“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, February 6, 2016

First Look: WHAT SHE NEVER TOLD ME by Kate McQuaile

Originally from Drogheda, now living in London, Kate McQuaile’s debut novel of psychological suspense WHAT SHE NEVER TOLD ME (Quercus) is set in Ireland. To wit:
I talked to my mother the night she died, losing myself in memories of when we were happiest together. But I held one memory back, and it surfaces now, unbidden. I see a green postbox and a small hand stretching up to its oblong mouth. I am never sure whether that small hand is mine. But if not mine, whose?
  Louise Redmond left Ireland for London before she was twenty. Now, more than two decades later, her heart already breaking from a failing marriage, she is summoned home. Her mother is on her deathbed, and it is Louise’s last chance to learn the whereabouts of a father she never knew.
  Stubborn to the end, Marjorie refuses to fill in the pieces of her daughter’s fragmented past. Then Louise unexpectedly finds a lead. A man called David Prescott . . . but is he really the father she’s been trying to find? And who is the mysterious little girl who appears so often in her dreams? As each new piece of the puzzle leads to another question, Louise begins to suspect that the memories she most treasures could be a delicate web of lies.
WHAT SHE NEVER TOLD ME will be published on March 3rd.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Publications: Irish Crime Fiction 2016

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

DEAD SECRET by Ava McCarthy (January 14)
BLOOD AND WATER by Siobhain Bunni (January 19)
RAIN DOGS by Adrian McKinty (January 21)

BURIED by Graham Masterton (February 11)
THE DROWNED DETECTIVE by Neil Jordan (February 25)
BISHOP’S DELIGHT by Patrick McGinley (February 29)

PENANCE by Kate O’Riordan (March 1)
WHAT SHE NEVER TOLD ME by Kate McQuaile (March 3)
A SAVAGE HUNGER by Claire McGowan (March 10)
PIMP by Ken Bruen & Jason Starr (March 18)
THE PLEA by Steve Cavanagh (March 24)
SIREN by Annemarie Neary (March 24)
SISTERS AND LIES by Bernice Barrington (March 26)
BLACK ROSE DAYS by Martin Malone (March 31)

ALL THINGS NICE by Sheila Bugler (April 4)
THE DRESSMAKER by Sam Blake (April 7)
A TIME OF TORMENT by John Connolly (April 7)

THE CITY IN DARKNESS by Michael Russell (May 5)
DISTRESS SIGNALS by Catherine Ryan Howard (May 5)
THE LAST DAYS OF SUMMER by Vanessa Ronan (May 5)

GIRL UNKNOWN by Karen Perry (June 2)
TREACHEROUS STRAND by Andrea Carter (June 2)
LYING IN WAIT by Liz Nugent (June TBC)

PARADIME by Alan Glynn (August 2)
SO SAY THE FALLEN by Stuart Neville (August 4)
THE TRESPASSER by Tana French (August 11)
THE CONSTANT SOLDIER by William Ryan (August 25)

THE WONDER by Emma Donoghue (September 8)

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

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

First Look: A SAVAGE HUNGER by Claire McGowan

Claire McGowan’s A SAVAGE HUNGER (Headline) is the fourth in the Northern Ireland-set crime series featuring forensic psychologist Paula Maguire. To wit:
Victim: Female. Twenty-two years of age.
  Reason for investigation: Missing person.
  ID: Alice Morgan. Student. Last seen at a remote religious shrine in Ballyterrin.
  Alice Morgan’s disappearance raises immediate questions for forensic psychologist Paula Maguire. Alice, the daughter of a life peer in the Home Office, has vanished along with a holy relic - the bones of a saint - and the only trace is the bloodstains on the altar.
  With no body to confirm death, the pressure in this high-profile case is all-consuming, and Paula knows that she will have to put her own life, including her imminent marriage, on hold, if they are to find the truth.
  A connection to a decades-old murder immediately indicates that all may not be as it seems; as the summer heat rises and tempers fray, can Alice be found or will they learn that those that are hungry for vengeance may be the most savage of all?
  A SAVAGE HUNGER will be published on March 10th. Claire McGowan has been acclaimed as “Ireland’s answer to Ruth Rendell” by no less an authority than Ken Bruen. For more on Claire McGowan, clickety-click here

