Wednesday 30 September 2009

A Wee Review – Filthy Rich by Brian Azzarello and Victor Santos

Filthy Rich is the first graphic novel to come from the newly launched Vertigo Crime imprint at DC Comics. It follows the classic American noir formula -- a tough guy, down on his luck, meets his femme fatale and much murder and mayhem ensues.

On a first impression basis, the production value of this graphic novel is top class. Presented in a beautiful hardback edition with powerful cover art and black and white interior art, it was already off to a running start before I began reading. It looks to be the standard format for the series, and I look forward to filling a shelf on my bookcase with these lovely tomes.

How’d the inside fare, though? Well, I found Azzarello’s writing style a perfect match for the story’s tone. Terse and fast-paced, it put me in mind of Ken Bruen’s work. I could imagine Azzarello rattling out his words while he battled a hangover in a dark room that smelt of coffee and stale cigarette smoke. Now, for all I know, Mister Azzarello is a fine example of clean living, but the voice seemed to belong to a writer entrenched in vice. Although it takes a little while to build up to the real nitty-gritty in terms of violence, there’s always the threat of it present in the protagonist’s bearing. And as protagonists go, Rich ‘Junk’ Junkin is up there with the best of anti-heroes. His motivations? Sex and money, probably in that order. And when you learn a little about the women pulling his strings in this story, you might find you can sympathise with him.

The artwork also suited the mood. Stark black and white that assaulted the eye from each panel. There was a scruffy, dreamlike quality to a lot of the pages, and Santos is great at portraying the ugliness and frenzy of violence in his illustrations. My only criticism is that the lack of softer shading wasn’t always easy on my vision, and I wonder if the smaller page format contributed to my discomfort. But all in all, the match between writer and artist was one made in heaven.

I’d urge crime fiction fans to keep a close watch on the Vertigo Crime series. The next graphic novel on my reading list is Dark Entries by Ian Rankin and Werther Dell’Edera, and on an initial sneak-peak, the quality is as high as that of the debut offering. And with heavy-hitter Jason Starr up next with The Chill (art by Mick Bertilorenzi) I wouldn’t anticipate a dip in grit and fire.

Filthy Rich is a prime example of how noir should be done. It’ll slap the smirk off your face and leave you guiltily grateful for the tough love dealt. You want unapologetic and bleak? You’ve found it.

Tuesday 29 September 2009

Get Your (Comic Book) Geek On...

Feast your eyes on the tasty loot I managed to get my grubby mitts on this week:

Beautiful new graphic novels. Two hardbacks and an advance review copy. The first three titles from the new DC Comics imprint, Vertigo Crime. Not suitable for kids or adults of a sensitive disposition. Perfect for a little Mick crime junky like me. Especially since Jason Starr's offering is steeped in Irish mythology.

I've already devoured Filthy Rich. Pure American noir. More on that in a day or two.

Monday 28 September 2009

No Alibis Event - Patrick Marrinan

Patrick Marrinan

Wednesday 30th September at 6:00PM

No Alibis Bookstore and the Directors of Robert Hale Ltd request the pleasure of your company at a book launch to celebrate the publication of SCAPEGOAT by Patrick Marrinan on Wednesday 30th September at 6:00PM.

Patrick Marrinan is amongst Ireland's top Senior Counsel and he defended many notable trials during the height of the Troubles. Since moving to Dublin, he has established himself as one of the country's leading criminal lawyers, working on a variety of high profile murder trials. Scapegoat is his first novel.

"Public outrage at the brutal killing of a young man in the heart of 'pink Dublin' provokes a high profile murder investigation. As the circumstances of the killing unravel, the police suspect they are hunting a homophobic serial killer. When the investigation stalls, Detective Sergeant Pat O'Hara, a police officer with a dubious past, pursues a hunch and adopts unorthodox techniques in tracking down the killer. Mohamed Barouche, a doctor working in a Dublin hospital, emerges as his prime suspect, and he allegedly breaks down under interrogation and confesses. But have the police framed Dr Barouche? Has the lawyer hired to defend him got a hidden agenda? Not until the shocking conclusion of this outstanding crime thriller will all these mysteries be resolved."

To book your spot, email David or call the shop on 028 9031 9607.

ph. 02890-319601
fax. 02890319607

Friday 25 September 2009

Unhappy Endings by Bateman - A Friday Freebie!

I'm delighted to bring you something special for the weekend, dear readers. Colin Bateman is set to read at the Wigtown Book Festival in Scotland tomorrow with Ian Sansom. Ahead of his appearance, he has allowed me to publish the short story that he's written especially for the festival. Sweet, right? So, without further ado, give this never-seen-before Bateman short story a read, and please leave a comment. I mean, seriously, how often are you going to get an opportunity to tell a writer of Bateman's calibre exactly what you think of his work?

Unhappy Endings

I say yes to a lot of things I shouldn’t really say yes to, like the writing of this short story. It’s worth about a grand, but out of that there’s an agent to pay and a few pounds whittled away on research. It’ll appear under a pseudonym, nobody will ever connect me to it; it’s quite liberating, actually, I don’t have to worry about what critics think or my literary reputation and I can just indulge in flights of fancy or get away with murder or generally just please myself. The problem is that there’s always an unhappy ending, and that depresses me. Not at the time, you understand, but later. I just have a thing about writing unhappy endings.

My research isn’t much more than sitting in the pub having a few pints watching and listening, because I’m not really one for learning the intricate details of anything. If there’s brain surgery in my story, I don’t feel the need to talk to a brain surgeon. I look it up on the net, give it a cursory read and then wing it. If you crash landed on a desert island and the pilot had a fractured skull and you had to operate to save his life so that he could, after a substantial period of recovery and perhaps physiotherapy and rehabilitation, together with the frequent consumption of the milk of coconuts, somehow repair the plane and fly you out of there, you wouldn’t want to use my story as a guide to how to drill into his head to relieve the pressure or take out the blood clot, because you’d really mess him up. He’d be slobbering in a wheelchair for the rest of his life, pointing the finger of blame at me, though of course he wouldn’t be able to literally point the finger of blame at me because well, you would have drilled into the area of the brain that controls the finger of blame. On my advice you would also have used the corkscrew you rescued from the premier seats at the front to do the drilling, pausing only to comment sardonically that planes don’t reverse into crashes and they should have the rich seats at the back. Actually using the corkscrew would be pretty damn sore unless you improvised chloroform using a mixture of vodka, egg whites and broccoli. You can’t really improvise chloroform using vodka, egg whites and broccoli. Don’t try it at home, because it’s really difficult to get the right kind of broccoli. You need Spanish broccoli, grown in the foot hills of the Andes. You see, when information is presented in fiction you have a tendency to accept it as fact just because it’s there on the page before you; you presume we’ve done the research. Think about it. The Andes aren’t in Spain, but you just blithely accepted that they were.

