“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.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Publication: ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE NORTH WEST by Garbhan Downey

Derry’s finest Garbhan Downey publishes his eighth novel, ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE NORTH WEST (Guildhall Press). Quoth the Derry Journal:
‘Once Upon A Time in the North West’, the eighth novel from the Derry writer, charts the fortunes of a family run newspaper in the city from its foundation in 1912 until the meeting between former IRA leaders and Queen Elizabeth II in 2012-one hundred years on.
  This story will take readers to both sides of the Atlantic; through the War of Independence, the Civil War, the Great Depression, World War II, gerrymandering and political corruption, the formation of JFK’s Irish Camelot, the Civil Rights Movement, sectarian murders, the hunger strikes and the ceasefires.
  As all this develops the novel focuses on the death of a well-connected Irish newspaper owner, Sean Madden. His passing triggers a secret hunt for his memoirs. As owner of the North West Chronicle, Sean Madden had accumulated a in-depth memoir of what actually happened and hugely at odds of official accounts. As such, the Americans want to get their hands on it before the British and the Irish. Yet, Madden’s hard-nosed granddaughter Maeve, heir to the newspaper, has her own interests to protect as well.
  This historical novel-cum-21st century mystery makes for a pulsating page turner that transports the reader on an epic journey of war and peace, love and loss, politics and criminality across the twentieth century.
  For more, clickety-click here

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Publications: Irish Crime Fiction 2015

Herewith be a brief list of Irish crime fiction titles published / to be published in 2015 / 2016, a list I’ll be updating on a regular basis throughout the year. To wit:


PRESERVE THE DEAD by Brian McGilloway (August 6)
PAST DARKNESS by Sam Millar (August 10)
AFTERMATH by Casey Hill (August 17)

WITH OUR BLESSING by Jo Spain (September 3)
THE GAME CHANGER by Louise Phillips (September 3)
DEATH AT WHITEWATER CHURCH by Andrea Carter (September 3)
A DEADLY GAMBLE by Pat Mullan (September TBC)
SNAPSHOTS by Michael O’Higgins (September 30)

SILENCE by Anthony J. Quinn (November 5)
DUBLIN SEVEN by Frankie Gaffney (November 8)
BARLOW BY THE BOOK by John McAllister (November 12)
THE SILENT DEAD by Claire McGowan (November 19)
DEADLIGHT by Desmond J. Doherty (November 20)
ALIBI FOR EVIL by Michael Haskins (November 22)
A FATAL INHERITANCE by Cora Harrison (November 27)
ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE NORTH WEST by Garbhan Downey (November TBC)


DEAD SECRET by Ava McCarthy (January 14)
RAIN DOGS by Adrian McKinty (January 21)

PIMP by Ken Bruen & Jason Starr (March 18)
THE PLEA by Steve Cavanagh (March 24)

A TIME OF TORMENT by John Connolly (April 7)

THE CITY IN DARKNESS by Michael Russell (May 5)

LYING IN WAIT by Liz Nugent (June TBC)

PARADIME by Alan Glynn (August 2)
TREACHEROUS STRAND by Andrea Carter (August 4)
THE TRESPASSER by Tana French (August 11)

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

Friday, November 27, 2015

Launch: ECHOWAVE by Joe Joyce

Joe Joyce publishes the third in his WWII-set mysteries, ECHOWAVE (Liberties Press) next week. Quoth the blurb elves:
June 1941. An American plane crashes in the west of Ireland. Its cargo of booze, cigarettes and caviar destined for the US embassy in London includes a piece of secret military hardware of great interest to the Germans. The device disappears from the wreckage. Paul Duggan, a young Irish military intelligence officer still pining for a beautiful Austrian-Jewish refugee who has moved on to a new life in New York, sets out to find it before the Germans do. Meanwhile, the United States and the British are pushing neutral Ireland to help protect their Atlantic convoys, which would involve it in the war. The search and the diplomatic arm-twisting become entwined and take Duggan to the dangerous back streets of Lisbon, the war’s spy centre, where the intelligence games between the Allies and the Nazis can turn deadly.
  For a review of Joe Joyce’s ECHOLAND, clickety-click here

