“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. “A sheer pleasure.” – Tana French. “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. “The effortless cool of Elmore Leonard at his peak.” – Ray Banks. “A fine writer at the top of his game.” – Lee Child.

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.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Publications: Irish Crime Fiction 2015

Herewith be a brief list of Irish crime fiction titles to be published in 2015, a list I’ll be updating on a regular basis throughout the year. To wit:

GUN STREET GIRL by Adrian McKinty (January 8)

MARKED OFF by Don Cameron (February 9)
TAKEN FOR DEAD by Graham Masterton (February 12)

WHITE CHURCH, BLACK MOUNTAIN by Thomas Paul Burgess (March)
THE DEFENCE by Steve Cavanagh (March 12)
THE LAKE by Sheena Lambert (March 19)

A SONG OF SHADOWS by John Connolly (April 9)
KILLING WAYS by Alex Barclay (April 9)
THE ORGANISED CRIMINAL by Jarlath Gregory (April 9)
I AM IN BLOOD by Joe Murphy

A MAD AND WONDERFUL THING by Mark Mulholland (May 8)
THE BONES OF IT by Kelly Creighton (May 15)
THE NIGHT GAME by Frank Golden (May 28)
EVEN THE DEAD by Benjamin Black (May 28)

FREEDOM’S CHILD by Jax Miller (June 2)
ONLY WE KNOW by Karen Perry (June 4)
AFTER THE FIRE by Jane Casey (June 18)
ALOYSIUS TEMPO by Jason Johnson (June 25)
THOSE WE LEFT BEHIND by Stuart Neville (June 26)

GREEN HELL by Ken Bruen (July 7)
BARLOW BY THE BOOK by John McAllister (July 26)

PRESERVE THE DEAD by Brian McGilloway (August 6)
A BEAUTIFUL DEATH by Louise Phillips (August TBC)
HIDE AND SEEK by Jane Casey (August TBC)

A DEADLY GAMBLE by Pat Mullan (September TBC)

DEATH AT WHITEWATER CHURCH by Andrea Carter (October 1)

DEAD SECRET by Ava McCarthy (November 19)
THE SILENT DEAD by Claire McGowan (November 19)

ARE YOU WATCHING ME? by Sinead Crowley (date TBC)

  If you’re an Irish crime writer with a book on the way, please feel free to drop me a line (including details on dates, publisher, etc.) if you’d like to be included in the ongoing updates.

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

Friday, April 24, 2015

One To Watch: A MAD AND WONDERFUL THING by Mark Mulholland

Set during the Troubles, A MAD AND WONDERFUL THING (Scribe Publications) is the debut novel from Mark Mulholland, and will be published on May 8th. Quoth the blurb elves:
In this passionate and heart-wrenching debut novel by Irish writer Mark Mulholland, we meet Johnny Donnelly - an intense young man who is in love with books, with his country, and with the beautiful Cora Flannery. But in his dark and secret other life he shoots British soldiers: he is an IRA sniper. How can this be? As his two worlds inevitably move towards a dramatic collision, Johnny takes us on a journey through the history, legends, and landscapes of his beloved Ireland. In the end, Johnny has to make sense of his inheritance and his life, and he does so in a riveting, redemptive, and unforgettable climax. Told in Johnny’s unique voice, and peopled by a cast of extraordinary characters, A Mad and Wonderful Thing tells its tale lightly, but pulls a heavy load. It takes us beyond the charming, familiar, and often funny experiences of everyday life to the forces that bind people together, and that set them against each other - and to the profound consequences of the choices that they make.
  As reported in the Irish Times last week, the book has already been optioned for film due to the enthusiastic support of one Liam Neeson. For the full report, clickety-click here

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Pre-Publication: EVEN THE DEAD by Benjamin Black