This story features a woman who works in a bank. She could work anywhere because it’s not really relevant, but having her work in a bank adds a certain je ne sais quoi given what later develops with the banknotes. I can toss in je ne sais quoi because it’s French everyone understands. I don’t speak French. If I made her a French banker I’d really be screwed because even though the story would be in English, you’d expect her to come out with a couple of French words just to make her character seem kosher. A French Jew, in fact. She’s from Montmartrelle, I might say, which shows that I can look up a map of Paris, and then corrupt not only the specific area but the entire arrondissement just enough to make it appear like it’s really based on Montmartre and I’ve changed it subtly because what I’m writing is too damn close to the truth to allow me to use its real name. What I’m writing must be closer to roman a clef than fiction, which also adds a certain frisson which will be further advanced by the pointless and distracting use of italics. All of which will be entirely irrelevant, because she’s not a French Jewess from Montmartrelle, but a banker from Derby.

The hotel bar is modern with a pale wooden floor. You would think it would stain, but it can be wiped clean with a damp sponge. The ambience is provided by Sky Sports News with the sound high enough to be distracting but low enough not to impart any information, and the screen is just far enough away from where I’m sitting to prevent me from accurately reading the tickertape information at the bottom or the league tables and fixtures at the side. Sky Sports News is thus failing to inform me of anything on several different levels. The situation could be rectified if I simply moved closer, but I’ve become captivated by the Derby woman having a heart to heart with her boyfriend. I never actually see her boyfriend’s face because they’re both hidden by a pillar, and I don’t hear anything he says because he’s quietly spoken, but I hear everything she says because she’s louder, and I’m drawn to her because I was once engaged to a woman who said she came from Derby. I killed that woman because she tried to break it off. When the Jehovah’s Witnesses came to the door shortly afterwards, I still had blood and soil on my hands. They asked to speak to the woman from Derby, with whom they clearly had already established some kind of relationship, or she must have at least hinted at some stage that she might be willing to let them in, which is a dangerous thing to do with Jehovah’s Witnesses, or Mormons, or insurance salesmen, because they’re like multiple dogs with multiple bones, but I told them that I had just murdered her and buried her under the patio. People will accept anything if you present it in the right way. They laughed politely and left, no doubt discussing my unusual sense of humour, and I was able to make a clean getaway, that time, even though I would have been quite intrigued to discover if Jehovah’s Witnesses actually made for good witnesses.

It takes a lot of work to dig up a patio.

It’s useful to have a power point near by.

I catch a glimpse of the guy leaving. When I peer around the pillar and ask her if she’s okay, because she’s sobbing, she says there was no need for him to storm off like that. For the purposes of this story, she is good looking. If she was some big thunder-thighed porpoise, what follows would feel rather sordid, and you would probably allow it to colour your perceptions of me as a person. It is a universal truth that people prefer to read about attractive people making love, because you can understand the animal passions they might arouse in each other. If she had thick ankles and sagging arms and skin like a peppered mackerel, then it would just read as if I was taking advantage of her despair. So for the purposes of this story she is attractive. We are both, in fact, attractive. In fact, I’m gorgeous. Also, it would probably work better if it was set in Montmartrelle, with the bells of the Eiffel Tower peeling softly in the background, but for the purposes of this story the location will remain firmly here, in this dull city. But don’t worry, she is not another one who ends up under the patio. That would be ridiculous. Her room is on the nineteenth floor of this hotel, up where there are no patios.

In retrospect, I will remove the bells from the Eiffel Tower. I could only justify them by creating an alternative history for France in general and the Tower in particular, one in which Napoleon wasn’t defeated at Waterloo etc. etc. and I would have to continue you right up to the modern era and actually make her a French banker, but this is a short story and they’re paying by the word, and it’s really not worth the effort.

I get into her room by telling her the story about the man who won the lottery. It always works. He was an ugly man who very occasionally had ugly girlfriends, which is another universal truth. But when he won the lottery he decided that now he was entitled to enjoy the company of the most beautiful woman in the world. He found her in a hotel just like this one, I say. He watched her all night, and she too had had a row with her boyfriend, and he too had stormed off leaving her without any money of her own, which was ironic, because she worked in a bank.

It wasn’t really ironic, but I was playing my game.

‘I work in a bank too!’ my lady cries.

‘Really? What a coincidence. Anyway, the woman in my ugly lottery man story wanted to stay out and have a good time, but now she was going to have to go back to her room all by her lonely self and cry. Except, this ugly lottery guy sidles up to her and says, you don’t normally talk to guys like me, and you’ll probably slap me in the face, but today I became richer than I ever thought I could be, and I want to do something really special, I want to make love to you. He told her she was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen and that he knew that under normal circumstances she would never look even once at him, but he had seen her being abandoned by her man, and observed her checking her purse for money she did not have, and now he wanted to make her an offer. He told her he had thirty thousand pounds in cash in his jacket and that he would give her all of it in exchange for one hour in bed with her.

Her first instinct, naturally, was to call security, but she hesitated, and she started to think about how awful her boyfriend was to leave her like that, even though she still loved him, and how much thirty thousand was, and how nobody would ever have to know what she’d done for it; she could say that she had won the lottery, and in some ways she had.

And I pause there and take a sip of my drink.

‘Well, did she do it, did she?’

The Derby woman is well and truly sucked in.

I nod.

‘Oh, the little……and did she….did she enjoy it? You know what they say about ugly men. Did she fall in love and….?’

‘She hated it. He did all sorts of despicable things to her, but she didn’t think she could protest. She kept thinking of the money.’

‘And I’ll bet he ran off without paying her!’

‘No. He paid her. Thirty thousand. And an extra five for her tears. But before he handed it over, and when he was still lying on top of her, he said, just one more thing. Kiss me and this time use your tongue.’

She hadn’t used it at all. She was keeping it for her boyfriend. Using her tongue somehow seemed more intimate than any of the unspeakable acts she had so recently partaken of.

I ask the Derby woman if she understands why the woman in my story was so reluctant to use her tongue.

The woman from Derby nods. ‘But did she, in the end? Did she give in and use her tongue?’

‘She did. She did. And he gave her the money, and he left and she never spoke of what had happened, never told a living soul.’

‘Gosh,’ the woman from Derby says.

It is not a word you hear very often these days.


‘What kind of despicable things?’ is her next question.

Despicable is another word you don’t hear very often.

The chances of somebody coming up to you in a courtroom, after the verdict has been handed down, and saying, ‘Gosh, you are despicable,’ must be extremely remote indeed.

I tell her about his despicable acts in considerable detail, and she pretends to be shocked, but it brings colour to her cheeks and there’s a coy look to her as she murmurs, ‘Still, thirty five thousand pounds.’