Thursday, November 26, 2015

News: Jane Casey’s AFTER THE FIRE Wins the Irish Crime Novel of the Year

Hearty congratulations to Jane Casey, whose AFTER THE FIRE (Ebury Press) won the Ireland AM Crime Book of the Year at last night’s Irish Book Awards. I can only imagine that Jane was a popular winner on the night, given that (a) the Maeve Kerrigan novels are very good indeed, and (b) this was her fourth time to be nominated, and her first win at the IBAs (Jane, of course, won the Mary Higgins Clark Award earlier this year, for THE STRANGER YOU KNOW). Writing in the Irish Times, Declan Hughes had this to say about AFTER THE FIRE:
“The latest in Jane Casey’s excellent series of police procedurals, After the Fire (Ebury Press, £12.99) sees DC Maeve Kerrigan and her colleagues investigate the aftermath of a fire on the top floors of Murchison House, a 1970s tower block in the Maudling council estate … Casey writes with a deft wit and immense skill … The Maeve Kerrigan books keep getting better and better.”

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Publication: SILENCE by Anthony J. Quinn

Anthony J. Quinn is one of the most under-appreciated of the new wave of Irish crime writers. SILENCE (Head of Zeus), published on November 5th, is his fifth novel, and the third – following on from DISAPPEARED and BORDER ANGELS – to feature Northern Ireland police detective Celcius Daly. To wit:
A bizarre road accident propels Celcius Daly into an investigation that will reveal the truth about his mother’s death thirty years ago. Father Aloysius Walsh spent the last years of his life painstakingly collecting evidence of murder: a year-long killing spree of unparalleled savagery that blighted Ireland’s borderlands at the end of the 1970s. Pinned to his bedroom wall, a macabre map charts the grim territory of death: victims, weapons, wounds, dates - and somehow, amid the forest of pins and notes, he had discerned a pattern ...
  So why did Father Walsh deliberately drive through a cordon of policemen and off the road to his death? Why, when Inspector Celcius Daly arrives at the scene, does he find Special Branch already there? And why is his mother’s name on the priest’s map?
  The past poisons the present and Daly’s life will never be the same again.
  For a review of Anthony Quinn’s DISAPPEARED, clickety-click here

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Irish Crime Fiction Novel of the Year – The Shortlist

The very best of luck to all the nominees in the Irish Book Awards, which takes place tomorrow night, Wednesday 25th November. Naturally, we'll be keeping a close eye on the Crime Book of the Year category, sponsored by Ireland AM. To wit:

Hearty congratulations to all the authors shortlisted for the Ireland AM Crime Book of the Year, which was announced on November 4th. There are two things here worth noting, I think – the first is that the recent trend of women dominating Irish crime fiction looks set fair to continue; and that Jane Casey has been shortlisted for what is (by my calculations) the 141st time. Surely that woman’s time has come …
  Anyhoo, the shortlist is as follows:
Ireland AM Crime Book of the Year

• EVEN THE DEAD by Benjamin Black (Viking)

• FREEDOM’S CHILD by Jax Miller (HarperCollins)

• ARE YOU WATCHING ME? by Sinead Crowley (Quercus)

• ONLY WE KNOW by Karen Perry (Michael Joseph)

• THE GAME CHANGER by Louise Phillips (Hachette Books Ireland)

• AFTER THE FIRE by Jane Casey (Ebury Press)
  For the details of all the books nominated in all Irish Book Award categories, clickety-click here