Monday, January 25, 2016

Review: NIGHT MUSIC by John Connolly

All good fiction incorporates an investigation of one kind or another, which may account in part for the enduring popularity of the crime / mystery novel. John Connolly is best known for his Charlie Parker novels, set in Maine and featuring a private eye who lives in a world tinged by the supernatural. By contrast, Connolly’s short stories – Night Music is his second collection; the first, Nocturnes, was published in 2004 – tend to foreground the supernatural. Night Music (Hodder & Stoughton) borrows liberally from the traditions of the ghost and horror story, the fairy and folktale, and boldly goes into the unknown realms of quantum physics.
  The collection opens with the Edgar Award-winning tale of ‘The Caxton Private Lending Library & Book Depository’, a delightfully absurd story about an institution to which the memorable characters of fiction retire to live for eternity once their creators have shuffled off this mortal coil. The note of whimsy may not set the tone for the rest of the collection, but its theme – the way in which fiction can rewrite reality – certainly does.
  That theme is directly addressed in the collection’s centre-piece, ‘The Fractured Atlas – Five Fragments’. The first fragment finds the Huguenot refugee Couvret in Amsterdam, where he encounters a book “that is like being in contact with a living thing. It pulses, and smells of blood.” Each of the five fragments explores the evil potential of this book: when an investigator searching for Lionel Maulding, the missing owner of the book, mocks the possibility that the book is ‘rewriting the world’, he is told firmly that, “The world is forever being altered by books.”
  In the midst of ‘The Fractured Atlas’ is the collection’s finest moment, the novella-length and M.R. James-influenced ‘The Wanderer in Unknown Realms’, in which the WWI veteran searching for Lionel Maulding might be experiencing the world being redrafted by an evil tome; equally, he might be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder brought on by the horrors he witnessed in the trenches.
  Other elements from Connolly’s fiction resurface during the collection. ‘Razorshins’, set in Maine, is a story that draws upon the folklore of the great North Woods as Connolly resurrects the mythical ‘wendigo’. The fascination with theoretical physics Connolly explores in his young adult novels featuring Samuel Johnson returns in ‘The Wanderer in Unknown Realms’, as the author references William James’ concept of ‘the multiverse’; in ‘The Children of Dr Lyall’, set in London during WWII, Connolly explores an existential kind of horror in a story that blends abortion and quantum physics.
  Elsewhere, ‘The Hollow King’ offers a return to ‘the Universe of The Book of Lost Things’, an offshoot from the standalone novel published in 2006 that goes to the dark heart of the fairytale form to evoke Charles Perrault. ‘On The Anatomization of an Unknown Man (1637) by Frans Mier’ is pure Edgar Allen Poe; ‘Lazarus’ goes back to the New Testament for its inspiration, as the resurrected Lazarus, adrift and zombie-like, fears that “some great wrong has been committed in the name of pity and love.” ‘The Haunting’, meanwhile, is the boldest statement of intent title-wise; in fact, it’s a love story, and one of the most affecting in the collection.
  In a collection crackling with invention and ambition, Connolly saves the best for (almost) last. ‘Holmes on the Range’ is a very funny offshoot from ‘The Caxton Private Lending Library and Book Depository’, in which Sherlock Holmes arrives at the library in the wake of his infamous death at the Reichenbach Falls, only to belatedly discover that his creator, Arthur Conan Doyle (as countless authors have done since), has begun to rewrite his character. Is it conceivable that the immortal Holmes and Watson might – gasp! – be ‘replaced at some future date by alternative versions of themselves’?
  The rest, as they say, is history …

  This review was first published in the Irish Examiner.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Publication: BLOOD AND WATER by Siobhain Bunni

BLOOD AND WATER (Poolbeg Press) is Siobhain Bunni’s second novel, following on from DARK MIRRORS (2013). Quoth the blurb elves:
Meet the Bertrams . . . William the celebrated politician, conniving father and devious husband. Barbara, his long-suffering wife who laces her day with alcohol so she can hide from herself. And their children: Sebastian, a successful businessman defending his realm; Enya, the grieving prodigal daughter returned from self-imposed exile; Cormac, a sex addict with delusions of his own prowess; Ciara, an emotional drama queen who like a little lost puppy just wants to be loved; Rian, the damaged bird who looks to fix everyone else around him before fixing himself. The Bertrams tell their lies and tolerate each other, not because they want to but because they have to: they re family. But when their simmering tensions reach boiling point they discover that life has a way of letting slip even the most closely guarded secrets. Then it s payback time for the Bertrams as events conspire to put an end to the biggest lie of all. A riveting tale of intrigue, love, manipulation and family bonds.
  BLOOD AND WATER is published on January 19. For more, clickety-click here