I smile, and pat my jacket pocket, and her brow furrows, and I raise an eyebrow, and there’s a sudden sparkle in her eyes and for a long, long moment she believes that I have thirty five thousand pounds for her.

She whispers, ‘You’re not ugly at all,’ and she’s right, because as we have already established, for the purposes of this story, I am gorgeous. But then I laugh and tell her that I’m a writer and the story of the lottery winner with the cash for sex offer is from one of my short stories. She looks disappointed. I say, forget the money, I’m still capable of despicable acts. And that gets her laughing, where really, it shouldn’t. She asks me if that’s really how the story ends and I tell her no, that after the lottery winner left the woman went back down to the bar and ordered a bottle of champagne, being thirty five thousand pounds better off, but when she tried to pay for it the bar man held her twenty up to the light and said it was counterfeit, and upon further examination, they all were. She took the thirty thousand pounds out of her bag and threw them on the ground and stamped and tore at them, and just at that point her boyfriend returned, all ready to apologise, but such was her rage that she blurted out what had happened, and he stormed out again, this time for good.

My woman goes, ‘Oh!’ and ‘Oh!’ and that’s just a horrible story.

She’s quite drunk now, and she is relatively easily persuaded to her room. She finds it exciting, at first, the tearing off of the clothes and the fumbling and tumbling, because her boyfriend might return at any moment, but when we make love she seems disappointed that I do not perform despicable deeds upon her, and she urges me to hurry up and finish, which is difficult now that I can sense her regret.

As I lay upon her, I say there was an alternative ending to that story about the lottery winner and the woman of easy but expensive virtue.

And she says, ‘What?’ as in what are you talking about the short story for while you’re supposed to be finishing off.

And I say, she didn’t really go down to the bar and find out she’d been fobbed off with dodgy banknotes. Didn’t you pick up on the fact that if she worked in a bank, she would probably have recognised straight away that the twenties were fake? .

She sighs and says: ‘Well, what then?’

My lips move to her ear and I whisper, ‘The reason she never spoke about it again was that she couldn’t. When she put her tongue in his mouth, he bit it off. She bled to death there beneath him, and he stared at her the whole time she was dying, and she couldn’t move because of the weight of him upon her, and the fact that he was still inside her.’

I think it is unlikely that she will have an orgasm now.

‘What kind of a writer are you anyway?’ she hisses as she tries to get out from under me. ‘Who would come up with a nasty, disgusting sort of a story like that?’

And I tell her that when I was learning how to become a writer, the best piece of advice my tutor ever gave me was to write about what you know.

He was a good creative writing teacher.

He came to our prison every week.

But he always had a problem with my unhappy endings.

An Interview - Alan Glynn

About Alan Glynn...

I live in Dublin, I’m married and have two small boys. My first novel, The Dark Fields, was published in 2002 and is currently being made into a movie by Universal Studios – though I have been saying that for seven years. My second novel, Winterland, is being published in November by Faber and Faber and in February by Minotaur Books in New York.

Q1. What are you writing at the minute?

I’m about halfway through Bloodland which is a sort of lateral sequel to Winterland. What’s a lateral sequel, you ask. I have no idea. I’m not writing a series in the traditional sense, but some characters from Winterland are carried over and the style and structure is very similar. But whereas Winterland was firmly set in Ireland, Bloodland has a more international dimension and deals with aspects of the global resource wars, and commodity supply chains, especially in relation to illegal mining in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

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

I get up very early, 4.30-ish, and work until my two boys get up. When they’ve gone to school, I work until early afternoon, at which point the boys re-appear and take over. That may seem very disciplined and structured, but within it lies a universe of chaos – lots of displacement activity, staring at the wall, toast. It depends on what stage of a book I’m at. The further in, the more intense and productive it gets. The very early stages are the hardest, drawing ideas together into something half-way coherent. It’s like trying to pick mercury up with a fork. It often doesn’t feel like work at all and you can easily end up being convinced that you’re clinically insane.

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

I don’t want to sound pretentious, but when you’re a writer, you’re never not writing, it’s always there – but away from the laptop, no surprise, I like reading and watching that latest version of the sprawling Victorian doorstop, the DVD boxset. I like going for walks, plugged into my iPod. I lived in Italy and picked up a love of cooking, so I do that a lot.

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

Not really. I’ve been at this seriously for fifteen years and Winterland is only my second novel to be published (there are several others in a drawer), so I mightn’t be the ideal go-to guy for advice about breaking into anything. Having said that, I would agree with the idea that you shouldn’t “write for the market”. That never seems to work. Be true to your own style and vision, and don’t give up.

Q5. Which crime writers have impressed you this year?

One is Gillian Flynn, whose Dark Places is a great book that isn’t afraid to mess around with time-frames and the reader’s sympathies. Adrian McKinty is another. His Fifty Grand is a powerful and violent revenge thriller that seems to operate on some kind of rocket-fuel from the very first page. And Megan Abbott is a delight, James M. Cain reincarnated. I’ve read Queenpin and am looking forward to her earlier two.

Q6. What are you reading right now?

Mainly research stuff. I’m reading Adam Hochschild’s King Leopold’s Ghost and also re-reading Michela Wrong’s In the Footsteps of Mr Kurtz. What I wish I was reading – and will be soon – is Blood’s a Rover.

Q7. Plans for the future?

Finishing Bloodland is about as much future as I can deal with at the moment - I write painfully slowly so there’s still plenty of it left. I have a couple of screenplay ideas I want to work on, but there’s something quixotic and slightly bonkers about writing screenplays – unless, that is, you happen to be best mates with a studio boss, which I’m not. Whatever the next novel presents itself as, that’s what I’ll be working on. There’s something about the novel form – one hundred thousand words, however many pages, sentences, paragraphs – that is incredibly satisfying to write. If I can keep on doing just that, it’ll be fine by me.

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

Yeah, I‘d do a lot less sitting around waiting for the phone to ring and fretting about what people might think. I’d waste a bit less time doing unnecessary research and would trust instinct and intuition a bit more. And when Mephistopheles called by the house that night all those years ago, I guess I would have said, ‘OK, feck it, you’re on’.

Q9. Do you fancy sharing your worst writing experience?

Tech-wise, I once lost eighty pages I’d absolutely slaved over – eighty pages, I seem to remember, of the most exquisite, shimmering, Banvillean prose ever committed to a computer screen. Clicked the wrong button or there was a power-cut or something. So I’ve been obsessive about doing multiple back-ups ever since.

Thank you, Alan Glynn!

Thursday 24 September 2009

Some Like it Hot...

(From the No Alibis Newsletter...)

