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.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Publication: ENDGAME by Casey Hill

ENDGAME is the eighth novel from Casey Hill – aka Melissa Hill and her husband Kevin – to feature Reilly Steel, the Dublin-based forensic investigator. Quoth the blurb elves:
When the body of a teenage boy is found beaten to death in his own bedroom, and a girl attending a party held at his house reports an attempted sexual attack the night before, the Dublin police immediately suspect both incidents are related. But when a sweep of the crime scene throws up some truly puzzling forensic evidence, CSI Reilly Steel wonders if those initial suspicions are correct. As the investigation deepens, and her GFU team begins to delve into the online lives of both teenage victims, even more questions are raised. Can Reilly help the investigators discover the truth about what actually happened on the night of the party?
  For a review of Casey Hill’s TORN, clickety-click here

Friday, July 28, 2017

Publication: THE CORONER’S DAUGHTER by Andrew Hughes

I’m not sure how Andrew Hughes’ second novel, THE CORONER’S DAUGHTER (Doubleday), slipped under my radar – I thought his debut, THE CONVICTIONS OF JOHN DELAHUNT, was superb. Anyhoo, THE CORONER’S DAUGHTER is a historical mystery, and was published way back in February, with the blurb elves quoting thusly:
1816 was the year without a summer. A rare climatic event has brought frost to July, and a lingering fog casts a pall over a Dublin stirred by zealotry and civil unrest, torn between evangelical and rationalist dogma.
  Amid the disquiet, a young nursemaid in a pious household conceals a pregnancy and then murders her newborn. Rumours swirl about the identity of the child’s father, but before an inquest can be held, the maid is found dead. When Abigail Lawless, the eighteen-year-old daughter of Dublin’s coroner, by chance discovers a message from the maid’s seducer, she is drawn into a world of hidden meanings and deceit.
  An only child, Abigail has been raised amid the books and instruments of her father’s grim profession. Pushing against the restrictions society places on a girl her age, she pursues an increasingly dangerous investigation. As she leads us through dissection rooms and dead houses, Gothic churches and elegant ballrooms, a sinister figure watches from the shadows - an individual she believes has already killed twice, and is waiting to kill again ...
  Determined, resourceful and intuitive, Abigail Lawless emerges as a memorable young sleuth operating at the dawn of forensic science.
  For a review of THE CONVICTIONS OF JOHN DELAHUNT, clickety-click here

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Launch: I KNOW MY NAME by Carolyn Jess-Cooke

Carolyn Jess-Cooke launches her latest novel, I KNOW MY NAME (HarperCollins), at No Alibis next Thursday, August 3rd, at 6.30pm. Quoth the blurb elves:
Kommno Island, Greece: I don’t know where I am, who I am. Help me.
  A woman is washed up on a remote Greek island with no recollection of who she is or how she got there.
  Potter’s Lane, Twickenham, London: Elose Shelley is officially missing.
  Lochlan’s wife has vanished into thin air, leaving their toddler and twelve-week-old baby alone. Her money, car and passport are all in the house, with no signs of foul play. Every clue the police turn up means someone has told a lie
  Does a husband ever truly know his wife? Or a wife know her husband? Why is Elose missing? Why did she forget?
  For more on Carolyn Jess-Cooke, clickety-click here

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Review: THE LATE SHOW by Michael Connelly

