Wednesday 27 May 2009

Upcoming No Alibis Event




ph. 02890-319601
fax. 02890319607

Sunday 24 May 2009

Savouring Chandler

A couple of weeks ago I shocked the blogosphere by admitting a huge deficit in my crime fiction reading. Well, maybe not the blogosphere. More like five people, I'd estimate, but I'm a fan of hyperbole.

Anyway, Penguin's imprint, Hamish Hamilton, stepped in to help me out by sending five GORGEOUS Raymond Chandler books. I'm halfway through the Big Sleep right now and feel compelled to blog a little about a line or three I read today.

"... but a pansy has no iron in his bones, whatever he looks like."

"He was like Caesar, a husband to women and a wife to men."

"Go -- yourself."

It struck me as an interesting sign of the times. Chandler didn't drop the F-bomb in The Big Sleep, yet he had no problem with Marlowe's sweeping statements about pansies and using another deeply offensive and homophobic F-word. And it made me wonder, fifty years from now, what will readers of the future classics (I'm thinking Bruen, McKinty, Bateman, McGilloway and all my favourites) pick out as bizarre and dated?

Friday 22 May 2009

Newsflash! Movie Bruen... Once Were Cops

I read and loved Once Were Cops by Ken Bruen. You can read my thoughts on the deliciously dark novel in my CSNI review. So, it makes me smile on this pleasant Friday afternoon to relay some interesting news. It looks like it'll be the next Ken Bruen novel to receive the Hollywood treatment.

Who'd you like to see as the cop protagonists? I'm punting for Colin Farrell as Shea and Brendan Gleeson as Kebar. Bring back the In Bruges duo, I say!

An Interview - Rob Kitchin

Rob Kitchin: The day job is running a research institute. I spend most of my time either in meetings or writing funding applications, academic papers or books. After a few false starts, The Rule Book, my first novel, was published on May 16th. Hopefully in time it’ll open up a new horizon and I can at least give up the meetings.

My one and only review to date is by Joe Duffy from RTE who stated: "One of the most unusual crime novels to come out of Ireland in recent times. A gripping thriller with characters that ring true coupled with images and acts that would leave even Hannibal Lecter silent! There are more twists than the red cow roundabout, but you will not lose the plot in this clever and unusual crime novel." Perhaps a few more of those and the horizon might start to transform.

Q1. What are you writing at the minute?

On the novel front I’m writing the third book in McEvoy series. The working title is ‘In the Bog’ and it has Det. Supt. McEvoy trying to solve the murders of two women, killed forty years apart, both discovered within days of each other in Leitrim bog. I’m about halfway through at present. On the academic front, I’m trying to finish off a book on the embedding of software in everyday life, plus a couple of reports.

Q2. Can you give us an idea of Rob Kitchin’s typical up-to-the-armpits-in-ideas-and-time writing day?

I spent a fair few hours writing every day, whether its dozens of emails or reports, papers or chapters. Any novel writing is reserved for the evening and weekends. I haven’t done anywhere near as much as I would have liked to in recent weeks. Ideas are never a problem, time is! Thankfully I don’t suffer from writer’s block, mainly I think, because I’m conditioned to grind out a couple of thousand words a day doing the day job. I suspect journalists are similarly disciplined which is why so many successfully transfer to novel writing.

Q3. What do you do when you’re not writing?

Read, walk the dogs, and slouch in front of the television killing time that could be spent more productively doing other things.

Q4. Any advice for a greenhorn trying to break into the crime fiction scene?

I am a greenhorn trying to break into crime fiction and I’m still fairly clueless at this stage. The only thing I can advise is keep plugging away and hope for the best.

Q5. Which crime writers have impressed you this year?