No Alibis Book Tent @ ChilliFest

Friday 25th - Sunday 27th September



Belfast's independent bookstore pitches up with alternative American literature, Mojo Storytelling, Read 'n' Rant and impromptu literary mischief from festival performers and guests.

Artists confirmed - more to come!

Fri 2-3pm - Paul Charles One of Europe’s leading Music Promoters and an acclaimed crime fiction novelist, chats about his adventures in the music business

Fri 3-4pm - Gerry Anderson Reading and Chat… as only Gerry can!

Fri 4-5pm - Kinky Freidman American singer, songwriter, novelist, humorist, politician and former columnist for Texas Monthly who styles himself in the mold of popular American satirists Will Rogers and Mark Twain.

Sat 1-2pm - Camel Hartley Poetry reading from the multidisciplinary artist and poet -originally from The West Midlands of England, now living in Belfast.

Sat 2-3pm - Simone Felice One of the legendary Felice brothers, Simone will read from his forthcoming book of short stories “Black Jesus”

Sat 3 - 4pm - Sid Griffin The musician, author and broadcaster will read from and chat about his book “on Bob Dylan, 'Million Dollar Bash” with BBC Radio Ulster’s Ralph McLean.

Sat 4 - 5pm - Bandwagon Obscura Music and Poetry

Sun 2 - 3pm - Lyndon Stephens Ex-festival organisor and current driver of the only Dodge in Belfast, Lyndon pays Tribute to the God of East texas Noir… Joe R Lansdale!

Sun 5 - 6pm - Cat Malojian

ph. 02890-319601
fax. 02890319607

Wednesday 23 September 2009

New Dublin Noir


Alan Glynn

5 November 2009, £12.99 original paperback

A gripping thriller set in the Dublin underworld of hitmen, big business and government corruption.

The worlds of business, politics and crime collide in contemporary Dublin when two men with the same name, from the same family, die on the same night - one death is a gangland murder, the other, apparently, a road accident. Was it a coincidence? That’s the official version of events. But when a family member, Gina Rafferty, starts asking questions, this notion quickly unravels.

Devastated by her loss, Gina’s grief is tempered, and increasingly fuelled, by anger - because the more she hears that it was all a coincidence, that gangland violence is commonplace, that people die on our roads every day of the week, the less she’s prepared to accept it.

Told repeatedly that she should stop asking questions, Gina becomes more determined than ever to find out the truth, to establish a connection between the two deaths - but in doing so she embarks on a path that will push certain powerful people to their limits...

'Winterland sets a dramatically high benchmark for emerald noir. With all the operatic inevitability of Greek tragedy, it anatomises what greed has done to Ireland . A resonant, memorable and uncomfortable read.' Val McDermid

‘Both a crime novel and a portrait of contemporary Ireland caught at a moment of profound change, Winterland seems set to mark Alan Glynn as the first literary chronicler of post-Celtic Tiger Ireland. Timely, topical, and thrilling, this is Ireland as it truly is.’ John Connolly

‘Clever and intense; a dark and powerful slice of Dublin noir. I loved it!’ R. J. Ellory

‘A terrific read … completely involving.’ George Pelecanos

‘This is the colossus of Irish crime fiction, what Mystic River did for Dennis Lehane, Winterland should do for Alan Glynn, it is a noir masterpiece, the bar against which all future works will be judged.’ Ken Bruen

‘A thrilling novel of suspense from a new prose master.’ Adrian McKinty

Alan Glynn is a graduate of Trinity College , where he studied English Literature, and has worked in magazine publishing in New York and as an EFL teacher in Italy . His first novel, The Dark Fields, was published in the US in 2002. He is married with two children and lives in Dublin .

Tuesday 22 September 2009

Blood's a Rover Day

According to Wikipedia, James Ellroy's Blood's a Rover is released today. Why is that of interested to Crime Scene NI? Well, Ellroy is Stuart Neville's favourite writer. See what Stuart had to say in his CSNI review of the conclusion to the American Underworld Trilogy.

Also, Ellroy will do an Irish launch for the book at the Waterfront in Belfast (another top class No Alibis event) where Stuart Neville will interview him on stage. Better get yourself sorted with a ticket soon. Check out this post to find out how.

Monday 21 September 2009

What do you say, Mister McGilloway?

Derry man, Brian McGilloway, is the author of the Inspector Devlin Mysteries. The first novel of the series, Borderlands, was published by Macmillan New Writing in 2007. Macmillan New Writing is an imprint of the Macmillan group renowned for taking chances with brand new authors. In McGilloway’s case, it was a chance that paid back in spades. He is reputedly the most successful author to have come from their stable, and the first to see his debut released in the US.

Gallows Lane, the second in the series, was published in the UK in 2008 by Macmillan New Writing to even more acclaim. Based on the success of the first two books, Pan Macmillan extended an offer for a further three-book deal. Now, in 2009, his third novel, Bleed a River Deep, has been published in the UK and Gallows Lane is set for its US release at the end of this month. I caught up with Brian to find out how exciting it is at this stage of a snow-balling writing career.

Gerard Brennan: It’s been quite a journey for you and Inspector Devlin over the last three years. What were some of the highlights?

Brian McGilloway: The whole experience has been incredibly surreal and I consider myself to be very lucky to have made it even as far as this. In terms of highlights, there have been a lot. Meeting some of the writers who I’ve admired for years and finding out that they’re, to a person, lovely people and massively supportive, has been wonderful. Seeing the Japanese translation of Borderlands was a unique experience too. Green Park Films recently optioned the books for television, which was very exciting. I suppose being short listed for the CWA Dagger for Borderlands was also a highlight, augmented by getting a note of congratulations following it from Colin Dexter. Ultimately, meeting people in the crime fiction field – whether writers, readers and even bloggers - making new friends and seeing your books in print, being read is the nicest part of the whole publication thing.

GB: You’ve been compared by many to the giants of the crime fiction genre such as Ian Rankin, Colin Dexter and James Lee Burke. Is that as giddying as I sounds?

BM: I’d be lying if I said that such comparisons aren’t gratifying. Those three writers in particular are the ones that I read as a crime reader and whose novels inspired me to write myself. That said, I suppose it is inevitable that any new crime writer will be measured against the standard-bearers of the genre. I’m immensely lucky that, to date, the comparisons have been largely positive. Still, while it’s nice to be compared to such great writers, I hope that the Devlin books bring something different to the crime field and have a voice of their own.

GB: Although those comparisons have been made, Inspector Devlin stands out as a character cut from a different cloth. Did you find it easy to break away from the cliché of a haunted or emotionally-stunted police inspector?