The Late Show (Orion), Michael Connelly’s first novel to feature a new series character since Mickey Haller appeared in The Lincoln Lawyer (2005), opens with Renée Ballard and her partner John Jenkins taking a call to investigate credit card fraud. A mundane crime on the face of it, but par for the course: working ‘the late show’, i.e., the night shift, out of LA’s Hollywood Division, Ballard and Jenkins generally turn up to crime scenes, write their reports, then hand over the cases to the day shift the following morning.
  Connelly, however, is the creator of Harry Bosch, one of the most iconic protagonists in American crime fiction, and the deceptively routine opening quickly segues into a story that finds Ballard investigating the abduction and brutal assault of the transgender Ramona Ramone and a multiple shooting at a nightclub, during the course of which a waitress, Cynthia Haddel, is murdered simply because she is a potential witness.
  The names may have changed, then, but Connelly’s song remains essentially the same. The Late Show reads like a Bosch novel, as Connelly braids multiple investigations into his plot, driving the story onward with precise, measured prose that eschews sensationalism. Ballard, like the author, is an ex-journalist, whose ‘training and experience had given her skills that helped with [writing reports]. … She wrote short, clear sentences that gave momentum to the narrative of the investigation.’ Where Harry Bosch is a loner apart from his relationship with his daughter, Maddie, Ballard is a loner apart from her relationship with her grandmother, Tutu. Sleeping on the beach, showering and changing at the station, Ballard lives a minimalist existence that allows her dedicate herself to her work, believing that nothing should interfere with ‘the sacred bond that exists between homicide victims and the detectives who speak for them.’ Like Bosch, Ballard adheres to a Manichean philosophy: ‘big evil’ exists in the world, and her job is to prevent the spread of its ‘callous malignancy’.
  That said, Ballard is significantly more than a Bosch replacement or clone, at least for the time being (Connelly will publish the 20th Harry Bosch novel, Two Kinds of Truth, later this year). An absorbing character on her own terms, Ballard is morally disciplined but irreverently free-spirited as she goes down those mean streets (the reference to Chandler’s The Long Goodbye is no coincidence), and while she may plough a lone furrow broadly familiar to fans of Philip Marlowe, Harry Bosch or Mickey Haller, her gender allows Connelly to explore avenues closed off to his male protagonists. Her experience of institutionalised misogyny in the ranks of the LAPD may have hardened the previously idealistic Ballard, but it has not shut down her instinctive emotional responses; if anything, it has heightened her compassion for female victims of crime. Meanwhile, her sense of her own vulnerability and her attenuated awareness of possible threat, both of which feed into the story to a significant degree, are not qualities Bosch or Haller – or very few male protagonists in crime fiction, for that matter – would be likely to admit to out loud.
  Early in the novel, Ballard notes that the murdered waitress, Cynthia Haddel, was an aspiring actress who had played the part of ‘Girl at the Bar’ in an episode of the TV show Bosch, ‘which Ballard knew was based on the exploits of a now-retired LAPD detective.’ Harry Bosch has been hanging on by his fingernails for some years now, semi-retired and raging at the dying of the light, but it can only be a matter of time before Michael Connelly puts the old warhorse out to grass.
  That day may well provoke the kind of protests not witnessed since Arthur Conan Doyle tipped Sherlock Holmes off the Reichenbach Falls, but Connelly’s fans needn’t fret. In Renée Ballard, Connelly has created yet another potentially iconic tarnished knight of those perennially mean streets, a woman who understands, as her psychiatrist warns, that ‘if you go into darkness, the darkness goes into you,’ but who will defiantly stare down the abyss nonetheless. ~ Declan Burke

  This review was first published in the Irish Times.

Monday, July 24, 2017

One to Watch: THE WELL OF ICE by Andrea Carter

THE WELL OF ICE is the third in Andrea Carter’s Donegal-set series featuring her amateur sleuth solicitor Ben O’Keeffe, following on from DEATH AT WHITEWATER CHURCH and TREACHEROUS STRAND. Quoth the blurb elves:
December in Glendara, Inishowen, and solicitor Benedicta ‘Ben’ O’Keeffe is working flat-out before the holidays; the one bright spot on her horizon is spending her first Christmas with Sergeant Tom Molloy.
  But on a trip to Dublin to visit her parents, she runs into Luke Kirby - the man who killed her sister - freshly released from jail. He appears remorseful, conciliatory even, but as she walks away, he whispers something that chills her to the bone.
  Back in Glendara, there is chaos. The Oak pub has burned down and Carole Kearney, the Oak’s barmaid, has gone missing. And then on Christmas morning, while walking up Sliabh Sneacht, Ben and Molloy make a gruesome discovery: a body lying face-down in the snow.
  Who is behind this vicious attack on Glendara and its residents? Ben tries to find answers, but is she the one in danger?
  THE WELL OF ICE will be published on October 5th. For more on Andrea Carter, clickety-click here

Sunday, July 23, 2017

News: Tana French Wins the Strand Critics Award

Yours truly was away on hols last week, so it’s a belated congratulations to Tana French, who earlier this month won the Strand Critics Award for Best Novel for THE TRESPASSER. Quoth the Strand elves:
After being nominated a record five times for Best Novel, Tana French took home the top prize for The Trespasser, which received rave reviews for blurring the lines between genre and literary fiction. In a statement read by her publicist Ben Petrone, French said: “I am honored and I really wish I were there tonight, and I am relying on Ben Petrone and Andrew [Gulli] to down a couple of my favorite cocktails for me.”
  THE TRESPASSER, of course, also took home the crime gong at last year’s Irish Books of the Year bunfight. For all the other winners at the Strand Critics Awards, clickety-click here

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Publication: BEYOND ABSOLUTION by Cora Harrison

The hardest-working woman in Irish crime fiction, Cora Harrison, published BEYOND ABSOLUTION (Severn House) earlier this year, the latest in her historical mystery series featuring the Reverend Mother Aquinas and by my reckoning her fifth novel in less than two years. Quoth the blurb elves:
Ireland, 1925. Pierced through to the brain, the dead body of the priest was found wedged into the small, dark confessional cubicle. Loved by all, Father Dominic had lent a listening ear to sinners of all kinds: gunmen and policemen; prostitutes and nuns; prosperous businessmen and petty swindlers; tradesmen and thieves. But who knelt behind the metal grid and inserted a deadly weapon into that listening ear?
  The Reverend Mother Aquinas can do nothing for Father Dominic, but for the sake of his brother, her old friend Father Lawrence, she is determined to find out who killed him, and why.
  For more on Cora Harrison, clickety-click here