EVEN THE DEAD is the seventh title from Benjamin Black – aka, of course, Benny Blanco – to feature the Dublin-based pathologist Quirke. Quoth the blurb elves:
Every web has a spider sitting at the centre of it. Pathologist Quirke is back working in the city morgue, watching over Dublin’s dead. When a body is found in a burnt-out car, Quirke is called in to verify the apparent suicide of an up-and-coming civil servant. But Quirke can’t shake a suspicion of foul play. The only witness has vanished, every trace of her wiped away. Piecing together her disappearance, Quirke finds himself drawn into the shadowy world of Dublin’s elite - secret societies and high church politics, corrupt politicians and men with money to lose. When the trail eventually leads to Quirke’s own family, the past and present collide. But crimes of the past are supposed to stay hidden, and Quirke has shaken the web. Now he must wait to see what comes running out.
  EVEN THE DEAD is published on May 28th.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

News: CRIME ALWAYS PAYS Shortlisted for Goldsboro Award at Crimefest

As you might imagine, I’m absolutely delighted that CRIME ALWAYS PAYS (Severn House) has been shortlisted for the Goldsboro Last Laugh Award; as the title suggests, the award is given for comic / humorous crime fiction, and as such is something of a rarity. And the Three Regular Readers will know, of course, that I have a soft spot for this particular award because I’ve previously managed to win it, improbably enough. Anyway, the Crimefest blurb runneth thusly:
GOLDSBORO LAST LAUGH AWARD

The Goldsboro Last Laugh Award is for the best humorous crime novel first published in the British Isles in 2014. The £500 prize is sponsored by Goldsboro Books, the UK’s largest specialist in signed and/or first edition books. The winner also receives a Bristol Blue Glass vase.

The nominees are:

– Lawrence Block for The Burglar Who Counted the Spoons (Orion Publishing Group)
– Declan Burke for Crime Always Pays (Severn House Publishers)
– Christopher Fowler for Bryant & May – The Bleeding Heart (Bantam/Transworld)
– Shane Kuhn for Kill Your Boss (Little, Brown Book Group)
– Chris Pavone for The Accident (Faber & Faber)
– L. C. Tyler for Crooked Herring (Allison & Busby)

Eligible titles were submitted by publishers for the longlist, and a team of British crime fiction reviewers voted to establish the shortlist and the winning title.

CRIMEFEST annually presents a number of awards at its Gala Dinner which in 2015 will be held on Saturday, 16 May.
  The very best of luck to all the nominees, and may the funniest man win.
  For all the details on all of the Crimefest awards, including the eDunnit and Audible awards, clickety-click here

One to Watch: THE BONES OF IT by Kelly Creighton

There’s one half of Karen Perry and also Frank Golden, and now Kelly Creighton is the latest Irish poet to publish crime fiction. The Northern Ireland author publishes THE BONES OF IT (Liberties Press) next month, with the blurb running thusly:
A psychological crime thriller set in present day County Down. Twenty-two-year-old Scott McAuley, son of ex-paramilitary Duke McAuley, pens diary entries. When Scott is ousted from his politics degree course for joyriding, he returns home to live with Duke for the first time in his memory. When Scott was a baby, Duke was imprisoned for the murders of two young Catholic men, and Scott’s grandmother, Isla, became his guardian. Scott finds it difficult living with Duke now, and even more so when he starts getting paranoid that Duke is secretly seeing his ex-girlfriend.
  THE BONES OF IT is published on May 15.

