Friday, 30 September 2011

A Wee Review - The Burning Soul by John Connolly

Randal Haight is at wits’ end. Somebody is sending him pictures that prove you cannot escape your past. You see, Haight hasn’t always been Haight. The person he was before – the child he was before – murdered a little girl. And now the town he’s settled in is in a frenzied uproar over the disappearance of a fourteen-year-old girl. Cue Charlie Parker, a private investigator with a tragic past, as Haight’s protector. The only thing is, Parker doesn’t believe his client is as innocent as he claims.

John Connolly’s latest, The Burning Soul, is a Charlie Parker thriller (number 10). Excellent news for fans of the series, but equally great news for those yet to sample Connolly’s work (if there’s anybody out there who hasn’t, that is). This is a very self-contained book that is faithful to the series but is not loaded with back story. Parker’s arc as a character continues but there are no huge developments in a broader sense that require chronological reading from the very start of the series. If you’re not on the Connolly train already, this is your boarding platform. But set aside some time. You’ll want to make this a round trip.

This is an outstanding novel. It’s chockfull of dense and powerful prose that isn’t intimidating but, in fact, is addictively consumable. The portrayal of a violent and unpredictable Boston Irish mob (post-Bulger) in constant crisis is chilling. And the supernatural twist? Cross your heart and bless your burning soul. This one’s coming to get you.

Monday, 26 September 2011


"The artist and curator, Miguel Martin, speaks to Gerard Brennan on Platform Arts' latest exhibition."

Read the interview over at Culture NI.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

I'm getting too old for this shhh.

An interesting day today. I enrolled in the Queen's University Belfast MA for creative writing. It was a bit of a challenge to get to this point. First the stress of getting accepted onto the course. I applied thinking it was a long shot but in the time it took to get word back I began to believe that I needed that offer more than anything in the world. I'm good at torturing myself that way. But the offer came and then I had to figure out a way to actually attend the classes. Turned out I would have to take a demotion at the day-job if I was going to make the classes. After considering the finances and whatnot, and with the support of my perfect wife, it looked like it would be a reality. Then I had to pay the fees. Not easy on my newly reduced income. But we worked it out.

And I got what I wanted in the end. So today I spent a lot of time marvelling at the fact that I'm so much older than the majority of folk milling about the Queen's campus during freshers' week. I passed down many an offer for a free shot at a nightclub or a reduced rate pizza from young hipsters armed with a stack of coupons positioned at strategic points on campus. And I accepted the reality of the work I'll have to put in to gain that piece of paper that will validate me as a serious student of creative writing. And I got a student card that will entitle me to money off clothes from shops I wouldn't dare set foot in.

But hey, now I can dream of a day-job in the arts sector. And I feel accomplished.

In other news, I got a further ego boost when I read an article in the Belfast Telegraph that names me as a writer to look out for in the future. Gob bless Colin Bateman and read the article here.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Kill List Review

I reviewed a movie called Kill List for the Culture NI website. At first glance it looks like the kind of thing I'd love. Did it satisfy or disappoint? The answer is only a click away.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Wayne Simmons on Point

And today's blurb has been brought to you by Northern Ireland's leading zombie expert, Wayne Simmons. The only thing cooler than Simmon's tattoos is his writing. And to get an endorsement from this dude just plain rocks. Here's what he had to say after reading The Point:

"Noir from Norn Iron! A lean slice of grindhouse from Belfast's new crime hack." - Wayne Simmons, bestselling author of Flu and Drop Dead Gorgeous

I really like the idea of myself as a 'crime hack'. Though hacking usually takes on a more sinister meaning in Simmons' work. Thanks, Wayne! I'd buy you a pint if you hadn't absconded to Cardiff.

Friday, 16 September 2011

A Wee Review - Truth Lies Bleeding by Tony Black

Following a spell as a desk jockey, DI Rob Brennan is back on Edinburgh's mean streets. And his first case could very well unravel all the emotional healing done during his recent psychiatric leave. A murdered teenager, dismembered and found in a dumpster puts him through the mill. He has a lot to prove and minimal support from his colleagues but he is determined to show them all that he can handle the job.