Monday, July 17, 2017

Feature: Benjamin Black on Crime Fiction and the City

Benjamin Black’s latest novel, PRAGUE NIGHTS (Viking), was published last month, a historical mystery set in – spoiler alert! – Prague, and sufficient reason for said Benny Blanco to wax lyrical in the Daily Telegraph on the topic of the city being God’s gift to the crime writer, said waxy lyricism encompassing the work of Raymond Chandler, Margery Allingham, Martin Cruz Smith, Michael Dibdin and Dostoevsky. To wit:
“The city is God’s gift to the crime writer. Yes, there is just as much scope, if not more, for blood-letting, skulduggery and devilment in the countryside as there is in town. However, the urban wilderness lends itself with particular aptness to noir fiction, whether it be Maigret’s Paris, Philip Marlowe’s Bay City, a lightly fictionalised version of Santa Monica, or Dostoevsky’s St Petersburg.
  “Of course, it used to be more congenial in the old days, before the coming of Clean Air Acts and the general frowning upon and legislation against the cigarette, that essential prop of the spinner of tales of stylish mayhem. The classic crime novel reeks of tobacco smoke, is touched with the wistful fragrance of sooty rain on shiny pavements and coughs its lungs out in peasouper fogs.”
  For the rest, clickety-click here

Friday, July 14, 2017

Re-Issue: BOGMAIL by Patrick McGinley

I love the cover of Apollo’s re-issue of Patrick McGinley’s BOGMAIL, which is rather funky in and of itself, but also carries a quote from yours truly to the effect that BOGMAIL is ‘dark, twisted and blackly hilarious’ – which it is, although I would further add that BOGMAIL is a quietly absurdist masterpiece and a worthy heir to Flann O’Brien’s THE THIRD POLICEMAN. Anyway, herewith be the blurb elves:
A truly funny and stunningly well-told tale of murder in a small Irish village in Donegal, Bogmail is a classic of modern Irish literature.
  Set in a remote village, the action begins with a murder when Roarty, a publican and former priest, kills his bartender then buries his body in a bog. It's not long before Roarty starts getting blackmail letters, and matters quickly spiral out of his control.
  Twisty, turny and enlivened with colour that echoes the landscape and surroundings, Bogmail was Patrick McGinley's first novel, yet it remains just as fresh today as the day it first appeared.
  For a review of (New Island’s re-issue of) BOGMAIL, clickety-click here

Thursday, July 13, 2017


There’s a crime fiction ‘do’ taking place in Dun Laoghaire on July 22nd, when the Pavilion Theatre hosts a number of authors from the Penguin Random House Ireland stable to talk all things murderous and criminal. The event will take place in partnership with the Irish Times, and Irish writers taking part include Benjamin Black (John Banville) and Haylen Beck (Stuart Neville), Karen Perry and Liz Nugent, while Kathy Reichs and Paula Hawkins provide an international flavour. For all the details, including how to book tickets, clickety-click here

Publication: AFTER SHE VANISHED by S.A. Dunphy

S.A. Dunphy publishes his debut thriller AFTER SHE VANISHED (Hachette Ireland) today, a first foray into fiction by the successful non-fiction author Shane Dunphy. Quoth the blurb elves:
Eighteen years ago David Dunnigan took his beloved six-year-old niece Beth on a shopping trip. They stopped on a crowded street to hear some buskers. She took her hand from his for a split second. And when he turned around, she was gone.
  Now Dunnigan, his life shattered, is a criminology lecturer and also works as a consultant for the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation in Harcourt Street, specialising in cases involving missing persons. That’s how he crosses paths with Harry, a young boy living on the streets whose parents have disappeared.
  As Dunnigan finds himself drawn into the world of The Warrens, a transient place where the dark underbelly of society lives, will he be able to help Harry? And what of Beth will he find there?
  For an interview with S.A. Dunphy on TV3, clickety-click here

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Podcast: Two Writers and a Microphone

The ‘Two Writers and a Microphone’ podcast goes from strength to strength, with Steve Cavanagh and Luca Veste luring Norn Iron’s Gerard Brennan into their studio lair this week to talk about – among other things – THE MALTESE FALCON and THE FRIENDS OF EDDIE COYLE. Hey, why talk about other books when you can talk about the best, right?
  This week’s offering is the 38th episode in the ‘Two Writers and a Microphone’ saga. For a list of, and links to, all 38 episodes, clickety-click here