BM: I wanted above all else with Devlin to make him human. I love the crime fiction genre both as a reader and a writer but I did deliberately want Devlin to reflect my own concerns as a person. At the time I started writing the books this meant being married with a young family and struggling to balance work and family life. And giving up smoking of course, which explains why, though Devlin may not drink too much, he smokes like a train. I felt that there were enough heavy drinking, divorcee mavericks in the ranks of crime fiction without adding another. I suppose it seemed a way to make him a little different and to give him something fresh to say and bring to an already crowded field of fictional detectives. In the course of writing the book, his character became increasingly emotionally involved in the cases. In one of the first scenes in Borderlands, I felt Devlin would want to cover the naked corpse with his coat, both to protect her from the elements and to preserve some final element of dignity for the victim, even in death. That one incident really set the tone for how he responds to the crimes he investigates, prompted perhaps by the fact that he has children of his own. Having children certainly made me view the world very differently.

GB: Why did you decide to write about a Garda Inspector, rather than a PSNI detective?

BM: The border setting seemed too perfect not to exploit, both in terms of its relative uniqueness in crime fiction and its use in plots as an escape route for criminals and the tensions that existed between North and South. I had considered making Devlin a PSNI man but assumed that, if I did so, people would look for a political angle to the character. I didn’t want political baggage with the books – I wanted to write a straight forward crime novel that happened to be set in Ireland. Plus, the PSNI was changing so much at the time as part of the peace process and was so intricately tied into that that anything I wrote would have been outdated by the time it was published.

GB: Bleed a River Deep explores quite a few social issues that have affected modern Ireland. This is a trend that runs throughout the Devlin Mysteries. Do you plan to continue this social commentary in future volumes?

BM: It depends on each story. Book four is currently called the Rising and is concerned with drug dealing and the community response to it. It’s a more personal story and reintroduces Devlin’s old partner, Caroline Williams, though in a slightly different context. I suppose it’s hard not to write about things that anger you or concern you. Devlin is my own personal way of making the world a better place so it’s no surprise the books deal with issues that concern me at a social level. I believe the novelist has a duty to reflect on society and the way in which we treat others. The crime fiction genre in particular is perfectly placed to do this.

GB: The guys at Pan MacMillan have signed you up for another two books. Will you take this opportunity to further explore Benedict Devlin, or do you think you’ll hand the reins over to a new character in the near future?

BM: I’m still learning about Devlin myself with each book and finding his voice growing stronger in each book. Initially I had considered allowing some of the other characters to lead a narrative, but in the end, each book I start seems to develop in Devlin’s voice. If I have stories to tell about Devlin, and if the books’ readers and I are still learning new things about him, I imagine he’ll continue to feature in my writing. I may well take a break from Devlin for a book – I’m at the early stages of planning a stand-alone novel, which I don’t think would fit into Devlin’s world. I’ll see how it develops.

GB: As well as writing, you teach English full-time at St Columb’s College in Derry, and with three young sons, you and your wife are practically raising a small tribe. How do you squeeze it all in?

BM: I’m lucky to have a very supportive wife, which helps a lot. I still consider writing to be a hobby which I enjoy rather than a job which I have to do, so perhaps that mindset has helped. I tend to write at night, or during school holidays. I plan the novels during the year while I’m teaching (not literally obviously) and then the physical writing tends to be done during the summer holidays and late at night during the first term between September and Christmas. To be honest, I couldn’t not write, so it’s something I have to do anyway. As I say, I’ve been blessed with both a supportive wife, and great support from the Principal and staff in St Columb’s.

GB: When you do have a spare thirty seconds or so, what else do you do?

BM: I try to read as much as I can and I’m a cinema fan – movies are simply another form of storytelling anyway. I also started watching The Wire last year on DVD and ended up watching the five seasons one after another over the course of two months or so. It was just fantastic. I suppose by the time the kids go to bed and everything is done, lounging on the sofa for half an hour and watching whatever is on TV is about as good as it gets anyway.

GB: I read somewhere that you’ve a murky past as a playwright. Think you’ll ever revisit the form?

BM: When I started writing it tended to be dramas rather than stories which I suppose helps hone skills in writing dialogue. Declan Hughes is a case in point there – his dialogue in the Ed Loy books is razor sharp probably because of his background in theatre. I haven’t written a stage script in years and, at the moment, enjoy using prose too much to change that.

GB: The Northern Irish crime fiction scene is really thriving right now. Have you any thoughts on where the current trend might take us?

BM: I suppose it’s no surprise that crime fiction has flourished both in Ireland in general with the rise of the drugs gangsters in the South, and in the North in particular with the end of the Troubles. While there has been an increase in the number of crime writers, I’m not sure that has been matched yet with an increased readership. As readers realise that Irish crime fiction isn’t necessarily parochial or Troubles-centred we’ll hopefully see the genre develop even further.

GB: Thanks a million for taking the time, Brian McGilloway.

BM: Thank you!

Friday 18 September 2009

Brian McGilloway, Coming to Americay, Again, Hey!

Brian McGilloway's second Inspector Devlin novel, Gallows Lane, will be released in the US on the 29th of this month. In honour of this occasion, I've resurrected my review of said novel in it's UK form (see post below). Of course, that's only my view, and I suppose some people may not put as much stock in it as I do. However, I'm not the only one who enjoyed it. Here are some of the pre-USA release snippets. Stars and all.

'Outstanding... This quietly compelling procedural contains much buried passion, especially in the never acknowledged mutual attraction between Devlin and his female partner. Readers will be gripped as they watch this driven Irish detective seek his place in the moral landscape. (Publishers Weekly Starred Review)

'This outstanding follow-up to McGilloway's spectacular debut, Borderlands, confirms the Irish writer's place on the A-list of European procedural authors.'' (Booklist Starred Review)

'Devlin, best of fathers and least politic of coppers, is a helluva hero, elbowing his way through a gritty plot.' (Kirkus)

'Refreshing in its outlook, this procedural showcases a rising star in full command of his craft. Strongly recommended.' (Library Journal)

Not bad at all, eh? So, my American friends. Add this one to your payday pick-up list.

A Wee Review - Gallows Lane by Brian McGilloway

(First appeared on CSNI on 01/Oct/08)
Brian McGilloway is probably the most successful writer to come from the Macmillan New Writing stable. He’s secured a two-book deal with Macmillan New Writing and a further three-book deal with Macmillan. Borderlands, the book that kicked off the Devlin series, was nominated and short-listed for a CWA Silver Dagger, translated into German and Japanese, and has recently been released in the US and Australia. And in the second of the Inspector Devlin series, Brian McGilloway brings us the powerful Gallows Lane. Really, he’s doing the Northern Irish crime fiction scene proud.

And I’ve been totally remiss in putting off reading and reviewing Gallows Lane until now. But hey, better late than never, right? Right?

Ahem. On with the review.