So far I’ve mostly been reading books by writers who I’ve read previously, filling in back catalogues – Alan Furst, Joe Lansdale, James Lee Burke, Peter Temple, Michael Connelly, Arnaldur Indridason, John Harvey, Graham Hurley, Philip Kerr – mainly because they made an impression with other books. I particularly enjoyed the latest Kerr novel, ‘A Quiet Flame’ – the whole Bernie Gunther series has been excellent. I think the only thing I’ve bought that has been published in 2009 is Gene Kerrigan’s ‘Dark Times in the City’ which is next on my to read pile. The plan is to spend the second half the year discovering new stuff. I’m always after a good recommendation.

Q6. What are you reading right now?

On the novel front I’m a few pages into Tana French’s ‘In the Woods’. On the non-fiction front, I’m halfway through ‘The Algeria Hotel: France, Memory and the Second World War’ by Adam Nossiter that examines how the French have dealt with the Vichy period and the complicity of that government in the holocaust.

Q7. Plans for the future?

To keep plugging away! I’ve the second book in the series complete and a couple of other drafts mostly in good shape. Hopefully they will translate into an alternative career of sorts in time. I’ve no ambitions to give up the day job but it would be nice to have options!

Q8. With regards to your writing career to date, would you do anything differently?

I’d have been much more proactive in seeking an agent/publisher for the various drafts I have rather than being discouraged after two or three form rejection letters. The process of getting academic and fiction writing published is completely different and I made the mistake of partially conflating the two.

Q9. Do you fancy sharing your worst writing experience?

A lot of my academic writing is co-written. I’ve written pieces with over 40 people at this stage and occasionally that can get a bit fraught, especially if people don’t do what they said or we can’t agree on an argument. I’ve never come to blows with anyone, but let’s just say there are a couple of them I’d be very reluctant to write with again!

Q10. Anything you want to say that I haven’t asked you about?

No, I don’t think so, other than to thank you for the opportunity to do this.

Thank you, Rob Kitchin!

Thursday 21 May 2009

Stuart Neville Reviews Blood's a Rover by James Ellroy

James Ellroy finally brings us the conclusion to the American Underworld Trilogy, and his most personal novel since his 1987 breakout, THE BLACK DAHLIA. BLOOD'S A ROVER fulfils yet confounds every expectation.

The book takes its name from a line in the A.E. Housman poem, 'Reveille'. The imagery of the title implies the pervasive violence of Ellroy's world, but the wider theme of Housman's poem -- the brevity of life, and the imperative to live it well -- gives a better clue to the soul of the novel.

After a bloody prologue, the story-proper begins in 1968 by introducing Ellroy's triad of protagonists. Cop-turned-narco-chemist Wayne Tedrow Junior is back, older and more battle-hardened than when we last saw him in THE COLD SIX THOUSAND. FBI heavyweight Dwight Holly is promoted to centre stage as he works for and against a fading J. Edgar Hoover. New face Donald 'Crutch' Crutchfield, a young would-be private investigator, stumbles into the murk of Ellroy's American nightmare. We also have the all-star cast of historical figures that is a signature of the trilogy. There's Hoover in physical and mental decline, Howard Hughes at rock bottom, Richard Nixon on the ascendant, and any number of political and showbiz players of the time.

The plot is a classic Ellroy labyrinth: the Mob attempts to create a new Havana in the Dominican Republic; Hoover sets out to bring down the Black Power movement; a body in an abandoned house is connected to Haiti by a trail of hijacked emeralds. These seemingly disparate stories intertwine to form a dense, propulsive narrative that has one constant: Joan Klein, political agitator and object of obsession for all three protagonists.

So far, so Ellroy, you might think. Yes, all the Ellroy trademarks are present and accounted for. Dirty cops, dirtier politicians, brutal violence, booze, drugs, guns, it's all there. But what surprises the reader is that Ellroy takes everything we expect from him and turns it on its head. At first he comforts us with familiar structures and stylistic tics, then in one shocking revelation after another we realise nothing in this story can be taken on face value, not even the narrative itself. When he takes our expectations and uses them against us, it is the work of a master.