Friday, November 20, 2015

First Look: DEAD SECRET by Ava McCarthy

Ava McCarthy is best known for her series of thrillers featuring Harry Martinez, but her latest, the forthcoming DEAD SECRET (Harper), is a standalone. To wit:
From the author of the Harry Martinez thrillers comes a gripping psychological suspense novel.
  Two quick shots. One for him. One for you.
  After the death of her three-year-old daughter, Jodie has nothing left to live for – or almost nothing.
  She has one task to fulfil before she takes her own life. And that’s to kill the man she holds responsible for her daughter’s death – her seemingly perfect husband, Ethan.
  But Ethan is hiding more than just his true nature. And as more horrifying secrets from his past emerge, Jodie’s strength will be pushed to the limit …
  DEAD SECRET will be published on January 14th. For more, clickety-click here

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Review: DID YOU EVER HAVE A FAMILY by Bill Clegg

Longlisted for this year’s Booker Prize and National Book Awards, Bill Clegg’s Did You Ever Have A Family (Jonathan Cape) is a moving meditation on grief and mourning. Set in the small town of Wells, Connecticut, a town in economic decline which serves as a weekend and holiday destination for New Yorkers, the story opens with 16-year-old Silas waking to the sound of sirens, and discovering that smoke is rising into the sky from a house not far from his own home.
  Clegg employs a number of characters to tell his story, and the perspective quickly switches to that of June, a native New Yorker who has just decided to leave Wells. It is now some weeks after the fire observed by Silas; we learn that the fire was the result of a gas leak in June’s house, where the wedding of her daughter Lolly and Lolly’s fiancé Will was due to take place. June is the only survivor of the blaze, which also killed her boyfriend, Luke. Numbed by the horror of her loss, June leaves Wells forever, not particularly caring where she drives.
  The perspective switches again, as Clegg continues to assemble the pieces of his mosaic-style narrative. We meet Lydia, Luke’s mother; Kelly, who runs the Moonstone Motel in Washington State, where June eventually fetches up; Cissy, the cleaner at the Moonstone who takes June under her wing; Dale, the father of Will; and Silas, who has guilty secrets he is desperate to confess.
  It’s a slow-burning tale initially, as the reader waits for the various pieces of the mosaic to fit and a pattern to emerge, but the patient reader will be richly rewarded. Clegg’s style allows for a number of ways of looking at the same central issue – the mystery of what caused the tragic fire – and also allows the story to move back and forth in time, so that at times we are observing people in the days, years and sometimes decades prior to the tragedy, while at other times we are exploring the consequences of the fire and the deaths, and learning how people are living with their loss and grief.
  It’s not quite as straightforward as Clegg simply slotting various pieces of story ‘jigsaw’ into place, however. As the story continues, the perspectives and personal stories begin to overlap in places, as accounts reinforce and sometimes contradict and occlude one another, which adds more dimensions to the individual stories and gives a greater depth and poignancy to the tale as a whole.
  In a quietly ambitious novel, Clegg weaves fascinating themes of impermanence (motels provide a recurring motif) and fractured families into his story, although the novel is at its most powerful when Clegg address the central issue of grief and death, and particularly in terms of that most devastating of losses, when a parent loses a child (June, Lydia and Dale have all lost children to the fire). “We’ve learned that grief can sometimes get loud,” observes Dale at one point of his changing relationship with his wife, “and when it does, we try not to speak over it.”
  It’s a haunting, affecting story of tragedy in a minor key, a restrained and dignified excavation of the deepest emotions that never veers into the realms of the sentimental. The final perspective in the novel is provided by Cissy, when she realises that June and Lydia have found a kind of solace in one another. “Rough as life can be,” Cissy says, “I know in my bones we are supposed to stick around and play our part … Someone down the line might need to know you got through it.”

This review was first published in the Irish Examiner

Monday, November 16, 2015

Publication: THE SILENT DEAD by Claire McGowan

Claire McGowan publishes THE SILENT DEAD (Headline), the third in her series of novels featuring forensic psychologist Paula Maguire, on November 19th. To wit:
Victim: Male.
Mid-thirties. 5’7”.
Cause of death: Hanging. Initial impression - murder.
ID: Mickey Doyle. Suspected terrorist and member of the Mayday Five.