As with Borderlands, Gallows Lane opens with the discovery of the gruesome murder of a teenage girl. The difference in this case being that the atrocity has been committed very much within Gardai jurisdiction. The similarity? Devlin is going to have a hard time solving the case and will attract the wrong kind of attention to himself and the people he cares about in the process. As he liaises with the Dublin NCIB, the PSNI and British Intelligence, and loses popularity among his colleagues when he doubts the authenticity of a high-profile arms and drugs find, the elements to this expertly layered plot come together perfectly to offer something special.

Gallows Lane is a much more ambitious book than Borderlands, and McGilloway juggles the interweaving plots with casual ease, never fumbling once. And he seems to have refined his voice. While I truly enjoyed Borderlands, Gallows Lane went beyond that. It had that elusive je ne sais quoi quality that kept the book constantly within hand’s reach for the four short days I gorged on it. I’m still trying to figure out the magic behind the ‘unputdownable book’, but this year I’ve experienced it in the work of Ken Bruen, Adrian McKinty and Ian Sansom, to name a few; and now, Brian McGilloway seems to have learned the formula. Come on, lads. Share the wealth. What’s the secret?

I’m also intrigued by Devlin’s character development. He’s gotten a little cynical since Borderlands, but at times he conveys this cynicism with smirk-inducing humour. At a funeral on a sunny day he thinks to himself, ‘So much for pathetic fallacy.’ Isn’t that lovely? There are more cracking one-liners peppered throughout the novel, but I’ll let you guys discover them for yourselves.

Along with his early-onset cynicism, I have a feeling that we’re being subtly prepared for further straining of his marriage in the future. Gallows Lane offers many personal ups and downs as Devlin’s wife, Debbie, is shown to still hold resentment for her husband’s past with one Miriam Powell, and at times struggles with the pressure of the dangers Devlin’s job can bring to the family home. And Devlin often notices and enjoys beauty in other women. It’s very much an underlying characteristic, and used to great effect by McGilloway, but as far as I can see, Devlin is reading the menu a little too often... and his mouth is watering.

If you’re looking for the latest and greatest police procedural crime fiction, get on to McGilloway’s work right now. A mere two books in to the Devlin series, and he’s proved himself a heavy weight in the genre. Mark my words, McGilloway is destined for the heights of success enjoyed by the Colin Dexters and Ian Rankins of this world, and he truly deserves it. Bring on the third Devlin novel, Bleed A River Deep.

Wednesday 16 September 2009

A Wee Review - All the Colours of the Town by Liam McIllvanney

Liam McIllvanney’s All the Colours of the Town is a welcome addition to the quality post-Troubles literature that has gone from strength to strength in recent years. McIllvanney puts Northern Irish Loyalist criminals under the microscope in this tale of a Glasgow journalist out for the scoop of his career. The novel has been labelled a thriller, for marketing purposes, I suppose, but to me it’s more of a thought-provoking literary affair. And a brilliant one at that.

What stood out, first and foremost, was the quality of the prose. McIllvanney’s eye for detail and masterful use of imagery brings a fresh light to everyday sights in Northern Ireland. It wasn’t action, tension or bloodshed that gripped me. It was the writing. And really, in any book in which almost all of the violence and skulduggery happens off screen (or off the page), the writing has to be of a high calibre to appease this crime fiction junky.

The book’s protagonist, Gerry Conway, is a very well-constructed character. Three dimensional, chockfull of flaws and mostly well-intentioned. Conway is a Scottish political journalist for The Tribune who has fallen into a rut in his personal and professional life. He’s unhappy and unfulfilled, and so, after a little lethargic reluctance, he fastens hard to the opportunity for change when it presents itself as an aged photograph of a gathering of Northern Irish terrorists. His journey is fascinating and ultimately satisfying to this reader.

Although I fancy this book as closer to literary fiction than it’s marketing-friendly thriller tag, it’s not all style and flourish. There is a very well-conceived and structured plot at the core. And there are some classic mystery mechanisms at play. My balance wobbled more than once as McIllvanney revealed a goodly number of twists in the third act.

Belfast, seen through the eyes of Conway, is both similar to and starkly different from Glasgow. Both cities share a lot of the same political and social problems but it’s when an unexpected incongruity hits Conway that the observations really shine. I was very impressed by how well McIllvanney presented a very real image of Belfast. Especially since he now lives in New Zealand!

All the Colours of the Town makes for an interesting counterbalance to Stuart Neville’s successful first novel, The Twelve. McIllvanney’s book is not quite an inversion of Neville’s study of the Republican hierarchy in Northern Irish politics and crime, but it’s as close to it as anything else out there. If you’ve enjoyed one, I imagine you’ll enjoy the other, even if they are very different in writing style and approach to the subject matter. McIllvanney is a top shelf wordsmith. His writing is smoother than a thirty-year-old single malt and just as mature. It’s hard to believe that this is a debut novel, for all the very right reasons.

Tuesday 15 September 2009

No Alibis Event - James Ellroy (Updated)

(From the No Alibis Newsletter)

7th November


Waterfront Hall, Belfast

No Alibis Bookstore is very pleased to announce that we will be hosting an event with none other than the Demon Dog of American crime fiction, James Ellroy, on November 7th to celebrate the release of the final book in his Underworld USA trilogy, BLOOD'S A ROVER.

James Ellroy was born in Los Angeles in 1948. He is the author of the acclaimed LA Quartet, The Black Dahlia, The Big Nowhere, LA Confidential and White Jazz, as well as the first two parts of this Underworld USA trilogy, American Tabloid and The Cold Six Thousand which were both Sunday Times bestsellers.

It's 1968. Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King are dead. The Mob, Howard Hughes and J Edgar Hoover are in a struggle for America's soul, drawing into their murderous conspiracies the damned and the soon-to-be damned. Wayne Tedrow Jr.: parricide, assassin, dope cooker, mouthpiece for all sides, loyal to none. His journey will take him away from the darkness and into an even greater darkness. Dwight Holly: Hoover's enforcer and hellish conspirator in terrible crimes. As Hoover's power wanes his destiny lurches towards Richard Nixon and self-annihilation. Don Crutchfield: is a kid, a nobody, a wheelman and a private detective who stumbles upon an ungodly conspiracy from which he and the country may never recover. All three men are drawn to women on the opposite side of the political and moral spectrum; all are compromised and ripe for destruction. Only one of them will survive. The final part of James Ellroy's "Underworld USA" trilogy is set during the social and political upheaval of 1968-72. "Blood's a Rover" is an incandescent fusion of fact and fiction and is James Ellroy's greatest masterpiece.

Tickets £12.