Launch: THE ORGANISED CRIMINAL by Jarlath Gregory

Declan Hughes will launch Jarlath Gregory’s THE ORGANISED CRIMINAL (Liberties Press) on Thursday, April 23rd. The event takes place at 6.30pm at The Liquor Rooms, 5 Wellington Quay, Dublin 2. Quoth the blurb elves:
Spiked with black humour throughout, The Organised Criminal introduces us to Jay O’Reilly reluctantly returning to his family home. A childhood steeped in dysfunction with his family of criminals made him determined never to return, despite his attempts to leave the past behind, comes home to bid a final farewell to his recently-departed cousin Duncan. Though Jay likes to think he’s turned his back on his community, his lost past still holds a bleak fascination for him. His father, a well-known smuggler in the city with a wealthy, far-reaching empire, comes to him with a proposal. As Jay contemplates the job offer he reacquaints himself with the place and the family he left, only to find that it is exactly as hard, cold and unwelcoming as he remembered. With the anxieties and troubles of Northern Ireland as a back drop, Jay’s story becomes one of fear, family ties and self-worth. When the truth behind his father’s offer is finally revealed, Jay faces the primal struggle between familial bonds and moral obligations.
  For more on Jarlath Gregory, clickety-click here

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

News: Dennis Lehane for Listowel Writers’ Festival

Dennis Lehane (right) will appear at the Listowel Writers’ Festival on Friday, May 29th. Dennis publishes WORLD GONE BY (Little, Brown) early next month, the third in the historical crime trilogy that began with THE GIVEN DAY (2009) and continued with LIVE BY NIGHT (2012). Quoth the Festival:
Dennis Lehane grew up in Boston. His novels have been translated into more than 30 languages and have become international bestsellers and include Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone, Darkness Take My Hand and Moonlight Mile. His most recent work World Gone By, a psychologically and morally complex novel set in World War II was published March 2015. Three of his novels - Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone and Shutter Island - have been adapted into award-winning films.
  Lehane was a staff writer on the acclaimed HBO series The Wire and is a writer-producer on the fourth season of HBO’s Boardwalk Empire. His film The Drop features James Gandolfini in his last movie role. It has recently been reported in the press that Dennis has been approached to adapt the Irish crime drama Love/Hate for a US cable television network.
  Dennis Lehane will be interviewed by music and arts journalist Jim Carroll.
  For all the details, including how to book your ticket, clickety-click here

Monday, April 20, 2015

Review: A SONG OF SHADOWS by John Connolly

The 13th novel in the Charlie Parker series, John Connolly’s A Song of Shadows (Hodder & Stoughton, €22.50) opens in Maine’s remote coastal town of Boreas. Recuperating from grievous wounds sustained in his previous outing, A Wolf in Winter (2014) – Parker was declared clinically dead before being resuscitated – the private investigator is drawn into a bizarre case when an obsessive Nazi-hunter is discovered dead on a nearby beach. No stranger to evil, and still coming to terms with his experience of another realm about which “he still had questions, but no doubts,” Parker finds himself immersed in the horrors of the Holocaust, and determined that this particular evil will not thrive on his watch. Connolly has been engaged for some years now in gradually refining the supernatural and horror tropes that gave the Parker novels their distinctive identity, and A Song of Shadows, blending the language of myth and New Testament into a hardboiled tale, marks a significant shift in Parker’s metamorphosis into an explicitly Christ-like figure (“This one bleeds from the palms,” observes one of his foes). That notion has been explored before, most notably by Ross Macdonald and James Lee Burke, and while A Song of Shadows more than earns the right to be judged in such company, Connolly further appears to be breaking new ground, not least in terms of Parker’s haunting relationships with his daughters, one dead and one living. It’s a fabulous piece of work, in both senses of the word, from one of contemporary fiction’s great storytellers. ~ Declan Burke

  This review was first published in the Irish Times.