The officers at the crime scene know exactly who the victim is. Doyle was one of five suspected bombers who caused the deaths of sixteen people. The remaining four are also missing and when a second body is found, decapitated, it’s clear they are being killed by the same methods their victims suffered. Forensic psychologist Paula Maguire is assigned the case but she is up against the clock - both personally and professionally. With moral boundaries blurred between victim and perpetrator, will be Paula be able to find those responsible? After all, even killers deserve justice, don’t they?
  Not one to rest on her laurels, Claire McGowan will publish the fourth Paula Maguire novel, A SAVAGE HUNGER, in March 2016.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Review: THE OUTSIDER: MY LIFE IN INTRIGUE by Frederick Forsyth

“Where do you get your ideas?” is a question most writers come to dread, and may well be one of the reasons why Frederick Forsyth has finally published his autobiography. The author of best-selling thrillers such as The Day of the Jackal (1971), The Fourth Protocol (1984), The Kill List (2013) and many more, Forsyth has lived a storied life, and one that has, as the subtitle ‘My Life in Intrigue’ suggests, directly impacted on his fiction.
  Born in 1938, the young Forsyth grew up a child of the Cold War. A flair for languages and travel ensured that he was fluent in French, Spanish, German and Russian before he left school, although his true passion was flying. He was also, it seems, something of a lightning conductor for trouble. In 1958, for example, aged just 19 and with a month to kill at the end of this RAF fighter pilot training, Forsyth decided to use the time to travel to the Middle East, via Malta, Cyprus and Lebanon. “I had been away three weeks,” he writes as he concludes his eventful holiday, “experiencing one mid-air near disaster, one civil war and two uprisings.”
  Such was not untypical of Forsyth’s life. “We all make mistakes,” he begins this book, “but starting the Third World War would have been a rather large one.” That particular snafu occurred when Forsyth was living in East Berlin as a Reuters correspondent in the early 1960s, where he would on occasion, and despite the shadowing presence of the Communist regime, moonlight on behalf of the British secret service. Nor was that the last time Forsyth would operate as an ‘asset’: while never a spy, Forsyth regularly made himself available to facilitate operations run by the SIS / MI6.
  Indeed, so packed with incident was the first half of his life – he covered the Biafran War as a BBC foreign correspondent, got involved with Russian princesses, romanced beautiful Czechoslovakian spies, flew with the Red Arrows – that Forsyth doesn’t get around to talking about his fiction until we’re about two-thirds of the way through this memoir. A hard-bitten, cynical journalist by 1970, Forsyth was still naïve enough as a novelist not to realise that a thriller about an assassination attempt on a living historical figure – Charles De Gaulle – simply wouldn’t work. The result, The Day of the Jackal, was a ground-breaking tour-de-force of realism, largely due to Forsyth’s insider knowledge of guarding De Gaulle, garnered from a Corsican ex-Foreign Legion mercenary Forsyth met while working in Biafra.
  And on the anecdotes go. While living in Ireland in the 1970s, Forsyth becomes a regular dinner-party companion of the ‘amusing rogue’ Charles Haughey, who offers the author the position of Senator. For The Cobra (2010), and now in his seventies, Forsyth flew into the ‘West African hell-hole’ of Guinea-Bissou to research cocaine-smuggling, “where I had staged through forty years earlier, perched on a crate of mortars, when a bullet came through the floor and went through the ceiling.”
  He can be forthright in his criticism of certain aspects of British foreign policy, and pulls no punches when detailing his time working for the BBC, but for the most part Forsyth makes for an urbane narrator, the stories unfolding in the manner of tall tales and outrageous yarns swapped beside the blazing fire of an exclusive club, and best enjoyed with a glass of something amber in hand. It’s Boy’s Own stuff, of course, and overall The Outsider is an enthralling account of a life that would make for a thrilling, if delightfully implausible, novel. ~ Declan Burke

  This review was first published in the Irish Examiner