Available from No Alibis Bookstore and the Waterfront Hall box office

The ticket includes free entry to the Tiger Room after the show to help celebrate the event. Musical entertainment will be provided by The Sabrejets.

ph. 02890-319601
fax. 02890319607

Friday 11 September 2009

Chandleresque - Raymond Chandler Talk

(From the No Alibis Newsletter)

Queen's Film Theatre Thursday 17th September 6.30pm

2009 marks the 50th anniversary of the death of legendary American crime writer Raymond Chandler, whose seven completed novels, including The Big Sleep, Farewell My Lovely and The Long Goodbye had a profound impact on crime fiction and crime movies.

The success of his novels encouraged Chandler to try his hand at screenwriting and he went on to write scripts for classic films including Billy Wilder’s Double Imdemnity, Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train and, of course, The Blue Dahlia.

Adrian Wootton, CEO of Film London, former artistic director of the London Film Festival and director of the Crime Scene film and literature festival, has curated film programmes and written about Chandler for many years. In this illustrated talk Wootton will give an overview of Chandler’s life and career and the lasting legacy of his work and will take a look at the unforgettable characters Chandler created on the page and on screen.

Presented in association with No Alibis bookshop who will be running a book stall on the evening.

Joint ticket available for talk and The Blue Dahlia screening - £10/ £8 QFT members. Book online at

Chandleresque - Raymond Chandler talk and screening
Run Time
1 hour 30 minutes
Official Site

Thursday 10 September 2009

An Interview - T.A. Moore

T.A. Moore
lives in Northern Ireland and shares her space with a cat, too many books and a very kick-ass pair of boots. She was one-time leader of the Performance Pros performance group and has plans involving asparagus, a small bus and the kick-ass boots that should come to fruition in 2012.

Her first novel The Even was published by Morrigan Books in 2008 and the sequel will be out in 2010. In addition to her writing Tammy has designed Creative Writing Workshops, written reviews and judged short story competitions.

"A darkly humorous edgy descent into the world of the forgotten gods. Moore's THE EVEN is like a cocktail with hidden spices: a drop of Terry Pratchett, a dash of Justina Robson, a slurp of crushed legends, with the smeared essence of a fallen faery frosting the glass. Lenith is a glittering gothic anti-hero presented against the splattered canvas of a newly imagined underworld. A stark and thoroughly memorable rebellion against sanitised fantasy."
Greg Hamerton, author of The Riddler's Gift

Q1. What are you writing at the minute?

It’s a chick-lit detective novel set in Dublin. My friend wants me to call it Dick-Lit, but I think that will cause confusion. (I know, I know – chick-lit is dead! I’ll think of something else to call it when I’m pimping it around town.) I just finished writing Shadows Bloom, the sequel to The Even, and I’ve my PhD novel sitting in a drawer waiting for the edit.

Q2. Can you give us an idea of T.A Moore’s typical up-to-the-armpits-in-ideas-and-time writing day?

You make it sound more interesting than it actually is! And more full of time. I tend to work 9-5. The mornings I do freelance work – articles, reviews, critiques and the like – and in the afternoons I work on whatever I have going creatively at the time. I tend to sneak an hour late at night to write too. Discipline is important for me, particularly if the WIP (work-in-progress) isn’t flowing as smoothly as I’d like. I’m a world class procrastinator – one of those kids who spent weeks colouring in their complex revision charts and had to cram all the actual revision into two nights – and if I’m not firm with myself I’ll spend the time making buns or cleaning or playing solitaire on the computer.

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

Not writing? I kid, I kid. It’s important to keep a balance, otherwise you burn out and they find you hiding under a table with a watermelon and a colander. I read a lot. It sounds like a busman’s holiday, I suppose, but it’s nice to just immerse myself in other people’s worlds sometimes. Sometimes I knit – not well, but doing something with my hands that requires concentration but no real THOUGHT (at least, not at the ‘it’s a scarf!’ level of knitting I do) helps me untwist my brain.

Q4. Any advice for a greenhorn trying to break into the urban fantasy scene?

I think the same advice I’d give anyone looking to break into any genre field. Read a lot, write what you’re passionate about and don’t give up. Get BETTER, you always have to be just a little dissatisfied with what you’ve written, but never give up.

What else?

Be ready to publicise yourself. Even if you get a big book deal with a major publishing company, they’re going to want you to put yourself about. If you’re working with an indie press, then you’ll need to be willing to put in the work. If no-one knows about your work they can’t read it.

Q5. Which crime writers have impressed you this year?

Dashiell Hammett. I know he isn’t a new writer, but I’ve been re-reading Red Harvest and I’m just in love with it. Perhaps because it isn’t a style of writing I envy – or want to emulate – so I can just enjoy the brusque, restless pace of it. Besides, I adore the shameless Dinah Brand.

As far as writers who are still alive go, I am enjoying Stuart Neville’s short story collection ‘The Six’. I like his writing, the taste of Belfast in the prose, the poetry and the prosaic all wrapped together in one.

My favourite fantasy author at the moment is C.E. Murphy. (I don’t think she reads this blog, so it isn’t sucking up.) The Inheritor’s Cycle has pretty much everything I want in a novel – a rich historical backdrop, a cast of distinct, clever characters and endings the simultaneously satisfy and leave me desperate for the next book to come out.

And I haven’t read these yet, but I am really looking forward to Laura-Anne Gilman’s Vineart series. They look fascinating and I can’t wait to see how the world and the magic weaves itself together.

Q6. What are you reading right now?

Ill-Met in the Arena by Dave Duncan.

Q7. Plans for the future?

To become implausibly successful and be feted the world over! Or to make at least part of my living doing what I love, I’d settle for that.

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

Maybe not listen to my third form English teacher when she told me my writing was sordid and disgusting? Mostly though, I’ve no aching regrets about anything I’ve done with my writing. Maybe I should get some?

Q9. Do you fancy sharing your worst writing experience?

Oh, that would be the first rejection letter I got from an agent. It was SCATHING. I think that is one of the reasons I’ve never let rejections put me off for long, nothing could be as harsh as that first letter. It said that my novel wasn’t right for their agency and that ‘perhaps another agency would have lower standards.’

I don’t, by the way, think the actual agent involved had anything to do with the letter. In my experience, agents are far too busy to waste time being snide to aspiring writers. It was probably some intern with ideas of being the next Ms Snark, but it was still a shock to read first time out of the submitting gate.

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

I will be doing a reading and Q&A session in the Lock-Keeper’s Cottage in Castlereagh this November, along with some bloke called...Gerard? Come and see us!

Thank you, T.A. Moore!

Wednesday 9 September 2009

No Alibis - What's Coming Up...

Unfortunately, I didn't make it to the Paul Charles event at No Alibis Bookstore last Friday. I welcome comments from anybody who made it, though. Meanwhile, I can still look forward to Paul's appearance at Lisburn City Library on Thursday 1st October at 8PM for a reading and Q&A for The Big Big Reading Group. Admission is free and all are welcome.