Event: The Franco-Irish Literary Festival

The 16th Franco-Irish Literary Festival takes place from April 24th – 26th, with the theme this year Crime Fiction / Festival du polar:
“The sustained popularity of the crime novel has long shown that the genre cannot be dismissed as second-class literature. From the early works of Edgar Allan Poe in the 19th century, to the recent TV series The Fall, by way of the French literary collection “Le Masque”, launched in 1927, the crime novel has always moved with the times, and today, in its many different forms, its reach extends across all layer of society. In the 1970s, the slang term “polar” was coined in France. Initially referring to the crime film genre, the term was soon universally adopted to describe the crime novel. The “polar”, this multifaceted and seldom anodyne genre, period-specific and bearing witness to all the power of the pen, is surely every bit as enigmatic and complex as the crimes and mysteries it presents to its readers.”
  Contributing authors include Stuart Neville, Sinead Crowley, John Banville and Cormac Millar on the Irish side, while France is represented by Hervé Le Corre, Chantal Pelletier, Jean-Bernard Pouy and Didier Daeninckx. The weekend will also incorporate a Crime Fiction Masterclass at the Irish Writers’ Centre hosted by Jean-Bernard Pouy.
  The events take place in Dublin Castle and at Alliance Française. For all the details on the scheduling, and how to book places, clickety-click here

Saturday, April 18, 2015

One To Watch: A LITTLE MORE FREE by John McFetridge

I’ve been a fan of John McFetridge’s for quite a few years now, and I was lucky enough to get my hands on an advance reading copy of his forthcoming A LITTLE MORE FREE (ECW Press). It’s the second novel to feature Montreal-based police constable Eddie Dougherty, and it’s an absolute cracker. Quoth the blurb elves:
Montreal, Labour Day weekend, 1972. The city is getting ready to host the first game in the legendary Summit Series between Canada and the USSR. Three men set fire to a nightclub and Constable Eddie Dougherty witnesses the deaths of 37 people. The Museum of Fine Arts is robbed and two million dollars’ worth of paintings are stolen. Against the backdrop of these historic events, Dougherty discovers the body of a murdered young man on Mount Royal. As he tries to prove he has the stuff to become a detective, he is drawn into the world of American draft dodgers and deserters, class politics, and organized crime.
  The bad news? A LITTLE MORE FREE won’t be published until September. Still, it’ll be worth waiting for, and in the meantime you can catch up on John’s previous offerings. To keep up to date on future developments, wander on over to John’s blog

Friday, April 17, 2015

News: THE LOST AND THE BLIND by Declan Burke

As the more eagle-eyed of the Three Regular Readers may have noted, I was away on holidays / vacation / the lam (delete as appropriate) for the first couple of weeks in April, a period which coincided with the US publication of THE LOST AND THE BLIND.
  If it’s okay with you, there’s one or three things I’d like to bring to your attention:
The Kindle publication of THE LOST AND THE BLIND;

Some very positive Amazon reviews in the UK and US for THE LOST AND THE BLIND;

An interview published by the RTE Ten website;

My ‘What Writers Are Reading’ offering, courtesy of the inestimable Marshal Zeringue;

A very nice review from that tireless champion of Irish crime writers, the Bookwitch;

And, finally, the delightful news that CRIME ALWAYS PAYS has been longlisted – in a list of 30 books, admittedly – for the Goldsboro Award for Comedy Crime Fiction, the winner of which will be announced at the Bristol Crimefest.
  So there you have it. I really should go away more often, shouldn’t I?

Thursday, April 16, 2015

News: Eoin McNamee Shortlisted for Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year

Hearty congratulations to Eoin McNamee, whose BLUE IS THE NIGHT has been shortlisted for the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year award. Eoin is nominated alongside David Butler, Nuala Ní Chonchúir, Patrick O’Keeffe and Eibhear Walshe, and the winner will be announced on May 29th, during Listowel Writers’ Week. For all the details, clickety-click here
  I reviewed BLUE IS THE NIGHT a couple of weeks ago: “a beguiling, gripping tale that deserves to be considered a masterpiece of Irish noir fiction, regardless of whether its hue is black or the darkest blue.” For the full review, clickety-click here

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Review: KILLING WAYS by Alex Barclay