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

First Look: PENANCE by Kate O’Riordan

Kate O’Riordan publishes her sixth novel, the psychological thriller PENANCE (Constable), on March 1st. To wit:
“You know I did a terrible thing. What you cannot know is that there exists an extreme irony, in that, but for one unforgivable sin - far more terrible things might have transpired.”
  The lives of Rosalie Douglas and her teenage daughter, Maddie, are changed forever when they meet Jed, a beautiful, charismatic young man at Bereavement Counselling. Inexplicably and self-destructively, Maddie holds herself accountable for her brother’s drowning accident in Thailand.
  Jed moves into their lives and their home. Calming the tensions between mother and daughter. He understands the twisted wilderness of grief. Lover and confidante to a besotted Maddie, gentle surrogate son to a grateful Rosalie - on the surface their lives are transformed. But underneath a deadly and morally corrupt triangle is taking shape ...
  Rosalie commits an unspeakable act which forces her to unravel the truth behind the beautiful stranger in their midst. The truth behind the death of her son. And the true extent of just how far she’s prepared to go - to save what remains of her family.
  London-based Kate O’Riordan grew up in the west of Ireland. An award-winning author, she has also written for stage and screen. For more, clickety-click here

Monday, January 18, 2016

First Look: BISHOP’S DELIGHT by Patrick McGinley

Patrick McGinley publishes BISHOP’S DELIGHT (New Island) next month, with the blurb elves wibbling thusly:
“All a politician needs to know about hacks is that the best story wins. They’re only entertainers who’ve wrapped themselves in the flag of truth…”
  Taoiseach Jim Maguire has disappeared under suspicious circumstances. Two rival journalists, Kevin Woody and Tony Sweetman, struggle to find the best story to tell about Maguire’s vanishing act.
  As Woody and Sweetman navigate their turbulent personal lives while trying to keep the story of Maguire’s disappearance alive for another day, it begins to emerge that there may have been more to the missing Taoiseach than his political career. What is the truth about Maguire, and what is the mysterious Bishop’s Delight?
  BISHOP’S DELIGHT shows novelist Patrick McGinley at his mesmerising best, showcasing his formidable literary style, his ever-present dark humour and his uncanny ability to explore uncomfortable truths.
  BISHOP’S DELIGHT will be published on February 8th. For all the details, clickety-click here
  For a review of Patrick McGinley’s COLD SPRING (2013), clickety-click here

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Launch: DEAD SECRET by Ava McCarthy

Ava McCarthy launches her latest thriller, DEAD SECRET (HarperCollins) next Wednesday, January 27th. To wit:
HarperCollins Publishers invites you to celebrate the launch of Ava McCarthy’s new thriller, DEAD SECRET, at Dubray Books, Blackrock Shopping Centre, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, on Wednesday 27th Jan 2016 from 6:30pm-8:30pm
  Quoth the blurb elves:
From the author of the Harry Martinez thrillers comes a gripping psychological suspense novel.
  Two quick shots. One for him. One for you.
  After the death of her three-year-old daughter, Jodie has nothing left to live for – or almost nothing.
  She has one task to fulfil before she takes her own life. And that’s to kill the man she holds responsible for her daughter’s death – her seemingly perfect husband, Ethan.
  But Ethan is hiding more than just his true nature. And as more horrifying secrets from his past emerge, Jodie’s strength will be pushed to the limit …

Thursday, January 14, 2016

First Look: THE DROWNED DETECTIVE by Neil Jordan

Film director Neil Jordan publishes his latest novel, THE DROWNED DETECTIVE (Bloomsbury), on February 25th. Quoth the blurb elves:
Jonathan is a private investigator in a decaying eastern European city, consumed by his work and his failing marriage. Approached one day by an elderly couple, he is presented with a faded photograph of their daughter, missing for nearly two decades. Troubled by the image of the little girl, who was the same age when she vanished as his own daughter is now, he is compelled to find her. But one night, soon after taking on the case, as he walks across the bridge spanning the river that divides the city, he encounters a young woman crouched at the foot of a stone angel - a woman who suddenly leaps into the icy water below. Without thinking, Jonathan plunges after her, and is soon drawn into her ghostly world of confusion, coincidence and intrigue, and the city he thought he knew turns strange and threatening. Haunting and deeply moving, The Drowned Detective is an intoxicating, atmospheric exploration of relationships, lies and betrayal - confirming Neil Jordon as a master storyteller and a vital literary voice.
  For more, clickety-click here

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

First Look: ALL THINGS NICE by Sheila Bugler

ALL THINGS NICE (Brandon) is the third of Sheila Bugler’s novels to feature DI Ellen Kelly, and will be published on April 4th. To wit:
Charlotte Gleeson is living the life she always dreamed of, but it's nothing like she imagined. Her daughter hates her, her husband is having an affair, her drinking is out of control. And now she’s the prime suspect in a murder investigation …
  For DI Ellen Kelly, this is her first big investigation in eight months – since she let a serial killer get away. There’s an awful lot riding on a good result, which means keeping up the pressure on Charlotte Gleeson and her messed-up family.
  As Ellen investigates, it becomes clear the Gleesons are harbouring some dangerous secrets. The more she digs, the more she uncovers … and the closer she comes to a deadly confrontation.
  For more from Sheila Bugler, clickety-click here