“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.

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:
KILLING FOR A LIVING: IRISH CRIME WRITERS
DATE: JULY 23, 2017
DOORS: 15:30
VENUE: LONDON IRISH CENTRE
PRICE: £8
  For all the details, including how to book tickets, clickety-click here

Friday, June 30, 2017

‘Not Everyone Murders People in Their Sleep’: Liz Nugent

Liz Nugent (right) had a piece in the Irish Times this week, titled ‘Not Everyone Murders People in Their Sleep’, during which she touched on ‘the rise of Irish female crime writers’:
“I am often asked about the rise of Irish female crime writers in recent years. Maybe Tana French and Alex Barclay opened the doors for the rest of us, and as writer Jane Casey says, women are more attuned to threat. We are the ones looking over our shoulders, making sure that we have our keys in our hands, texting each other to make sure we got home safely.”
  I’d add Arlene Hunt and the doyenne of Irish crime fiction, Julie Parsons, to that list of trailblazers, and further suggest that Maeve Binchy probably had a lot to do with normalising the idea that being an Irish writer didn’t necessarily involve wanting to emulate the Joyces and Becketts of the canon.
  As to why women writers have come to the fore in recent years – we can add Sinead Crowley, Louise Phillips, Annemarie Neary and Andrea Carter to the names above – it may have something to do with the way crime fiction has moved on from the classical fantasy of the lone hero(ine) – Holmes, Poirot, Marple, Marlowe – taking on and defeating bad guys, and instead adopting a more realistic approach to the age-old human fear of the social and personal threat that crime represents.
  Whatever the reason, Liz Nugent is certainly in the vanguard, domestically and internationally, and her next novel, SKIN DEEP (Penguin Ireland), is already hotly anticipated. Quoth the blurb elves:
'Once I had cleared the bottles away and washed the blood off the floor, I needed to get out of the flat.'
 Delphine Hamilton is a fake. She has been living on the Côte d'Azur for ten years, posing as an English heiress. However, her alimony is running out, her looks are fading, and her wealthy lovers are fewer and further between.
 Down to her last euros, and desperate to get out of her apartment, Delphine decides to spend the day at the Negresco where she is caught stealing another guest's meal. He takes pity on her and invites her to a party.
 The guests are young and beautiful and Delphine feels her age, and is achingly conscious of her worn out dress. But after a few lines of cocaine and multiple cocktails, she is oblivious to everything.
 Hours later, as dawn is breaking, she wakes up on the floor of a deserted hotel penthouse. She makes her way home through the back streets.
Even before she opens the door she can hear the flies buzzing and she realizes that the corpse in her bedroom has already begun to decompose ...
  SKIN DEEP will be published in March 2018.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Review: THE CITY OF LIES by Michael Russell

Opening in 1940, The City of Lies (Constable) is Michael Russell’s fourth novel to feature Dublin-based Special Branch detective Stefan Gillespie, whose mixed Irish-German heritage has proved useful to his superiors on previous occasions. Investigating a suspected murder-arson in West Wicklow, Stefan stumbles across what appears to be a German radio. Soon he is on his way to Berlin as a courier carrying crucial information to the Irish ambassador, there to encounter Francis Stuart and Frank Ryan, among others. Meanwhile, in 1939, Hauptmann Johannes Rilling records the atrocities being committed by German troops as they blitzkrieg through Poland, a series of mass murders of civilians on a scale previously unimaginable to a Wehrmacht officer. Blending historical events and personages into his fiction, Russell creates a vividly detailed tale which investigates the coming horrors of the Holocaust (“Blood spoke to blood; when it did there were no questions.”) and explores a Berlin drunk on power and triumph, but already experiencing the increasingly bizarre collective psychosis of a city built on lies. With the charmingly frank and diffident Stefan Gillespie as our guide, The City of Lies, by turns harrowing, tender and hopeful, is Michael Russell’s most accomplished novel to date. ~ Declan Burke