And here's the biggest revelation of all: forget everything you think you know about James Ellroy's politics. Those ugly facets of the macho persona he writes so well -- the racism, misogyny and homophobia -- might well have led you to believe Ellroy is so right-wing he makes George W. Bush look like a pinko. But if a novel can give an insight into a writer's true nature, then BLOOD'S A ROVER belies the author's carefully cultivated public image. Ellroy mercilessly examines the cost of fascism to society, and the terrible price the men who misuse power must pay for their crimes. That's not to say Ellroy has gone red on us; the far left is treated with equal disdain as his fictional ideologues prove to be as misguided and self-serving as their real-world counterparts. Taking in the overall arc of the trilogy, the true message becomes clear: those who abuse power to serve their own political and personal agendas will suffer for their sins, whether they lean to the left or the right.

The ferocious polemic of BLOOD'S A ROVER wouldn't have a fraction of its impact if not balanced by its surprising humanity. The character Don 'Crutch' Crutchfield is ostensibly based on a real-life private eye, but the depiction on the page is closer to Ellroy's own confessions of a misspent youth. Crutch is a voyeur who spies on women, tails them, and breaks into their homes. His private eye gig provides a means to scratch this itch. Ellroy has spoken openly about his early days and the unsavoury pastimes he indulged in. Crutch becomes an avatar for the author's younger self, revealing more of Ellroy than any fiction he's written since he confronted his own mother's brutal murder in THE BLACK DAHLIA.

The female characters in BLOOD'S A ROVER stand in contrast to those who populated his earlier works. They are more than objects of desire; they are not there simply to frustrate, entrap and betray the male protagonists. Their roles in the story carry more weight than we have ever seen from Ellroy in the past, particularly the Red Goddess Joan.

The meaning of Housman's poem, that man must not waste his life, begins to resonate as the protagonists strive for atonement against desperate odds. This emotional maturity gives BLOOD'S A ROVER a beating heart that arguably no other novel in James Ellroy's oeuvre has had before. And that heart is what makes it all so visceral, beautiful and horrific. BLOOD'S A ROVER is everything and nothing you wanted it to be, and the trilogy as a whole must be considered a landmark in American literature.

any thanks to Stuart Neville [picture above, right] for the CSNI contribution -- gb)

Wednesday 20 May 2009

Blogspot Payback - Internet Noir

Although David Torrans came up with the title for this post, I don't think he'll mind me using it. You see, I'm writing to inform you that David has put his collection of first editions on the shelves at No Alibis. And what a collection! I knew this day was coming, but I decided to keep a lid on it until I could get to the shop and get my pick of the bunch. I found three books and paid a ridiculously low price... on the understanding that David would receive "Blogspot Payback." It's a nice little phrase, innit? Anyway, if you can, get thee to No Alibis! There's a tonne of great books just waiting to be snaffled.

So, what did I take home yesterday?

The Killing of the Tinkers by Ken Bruen (US signed first edition)

Dispatching Baudelaire by Ken Bruen (UK and Ireland first edition)

The Sad Case of Harpo Higgins by Eugene McEldowney (UK and Ireland first edition)

Oh, and I picked up one Peter Rozovsky at No Alibis as well. Removed him from the premises before the temptation of a smash and grab took hold of him. Calmed him with a trip to Dundrum Castle and some Chinese food. Not a bad day, it has to be said.

Monday 18 May 2009

War of the Blue Roses - Coming Soon!

Since reading Yours Confidentially last year, I've been eagerly anticipating the next Garbhan Downey novel. Well, I'm currently reading an ARC of War of the Blue Roses. I'm on chapter 5 at the minute, and this could well be his finest work to date.

While I work my way through the book and procrastinate for the required amount of time before reviewing it, why don't you guys feast your eyes on this fantastic John McCloskey cover? McCloskey, besides being a double Celtic Film Festival gold torc-winner for animation is also the former guitarist with Derry punk legends Bam Bam and the Calling. And when you're done gawking at that, have a read through the Guildhall Press press release.


‘War of the Blue Roses’

by Garbhan Downey

Who knew this flower-growing business could be so dangerous?