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Event: Irish Crime Writing at Boyle Arts Festival

I’m hugely looking forward to taking part in the Irish crime writing panel at the Boyle Arts Festival on July 22nd – they’re a fabulous bunch in Boyle, and looked after yours truly very well the last time I was there. Andrea Carter will be moderating a panel composed of Arlene Hunt, Louise Phillips and your humble correspondent, with the event taking place at 5pm on July 22nd at the Family Resource Centre, Boyle. If you’re in the vicinity – and where else would you want to be on a summer’s evening? – drop on by and say hello. For all the details, clickety-click here

Friday, July 7, 2017

Short Story: ‘Tell Me Something About Your Wife’ by Karen Perry

Karen Perry – aka Karen Gillece and Paul Perry – had a short story published in the Irish Times this week, titled – ominously – ‘Tell Me Something About Your Wife’. You’ll find it here
  Meanwhile, the fourth Karen Perry psychological thriller, CAN YOU KEEP A SECRET? (Penguin), will be published next month. 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.
  CAN YOU KEEP A SECRET? will be published on August 26th. Karen Perry will be taking part in the ‘Dead in Dun Laoghaire’ crime fiction event on July 22nd. For a review of ONLY WE KNOW, clickety click here

Thursday, July 6, 2017

One to Watch: RAIN FALLS ON EVERYONE by Clár Ní Chonghaile

Clár Ní Chonghaile follows up her debut novel, FRACTURED, with the Dublin-set RAIN FALLS ON EVERYONE (Legend Press). Quoth the blurb elves:
Theo, a young Rwandan boy fleeing his country’s genocide, arrives in Dublin, penniless, alone and afraid. Still haunted by a traumatic memory in which his father committed a murderous act of violence, he struggles to find his place in the foreign city.
  Plagued by his past, Theo is gradually drawn deeper into the world of Dublin’s feared criminal gangs. But a chance encounter in a restaurant with Deirdre offers him a lifeline.
  Theo and Deirdre’s tender friendship is however soon threatened by tragedy. Can they confront their addictions to carve a future out of the catastrophe that engulfs both their lives?
  RAIN FALLS ON EVERYONE will be published on July 15th. For a review of FRACTURED, clickety-click here

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Launch: Haylen Beck at No Alibis

Stuart Neville launches the debut title for his pseudonym Haylen Beck, HERE AND GONE (Harvill Secker), at Belfast’s No Alibis at 7pm on Thursday, July 6th. Quoth the blurb elves:
Audra has finally left her abusive husband. She’s taken the family car and her young children, Sean and Louise, are buckled up in the back. This is their chance for a fresh start.
  Audra keeps to the country roads to avoid attention. She’s looking for a safe place to stay for the night when she spots something in her rear-view mirror. A police car is following her and the lights are flickering. Blue and red.
  As Audra pulls over she is intensely aware of how isolated they are. Her perfect escape is about to turn into a nightmare beyond her imagining …
  I read HERE AND GONE last month, and it’s the proverbial white-knuckle ride, a stripped-back thriller that delivers a hefty emotional wallop. But don’t take my word for it: Harlan Coben reckons that, “Packed with smart twists and unforgettable characters, HERE AND GONE is one of the best debuts of the year.”

Monday, July 3, 2017

The Top 10 Northern Irish Crime Novels: Brian McGilloway

Brian McGilloway (right) recently wrote a piece for the Strand Magazine on the Top 10 Northern Irish crime novels, and a very fine list it is too, despite the surprising absence of Eoin McNamee. In his Intro, Brian provides a context for why Northern Irish crime fiction has flourished over the last decade or so:
“I think it is also why Northern Irish crime fiction only really found its voice after the violence here subsided: there’s no need to vicariously experience fear when you are actually undergoing it. When I wrote Borderlands in 2003, I deliberately set out to write a novel unrelated to the Troubles. But, in the writing of it, I found the events of the previous thirty years remained a constant shadow, bleeding around the edges of every narrative. The same could be argued for many of the other crime writers here. In the absence of a Truth Commission in Northern Ireland, fiction is the closest we will come to an understanding of the past even as we chart our way forward. And crime fiction, more than any other genre, works in that dual movement—a crime novel starts at the end of the victim’s story and, while the narrative has continual forward momentum, the detectives are generally working backwards from the moment of the crime to trace the initial acts and motives that lead to it.”
  For Brian McGilloway’s Top 10 Northern Irish Crime Novels, clickety-click here

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Event: ‘Killing for a Living: Irish Crime Writers’

Sam Blake (right) will host an Irish crime writing event at the London Irish Centre later this month, interviewing Julie Parsons and Sheila Bugler on ‘the Art of Murder.’ To wit:
DATE: JULY 23, 2017
DOORS: 15:30
  For all the details, including how to book tickets, clickety-click here