES by Jo Spain (September 21)
THERE WAS A CROOKED MAN by Cat Hogan (September TBA)

THE WELL OF ICE by Andrea Carter (October 5)

THE GHOSTS OF GALWAY by Ken Bruen (November 2)
BLOOD TIDE by Claire McGowan (November 9)

UNDERTOW by Anthony J. Quinn (December 14)

2018

THE CONFESSION by Jo Spain (January 25)

SKIN DEEP by Liz Nugent (March 29)

THE WOMAN IN THE WOODS by John Connolly (April 5)
TOO CLOSE TO BREATHE by Olivia Keirnan (April 5)

THIRTEEN by Steve Cavanagh (May 3)

  NB: Publication dates are given according to Amazon UK, and are subject to change.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Publication: RAVENHILL by John Steele

Described by Colin Bateman as ‘A cracking, fast-paced thriller,’ John Steele publishes the first in a Belfast-set series, RAVENHILL (Silvertail Books). Quoth the blurb elves:
Belfast, 1993: Jackie Shaw is a young tearaway running with paramilitaries in Belfast. He treads a fine line keeping psychotic hard-man Rab Simpson in check while sleeping with gang leader Billy Tyrie’s beautiful wife on the side.
  When a bomb claims nine lives, he is given the role of getaway driver in a planned reprisal killing, a key role in a major operation. But Jackie may not be who he seems ...
  Twenty years later, Jackie returns to the city for his father’s funeral after disappearing in mysterious circumstances. He wants to mourn then leave, but when figures from his past emerge, he is left with no choice but to revisit his violent former life.
  RAVENHILL will be published on August 31st.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Publication: CAN YOU KEEP A SECRET? by Karen Perry

Composed of Karen Gillece and Paul Perry, the crime-writing duo Karen Perry publish their fourth offering, the psychological thriller CAN YOU KEEP A SECRET? (Penguin), this week. Quoth the blurb elves:
It’s been twenty years since Lindsey has seen her best friend Rachel
  Twenty years since she has set foot in Thornbury Hall – the now crumbling home of the Bagenal family – where they spent so much time as teenagers. Since Patrick Bagenal’s 18th birthday party, the night everything changed.
  It’s time for a reunion
  Patrick has decided on one last hurrah before closing the doors of his family home for good. All of the old crowd, back together for a weekend.
  For the secrets to come out
  It’s not long before secrets begin to float to the surface. Everything that Lindsey shared with her best friend at sixteen and everything that she didn’t.
  But some secrets should never be told. They need to be taken to the grave. While others require revenge at any cost.
  For a review of Karen Perry’s ONLY WE KNOW, clickety click here
  For a short story from Karen Perry – ‘Tell Me Something About Your Wife’ – clickety-click here

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Irish Writers Centre Mentoring

I’m delighted to announce that as of today, yours truly is a Mentor in the Irish Writers Centre mentoring programme. Quoth the blurb elves:
 My speciality is crime fiction. As an award-winning author and editor in the genre, I can provide invaluable insights into every sub-genre of crime and mystery fiction.
 Baffled by your own plot? Unable to give your characters the desired depth? Struggling to master the intricacies of dialogue? Keen to give your prose a final polish? Whether your manuscript requires an intensive edit or one last brush-up before you send it off to an agent or publisher, I can help.
 For more information, or an informal chat, contact Declan Burke at the Irish Writers Centre.

Relevant Information:
I am an award-winning author and editor.
 I regularly tutor creative writing courses at the Irish Writers’ Centre. These courses include modules on structure, plot, character, narrative voice, setting and dialogue.
 As a proof-reader I worked for the legal publishers Thomson Round Hall.
 Since 2007, I have hosted the blog ‘Crime Always Pays’, which is dedicated to Irish crime fiction.
 I write a monthly crime fiction column for the Irish Times.
 I have hosted numerous public events and interview panels, helping to organise and co-ordinate literary festivals, including the inaugural Irish crime writing festival at Glucksman Ireland House, NYU.

Publishing History as Author:
Eightball Boogie (Sitric) (2003)
The Big O (Hag’s Head Press) (2007)
Absolute Zero Cool (Liberties Press) (2011)
Slaughter’s Hound (Liberties Press) (2012)
Crime Always Pays (Severn House) (2014)
The Lost and the Blind (Severn House (2015)

Publishing History as Editor:
Down These Green Streets: Irish Crime Writing in the 21st Century (Liberties Press) (2011)
Books to Die For (co-edited with John Connolly) (Hodder & Stoughton) (2012)
Trouble Is Our Business (New Island Books) (2016)

Nominations and Awards
Absolute Zero Cool won the Goldsboro Award in 2012. Eightball Boogie, Slaughter’s Hound and Absolute Zero Cool were all shortlisted for the crime fiction prize at the Irish Book Awards. The Big O, Slaughter’s Hound and Crime Always Pays were all shortlisted for the Goldsboro Award for Comic Crime Fiction.
Books to Die For won the Anthony and Macavity Award for Best Non-Fiction Crime. It was further nominated for the Edgar Award and HRF Keating Award for Best Critical / Biographical Crime Fiction.