And although I missed out on that particular reading (and Liam McIllvanney's) David Torrans has a helluva lot coming up in the next few months:

Jack O'Connell will be at the shop in November (one of James Ellroy's favourite authors, dontcha know).

CWA winner Denise Mina is also booked in.

John Connolly will launch The Gates in early October.

And looking a little further ahead, Michael Connelly will return to Belfast in 2010 for another No Alibis event.

But wait until you hear this...

David recently had dinner with George Pelecanos. This crime fiction giant and TV writer for the hit series, The Wire, said, "David, I'm coming to Belfast," before David even had a chance to lay out his practiced spiel to persuade the man to come over. Apparently, Michael Connelly had been on the phone to Pelecanos after his successfull appearance in Belfast and sold him on the idea! Go Mr T!!!

You know what... if you're a crime fiction fan, you could do a lot worse than to get your backside to Belfast. Come on. Don't even think of it as a holiday. Move here. Houses are cheap enough right now. What's stopping you?

Friday 4 September 2009

No Alibis Event - Paul Charles





Family Life

In ones and twos the Sweeney clan and their partners, wives and children gather at Liam Sweeney’s farm on the outskirts of Ramelton, County Donegal to celebrate Liam’s birthday. The banter and storytelling is great as they await the arrival of the single missing family member. But when Inspector Starrett arrives unexpectedly at the farm it becomes clear that all is not well. The body of a Sweeney family member has just been discovered in the courtyard of a waterfront warehouse in the nearby town and the circumstances are suspicious to say the least.

In the course of the investigation Starrett begins to realise how weird and wonderful the politics of a family are as he discovers that of the several suspects he and his team throw up, two or even three of them are family members. On top of which, it appears to Starrett’s team that every family member has a secret or two they’d like to keep hidden. But while working on this investigating Starrett discovers some drastic news which concerns his own family.

Paul Charles was born in Magherafelt, Ireland and is one of Europe’s best known music promoters and agents. He is the author of seven previous Inspector Christy Kennedy novels: I Love The Sound of Breaking Glass, Last Boat To Camden Town, Fountain Of Sorrow, The Ballad Of Sean And Wilko, The Hissing Of The Silent Lonely Room, I’ve Heard The Banshee Sing and The Justice Factory. The first Starrett mystery, The Dust of Death, was published by Brandon in 2007

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ph. 02890-319601
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One To Watch Out For...

James M McGowan is a crime fiction writer from Galway. He claims Ken Bruen ran him out of town. I’m not sure how true that might be, but it’s such a lovely image, I just had to throw it out there.

He lived in Belfast for five years ‘when the going was tough’ and worked in Drogheda for a time, a County Louth town where one might meet a shady character or ten -- and McGowan met them. The Wee City seems to have gotten into his blood, as a lot of his fiction is very much rooted in Belfast. On that score alone, he’s all right by me.

His influences include, Jim Thompson, Ross Macdonald, David Pearce, Richard Stark and James Ellroy, so you can bet his work is blacker than tar. Another Norn Noir champion in the making.

He’s featured quite regularly on Powder Burn Flash and you can check out his writing in the following places:

They’re the perfect length for a quick Friday read. Get to clicking, guys.

His work has previously been published in Plots with Guns, Thuglit, Hard Luck Stories, Demolition and Mouth Full of Bullets.

He’s represented by Allan Guthrie of Jenny Brown Associates.

Get familiar with this dude now. He’s going places.

Thursday 3 September 2009

Jack on the Box

Oh hell, yeah! Got a snippet of info on the new TV series based on Ken Bruen's Jack Taylor novels. The Irish Film and Television Network website has released news of a 13 part series based on the novel The Guards. The pilot (running time 90 mins) will be broadcast on the 1st November. It'll be shot on location, in and around Galway City. The cast is still to be announced.

For info on the production company involved et al, have a shufty here.

Wednesday 2 September 2009

Web Slinging

It’s been a very long time since I paid any attention to my writing website, Truth be told, I’d kind of cut it loose, as my buddy and web-design-guy has been promising me a new look internet presence that’d be “the envy of writers everywhere!” But then he got mad busy with work that people pay him to do and suddenly the prospect of a tray of Carlsberg wasn’t making his priority list. So, over the last few weeks, I’ve been chipping away at the content in my present site. If my mate gets time to breathe in the near future, I’ll be needing the words to go with his new design anyway.

The bulk of the work has been put into the Literature section of the site. I’ve added a bunch of more recent stories. You’ll find:

Tales from the Sweety Bottle

These stories first appeared as a series in the Andersonstown News at the start of 2009.

King Edward

A slice of Norn Noir that first appeared on Christopher Grant's A Twist of Noir in November 2008.


This little flash fiction piece is the opening tale from POSSESSION, OBSESSION AND A DIESEL COMPRESSION ENGINE; a chapbook written by me with much editorial help from Mike Stone.

Hard Rock

Hard Rock first appeared in issue 29 of ThugLit. My wife called me a sick bastard after she read it. Says it all, really.


The story of an office creep -- one of my old school horror tales.


This story first appeared in the August 2008 issue of Verbal Magazine. It's one of my personal favourites.

Read the online versions here. They’re all free, so what have you got to lose?

But just so this post isn’t all about little old me, I thought I’d draw your attention to another blog I’ve been enjoying for the last week or two. Lou Boxer’s NoirCon blog has run some cracking material. The first post to have caught my eye was this very detailed look at what Ken Bruen has been up to in the past few months movie-wise. And today I took a little time to read some thoughts on what makes a story Hard-Boiled or Noir. It’s good stuff, folks. Bookmark it forthwith.

Tuesday 1 September 2009

Stuart Neville, a Star and Still Rising...

Wow! Ahead of the official release date of The Ghosts of Belfast (known as The Twelve in its UK publishing form) Stuart Neville has received a starred review from Publishers Weekly, snippets of which I’ve pasted below.

'With this stunning debut, Neville joins a select group of Irish writers, including Ken Bruen, Declan Hughes and Adrian McKinty, who have reinvigorated the noir tradition with a Celtic edge... This is not only an action-packed, visceral thriller but also an insightful insider’s glimpse into the complex political machinations and networks that maintain the uneasy truce in Northern Ireland.'

For the whole Publisher's Weekly review, click here.

But that ain’t all. He’s also just announced what must be a dream come true. When JAMES ELLROY comes to Belfast in November, Neville will interview him on stage. (I've told you about that event, haven't I? Well, I'll be mentioning it even more now, as I've my ticket in a secure place and I'm guaranteed a seat now.) I’d be sweating a little at the prospect of interviewing the Demon Dog of American Literature, but maybe Ellroy, a huge boxing fan, will warm to Neville’s ‘pugilist’s build.’

So, congrats to Stuart Neville on all his successes. I just have one question for the guy. What the hell are you going to do next, man?