Ren Bryce, the Denver-based FBI agent with the ‘Safe Streets’ programme, returns in Alex Barclay’s seventh novel, Killing Ways (Harper Collins, €16.99). A particularly vicious serial killer is targeting women in Denver, but Ren, bi-polar and off her meds in order to stay sharp, may not be the best person to lead the investigation. There’s a raw intimacy to Barclay’s portrayal of Ren Bryce, given that we’re privy to the self-torturing Ren’s unfiltered thought process, an intimacy that becomes all the more charged when we discover that she is chasing the killer who first appeared in Barclay’s debut, Dark House (2005). The most remarkable aspect of the novel, however, is the degree to which Barclay forces the reader to consider the consequences of brutal murder – indeed, there’s an element of horror in the brutal poetry that describes not only the victims’ remains, but the reasons why the killer is possessed of such savagery. ~ Declan Burke

  This review was first published in the Irish Times.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Blog: Crime Fiction Ireland

There’s a very good chance you’re already familiar with Crime Fiction Ireland, a new (or new to me, at least) blog that pretty much does exactly what it says on the tin. Edited by Lucy Dalton, the blog covers crime and mystery fiction of all hues, TV and film, provides author profiles and a ‘What’s On’ slot, and also offers a Short Fiction selection. To be honest, it’s what Crime Always Pays would be if I had about three heads and sixteen hands … or would have been, I should say, because now that Crime Fiction Ireland is on the case, I’m kicking back, hanging up the blogger’s equivalent of the quill, and enjoying the show. If I was you, I’d get over to Crime Fiction Ireland right now, bookmark it, and never come back here again. Toodle-pip …

Review: DEADLY INTENT by Anna Sweeney

One of the reasons why Irish crime writing took so long to develop as a body of work is that Ireland lacked the kind of large, anonymous urban settings where crime fiction tends to thrive. In the era before the Celtic Tiger, in an Ireland long characterised by its squinting windows, the identity of a murderer was often known even before the gardaí arrived on the scene, which rather undermined the suspense element of a ‘whodunit’. There were exceptions, of course – we can go all the way back to Gerald Griffin’s The Collegians (1829), or more recently Patrick McGinley’s superb Bogmail (1978) – but for the most part it took a very brave writer to place an Irish murder mystery in a rural setting.
  The rise of Irish crime fiction has redrafted the parameters, of course, to the point where Anna Sweeney can set her debut novel Deadly Intent (Severn House) on the Beara Peninsula and hardly raise an eyebrow (the novel was originally published as gaeilge as Cló Iar-Chonnacht in 2010). The story opens with the discovery of an unconscious woman on a remote hiking trail; her name is Maureen, and she is a guest at Nessa McDermott’s country house Cnoc Meala (Honey Hill). Ambitious young garda Redmond Joyce (“clean-scrubbed and shiny”) is keen to solve the crime as a ticket away from the easy-going pace of life in southwest Ireland to the more adrenaline-charged environs of a big city posting, but soon the entire community is shocked to discover that Maureen’s alleged attacker, millionaire businessman Oscar Malden, has been brutally killed. As a media feeding frenzy descends on Beara, and the gardaí begin to wonder why Nessa’s husband Patrick has departed the country for Malawi at this crucial time, Nessa – herself a former investigative journalist – sets out to discover the truth behind Oscar Malden’s murder.
  What transpires is a murder mystery that firmly inhabits the ‘cosy’ end of the crime fiction spectrum. “Jack makes it all sound like a James Bond film,” observes one of Nessa’s friends about a tabloid hack making hay from the tragic events, but the country house, the idyllic rural backdrop and Nessa’s status as an amateur detective suggest that Deadly Intent is a charming throwback to the ‘Golden Age’ of 1930s mystery fiction. That said, the story is highly contemporary: one sub-plot involves a Russian ship and its crew abandoned by its owners in a nearby port, while drug smuggling on the southwest coast also features, as does illegal international arms dealing.
  One of the novel’s most striking features, unsurprisingly, is its use of the dramatic landscape, which is vividly sketched by Sweeney: “Behind them, Beara’s great backbone of the Caha mountains stretched out along the peninsula. Ahead of them … the dark waters of Lake Glanmore in the embrace of shapely hills; beyond it, a quilted blanket of fertile farmland and abundant hedges; and on neighbouring Iveragh peninsula across the slender rim of the bay, the tip of Carrantouhil, the country’s highest mountain, rising up to the clouds above the muscular shoulders of the Reeks.”
  As beautifully written as it is, there is perhaps a little too much by way of descriptive digression in Deadly Intent, and Nessa’s roundabout way of investigating the murder – which has, admittedly, the ring of truth; in rural Ireland, as with the Beara’s topography, the quickest route between two points is rarely a straight line – nevertheless slows down the main narrative and the central investigation. Those with patience will be rewarded, however, by a mystery with plenty of twists and turns, and one that is entirely faithful to its time and place. ~ Declan Burke