Guildhall Press are delighted to announce the release next month of ‘War of the Blue Roses’, the riotous new novel from Garbhan Downey.

‘War of the Blue Roses’ – the much-anticipated sequel to Downey’s widely-acclaimed comedy-thriller ‘Running Mates’ (2007) – is a rollicking black comedy set in the world of international politics.

In the book, a US sponsored gardening competition in the little country village of Mountrose ends up throwing three governments into turmoil when it sparks a worldwide race to grow the world’s first blue rose. The Irish premier is forced to team up with semi-reformed gangsters to stop British and American politicians shanghaiing the Mountrose Prize and walking off with a billion-dollar patent. Bugging, burglary, sabotage, murder and sexual deceit – it’s all part of the rose-growing business. And the bad guys are even worse…

‘Roses’ is Downey’s fifth novel and is set to enhance his reputation as a top-class writer. His last book, ‘Yours Confidentially: Letters of a would-be MP’, was listed by a number of reviewers on their ‘Book of the Year’ lists – and was one of the Philadelphia Inquirer’s seven International Crime Fiction ‘must-reads’ of 2008. Downey’s debut novel, ‘Private Diary of a Suspended MLA’, was described in the Sunday Times as “the best Northern Ireland political novel of the century”.

The cover of ‘Roses’ is designed by the award-winning animator John McCloskey, whose film ‘Crumblegiant’ was nominated for a BAFTA in 2008.

For further information about the author and details of his books, please visit: or

Tuesday 12 May 2009

You Couldn't Beat This for a Deal

From now through May 26th, St. Martin's Press is doing a special promotion where you can download the entire .pdf electronic advance edition of Jason Starr's new thriller PANIC ATTACK for free! If you've never read a Jason Starr novel, here's your chance. If you're already a fan, you can read a few chapters to get a taste of it, or help get the buzz going and read the entire novel Michael Connelly has called "the ultimate page turner." Yes, you can send the .pdf to your Kindle or other e-reader that is .pdf compatible. Note: The text is the advance edition that reviewers receive and there will be minor edits for the finished book.

All we ask is that you help out and mention this promotion on your blogs, Twitters, MySpace and Facebook pages etc. Also, we'd love it if you could review or mention the book online on your blog, or review it on bookstore sites such as and Even a review on a message board helps. And remember, Panic Attack is on-sale in bookstores everywhere on August 4, 2009.

We hope you enjoy PANIC ATTACK!

The link for the free download is: (click on free e-galley or the advertisement)

Monday 11 May 2009

An Interview - James E Cherry

James E Cherry is the author of Shadow of Light, a novel from Serpents Tail Press. He resides in the USA where he serves as Artist in Residence at a high school for troubled youth. His collection of poetry, Honoring the Ancestors (Third World Press) was nominated for a 2009 NAACP Image Award.

Q1. What are you writing at the minute?

I’m putting the finishing touches on a collection of short fiction tentatively titled, Ghosts of Salvation. Its 15 stories, half of them crime in nature but all of them dealing with lost and longing in some form or fashion

Q2. Can you give us an idea of James E Cherry’s typical up-to-the-armpits-in-ideas-and-time writing day?

Man, I’ve got more ideas than time. Because I’m trying to express myself in two different genres, I usually find myself writing something at some point during the day. I’m also in the process of compiling another collection of poetry that hopefully will find its way into print by the Fall of next year. And I’m beginning to put flesh on a skeleton of a novel idea that should keep me busy as well. I cant see the light at the end of the tunnel for that project. But I know I’m headed in the right direction. And hell, there’s a non-fiction project I would like to get started on as well . . . but like I said . . . more ideas than time.

Q3. What do you do when you’re not writing?

Read. I read everything I can get my hands on. Reading and writing are both part of the same creative process. I’m a big jazz enthusiast. The improvisation of that art form has a big influence on my writing. Often times when I write, whether poetry or fiction, its to the cadences of Bird, Monk, Diz and Trane. Guess I’m a bebopper with words.

Q4. Any advice for a greenhorn trying to break into the crime fiction scene?