  This review was first published in the Irish Times’ crime fiction column for June.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

One to Watch: SLEEPING BEAUTIES by Jo Spain

SLEEPING BEAUTIES (Quercus) is the third in Jo Spain’s acclaimed series featuring DI Tom Reynolds, following on from WITH OUR BLESSING and BENEATH THE SURFACE. Quoth the blurb elves:
The inspector frowned and examined the earth under the trees. As he scanned the glade, his stomach lurched. One, two, three, four. Five, counting the mound of earth disturbed under the tent. Somebody had cleared the earth of its natural layer and sown their own flowers.
  In five places.
  Five graves.

  A young woman, Fiona Holland, has gone missing from a small Irish village. A search is mounted, but there are whispers. Fiona had a wild reputation. Was she abducted, or has she run away?
  A week later, a gruesome discovery is made in the woods at Ireland’s most scenic beauty spot - the valley of Glendalough. The bodies are all young women who disappeared in recent years. D.I. Tom Reynolds and his team are faced with the toughest case of their careers - a serial killer, who hunts vulnerable women, and holds his victims captive before he ends their lives.
  Soon the race is on to find Fiona Holland before it’s too late.
  SLEEPING BEAUTIES will be published on September 21st. For more on Jo Spain, clickety-click here

Monday, June 26, 2017

One to Watch: THE STOLEN GIRLS by Patricia Gibney

Patricia Gibney published her debut novel, THE MISSING ONES, on March 16th, but she’s obviously not a woman to rest on her laurels. The second offering in the Detective Lottie Parker series, THE STOLEN GIRLS (Bookouture), will be published on July 6th (e-book only). Quoth the blurb elves:
The young woman standing on Lottie’s step was a stranger. She was clutching the hand of a young boy. ‘Help me,’ she said to Lottie. ‘Please help me.’
  One Monday morning, the body of a young pregnant woman is found. The same day, a mother and her son visit the house of Detective Lottie Parker, begging for help to find a lost friend.
  Could this be the same girl?
  When a second victim is discovered by the same man, with the murder bearing all the same hallmarks as the first, Lottie needs to work fast to discover how else the two were linked. Then two more girls go missing.
  Detective Lottie Parker is a woman on the edge, haunted by her tragic past and struggling to keep her family together through difficult times. Can she fight her own demons and catch the killer before he claims another victim?
  For more on Patricia Gibney, clickety-click here

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Publication: THE CARDINAL’S COURT by Cora Harrison

Cora Harrison is one of the unsung heroes (heroines) of Irish crime fiction, and one of its most prolific authors too. THE CARDINAL’S COURT (The History Press), the first in a new series to feature lawyer Hugh Mac Egan, didn’t make my radar when it was published in April, but it sounds a terrific prospect. Quoth the blurb elves:
‘To shoot a man on the spur of the moment in the presence of the king and his court, not to mention the cardinal and his household, that took a boldness … Or utter despair.’
  HAMPTON COURT, 1522. Lawyer Hugh Mac Egan has arrived from Ireland to draw up the marriage contract between James Butler, son of his employer the Earl of Ormond, and Anne Boleyn – a dynastic alliance that will resolve an age-old inheritance dispute. But Anne, it seems, has other ideas. Her heart is set on Harry Percy, heir to the magnificent earldom of Northumberland, sparking rivalry between the two young men.
  When a member of Cardinal Wolsey’s palace staff is found shot dead with an arrow, Percy is quick to give evidence that implicates Butler. And with Percy’s testimony backed up by Butler’s artful bride-to-be, things start to look bleak for the young Irishman. In Tudor England, the accused is guilty until proven innocent.
  Against the backdrop of the Lenten festivities, Mac Egan sets out to exonerate his patron’s heir and find the real killer, uncovering as he does so the many factions and intrigues that lie beneath the surface at the cardinal’s court.
  For more on Cora Harrison, clickety-click here