  This review was first published in the Irish Examiner.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Publication: The US release of THE LOST AND THE BLIND by Declan Burke

I’m heading off on holidays in the next couple of days, which is nice, although it does mean that I’ll be away from the desk when THE LOST AND THE BLIND (Severn House) gets its official US release, on April 1st [insert your own April Fool gags here]. Quoth the blurb elves:
This gripping Irish thriller is an intriguing new departure for comic noir writer Declan Burke.
  “A dying man, if he is any kind of man, will live beyond the law.” The elderly German, Karl Uxkull, was senile or desperate for attention. Why else would he concoct a tale of Nazi atrocity on the remote island of Delphi, off the coast of Donegal? And why now, 60 years after the event, just when Irish-American billionaire Shay Govern has tendered for a prospecting licence for gold in Lough Swilly? Journalist Tom Noone doesn’t want to know. With his young daughter Emily to provide for, and a ghost-writing commission on Shay Govern’s autobiography to deliver, the timing is all wrong. Besides, can it be mere coincidence that Karl Uxkull's tale bears a strong resemblance to the first thriller published by legendary spy novelist Sebastian Devereaux, the reclusive English author who has spent the past 50 years holed up on Delphi? But when a body is discovered drowned, Tom and Emily find themselves running for their lives, in pursuit of the truth that is their only hope of survival.
  So there you have it. The early word has been quite positive, I’m delighted (and, as always, relieved) to say. To wit:
“Burke shows again that he’s not just a comic genius, but also a fine dramatic writer and storyteller.” – Booklist

“There’s much, much more, and readers with the patience to watch as Burke (Crime Always Pays, 2014, etc.) peels back layer after layer will be rewarded with an unholy Chinese box of a thriller. Make that an Irish-German box.” – Kirkus Reviews

“In “The Lost and the Blind,” Declan Burke weaves plot twist after plot twist together to create a thriller full of mystery and intrigue … Not many authors are capable of successfully pulling off such a complex plot, but Burke does and makes it seem effortless.” – Library Thing
  If that sounds like your kind of book, you can find THE LOST AND THE BLIND here. I thank you for your consideration …

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Review: John Banville on Georges Simenon’s THE BLUE ROOM

John Banville had a fine piece in last weekend’s Irish Times, in which he reviewed Georges Simenon’s THE BLUE ROOM, which has just been republished by Penguin Classics. Sample quote:
“Like all writers he wrote for himself, but before and after writing he had a lively sense of his audience: he wrote for everyone, and anyone can read him, with ease and full understanding. Not for him the prolixity of Joyce or the exquisite nuances of Henry James. This is what Roland Barthes called “writing degree zero”, cool, controlled and throbbing with passion.”
  For the rest, clickety-click here

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Event: ‘Irish Noir’ at Harrogate

The Harrogate festival – wisely, in my opinion – corral almost all of the appearing Irish writers onto one panel this year, as Stuart Neville, Steve Cavanagh, Brian McGilloway, Adrian McKinty and Eoin McNamee take to the stage under the banner of ‘Irish Noir’ (William Ryan also appears at Harrogate, albeit on a different panel). The festival runs from July 16 to 19, with the Irish Noir event taking place at noon on Friday 17th. The very, very best of luck to whatever unfortunate is scheduled to moderate that particular panel …
  Elsewhere, a couple of stand-out highlights of the festival include Val McDermid interviewing Sara Paretsky, and Arnaldur Indridason interviewed by Barry Forshaw.
  For all the details, clickety-click here

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

“Ya Wanna Do It Here Or Down The Station, Punk?” Richard Beard

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?