My advice would be to study the classics. Not just the classics of crime fiction. But the classics of fiction in general. Take the best literary devices and techniques from the masters at your disposal and apply them to your original ideas. And from there hone your craft, which involves paying some dues (rejections.) Just make sure that your writing is as tight as possible before you submit and if crime fiction is what you want to do, your breakthrough will come.

Q5. Which crime writers have impressed you this year?

I keep returning to the usual suspects: Mosley, Pelacanos, Maggie Estep, Jake Lamar. But I’m old school. So I like Edgar Alan Poe, Raymond Chandler, Mickey Spillane and I always read a little or a lot of Chester B Himes whenever I get the chance.

Q6. What are you reading right now?

Right now its Ann Patchett’s Bel Canto, based on a real life hostage situation in South America featuring an opera singer. The book was the winner of the 2001 Orange Prize.

Q7. Plans for the future?

Man, I need to get out and see more of the world. Travel has a way of making you a better writer and a better human being. The people, culture, the food. I’m looking to hop a plane with hopefully a stop in the U.K. My bags are already packed.

Q8. With regards to your writing career to date, would you do anything differently?

Honestly, I don’t think I would. Just as in my life, I’ve made mistakes that I wouldn’t take back because they were instrumental in who I have become today and I believe the experience from those mistakes has made me a better person. Serpents Tail came along at the right time in my development as a fiction writer and they saw something in my writing that other publishers failed to see. And that goes back to my earlier comments: its incumbent upon the writer to study his craft, hone his skills, write as much as possible and send the work out. When and how the work will be published is often times beyond our control. We simply must have a body of work ready when the opportunity presents itself.

Q9. Do you fancy sharing your worst writing experience?

Except for a couple journals wanting me to surrender my copyright to my own short story (don’t ever do that. Pull the story and find somewhere else to submit) I have no major complaints. I have a chapbook of poems, Bending the Blues, a full collection of poems and a novel in print and more is forthcoming. For more details about my work visit: So, thus far it's all been good.

Q10. Anything you want to say that I haven’t asked you about?

Gerard, man I really want to thank you for this opportunity. Crime Scene NI is an invaluable tool for those who love to read and write crime fiction and hopefully your readership will pick up a copy of Shadow of Light. I’ll see you when the plane touches down at Heathrow.

Thank you, James E Cherry!

Thursday 7 May 2009

Dial 64888 for MYSTERY

Edit 18/11/11 -- This number no longer works as described below. Apparently the number has now been hi-jacked for scam purposes. Thanks to the anonymous commenter who brought it to my attention.

Heard it through the grapevine that you can get chapter one of Mystery Man sent to your mobile by texting MYSTERY to 64888. I tried it out myself and it's kosher. Why not have a wee go yourself? Kind of funky to have one of the funniest opening chapters in Northern Irish crime fiction stored on your phone.

I assume this only works if you have a UK mobile phone.

Edit -- Skip over to Declan Burke's Crime Always Pays for a number that works in the Republic of Ireland.

Tuesday 5 May 2009

To The Customer, The Spoils

Fecking great day of shopping at No Alibis. I got:

Dark Times in the City by Gene Kerrigan
Little Girl Lost by Richard Aleas
361 by Donald E Westlake
The Crossmaglen Dispatch by Paddy O'Hanlon
All The dead Voices by Declan Hughes

David also had the Serpent's Tail release of Fifty Grand in his shop. The blurb names Mercado as Hernandez, but I'm sure that'll be corrected in the final version. The publicity sheet thingy uses the right name. It also brings word that the repackaged Dead/Michael Forsythe Trilogy will be available on 16th July 2009 along with Fifty Grand. If you haven't got these books, buy 'em all.

Monday 4 May 2009

Poussière Tu Seras

I'm don't speak a lot of French... well, not any. But if you do, you might be interested in this. Sam Millar's French translation of The Darkness of Bones is due out next week. And here's the snazzy cover. C'est fantastique, or something. Click on the image to get a proper look.