I love the Robert B. Parker Spenser novels (‘you remember more stuff that doesn’t make you money than anyone I know’). I’m also a big fan of the Australian crime writer Peter Temple. My favourite of his has to be The Fatal Shore, and if I were Australian and utterly brilliant, that’s the novel I’d like to have written.

What fictional character would you most like to have been?

Ah, I know the answer to this one - not anyone realistic. Otherwise I could become that person in real life. I’d like to be someone so obviously fictional that I’d live an entirely novel experience. Maybe one of the characters from The Da Vinci Code, though none of the ones that get killed (though how would it feel to be killed, if I were fictional?)

Who do you read for guilty pleasures?

Most writers will tell you, a little righteously, that no reading should feel guilty. I’m not among them. When nothing else hits the spot I go to the library and take out a celebrity biography. I’m a sucker for the rags (not always that raggy) to riches (usually surprisingly rich). Recent under-the-cover reads have included Chris Evans and Alex James. But like McDonalds, one is enough for a while.

Most satisfying writing moment?

There comes a time towards the end of writing a novel when it feels as if the plane is coming into land. The effort of getting this unwieldy contraption off the ground, then finding a destination, then managing the fuel (add other flying metaphors to taste) is almost at an end. Now there are small tweaks that can make significant improvements, and my fingers feel the music in the keyboard. I’m overcome by a physical sense of elation. The euphoria doesn’t last, but that’s the best bit.

If you could recommend one Irish crime novel, what would it be?

This feels the wrong way round – Crime Always Pays should be recommending Irish crime novels to me. I’m pretty up to speed on the brilliant Stuart Neville, and would recommend him to anyone who enjoys a bit of finely-crafted mayhem.

What Irish crime novel would make a great movie?

Kevin Barry’s City of Bohane, with its dapper gangsters and eternal grudges, has to count as a crime novel (among other possible classifications). And even though the rhythms of the language are one of the great pleasures of the Kevin Barry reading experience, the world he creates is intensely visual. He writes a future in techni-colour, and a daring film-maker who could combine the Bohane plot with a cinematic equivalent to Barry’s language could make a film like no other.

Worst / best thing about being a writer?

I like being in charge of my own time, when I am. Not so keen on the anxiety, but mustn’t grumble.

The pitch for your next book is …?

Italian-born Claudia Moretti, as she approaches retirement as a state-employed Speculator, is assigned to Messiah Watch. In particular, she responds to reports of cults where the leader claims to be immortal - from experience the government knows that immortality is trouble. There’s an easy way to refute the claim to immortality, but when Claudia is sent to small town Ephesus in bible-belt Georgia, nothing is quite as it seems.

Acts of the Assassins is the second book in a trilogy, following Lazarus is Dead. This is a ‘trilogy’ in a very loose sense – all three books are self-contained. At the end of Acts of the Assassins all the disciples are dead, except John. This is his story. (Which doesn’t yet have a title – suggestions welcome).

Who are you reading right now?

I’m reading a Bible commentary by Richard Bauckham called The Theology of the Book of Revelation, and alternating that chapter by chapter with an idiot’s guide to physics: The Quantum Universe: Everything that Can Happen Does Happen, by Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw. You did ask.

God appears and says you can only write OR read. Which would it be?

Would have to be reading. Other writers (especially all of them gathered together) have much more of interest to say than I do.

The three best words to describe your own writing are …?
Never knowingly unedited.

Acts of the Assassins by Richard Beard is published by Harvill Secker.