Truth Lies Bleeding, a police procedural, is a bit of a departure for Tony Black who, until now, has written a series of PI novels starring Gus Dury, an alcoholic ex-journalist turned crime-fighter. Brennan isn't as likeable a Dury, which is strange as one's an upstanding citizen and the other isn't all that good at standing quite a lot of the time. However, like him or not, Brennan is an interesting character and Truth Lies Bleeding is Black's most cereberal novel to date. The narrative works hard to present the tangle of thoughts and emotions that haunt and fuel Brennan on his quest for justice and respect (though not always in that order).

Truth Lies Bleeding is a brutal read; dark as the author's name, some of the characters will haunt your thoughts for a very long time after turning the last page. Gritty, urban and heart-wrenching, Black has discovered a darker shade of noir.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Michael Connelly - A No Alibis Event

Michael Connelly
Thursday 27th October at 7:00PM
Tickets: £6
Venue: Ulster Museum, Botanic Gardens, Belfast

No Alibis are very pleased to welcome Michael Connelly back to Belfast, and invite you to spend an evening with him, to celebrate the launch of his latest novel THE DROP, on Thursday 27th October at 7:00PM in the Lecture Theatre of the Ulster Museum, Botanic Gardens, Belfast. Tickets, priced £6 each, are now on sale.

Michael Connelly decided to become a writer after discovering the books of Raymond Chandler while attending the University of Florida. Once he decided on this direction he chose a major in journalism and a minor in creative writing, a curriculum in which one of his teachers was novelist Harry Crews.

After graduating in 1980, Connelly worked at newspapers in Daytona Beach and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, primarily specializing in the crime beat. In Fort Lauderdale he wrote about police and crime during the height of the murder and violence wave that rolled over South Florida during the so-called cocaine wars. In 1986, he and two other reporters spent several months interviewing survivors of a major airline crash. They wrote a magazine story on the crash and the survivors which was later short-listed for the Pulitzer Prize for feature writing. The magazine story also moved Connelly into the upper levels of journalism, landing him a job as a crime reporter for the Los Angeles Times, one of the largest papers in the country, and bringing him to the city of which his literary hero, Chandler, had written.

After three years on the crime beat in L.A., Connelly began writing his first novel to feature LAPD Detective Hieronymus Bosch. The novel, The Black Echo, based in part on a true crime that had occurred in Los Angeles , was published in 1992 and won the Edgar Award for Best First Novel by the Mystery Writers of America. Connelly has followed that up with 18 more novels. His books have been translated into 31 languages and have won the Edgar, Anthony, Macavity, Shamus, Dilys, Nero, Barry, Audie, Ridley, Maltese Falcon (Japan), .38 Caliber (France), Grand Prix (France), and Premio Bancarella (Italy) awards.

Michael lives with his family in Florida.

Harry Bosch is facing the end of the line. He's been put on the DROP - Deferred Retirement Option Plan - and given three years before his retirement is enforced. Seeing the end of the mission coming, he's anxious for cases. He doesn't have to wait long. First a cold case gets a DNA hit for a rape and murder which points the finger at a 29-year-old convicted rapist who was only eight at the time of the murder. Then a city councilman's son is found dead - fallen or pushed from a hotel window - and he insists on Bosch taking the case despite the two men's history of enmity. The cases are unrelated but they twist around each other like the double helix of a DNA strand. One leads to the discovery of a killer operating in the city for as many as three decades; the other to a deep political conspiracy that reached back into the dark history of the police department.

The event will take place in the Lecture Theatre in the Ulster Museum. Entrance will be gained through the Stranmillis Road entrance (opposite Cafe Conor).

One third of the tickets for this event are already gone. To avoid disappointment, we recommend that you book your ticket now, by emailing David, or calling the shop on 9031 9607.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Brian McGilloway on Point

Another day, another blurb. Brian McGilloway made me smile on this grey, dreary, damp day in Belfast.

"The Point is the real deal -- the writing is razor sharp, the characters engaging, the ending a blast. From start to finish it's true Northern Noir, crafted with style and wit." - Brian McGilloway

Brian's work is top notch, especially his latest offering, Little Girl Lost, which just about broke my black heart. As with the previous blurbs I've received for The Point, I've been reading this one over and over and pinching myself to make sure I'm not having some sort of cruel coma dream. It all seems legit, though.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Arlene Hunt on Point

The good vibes are still coming. Today Arlene Hunt tweeted (as @arlenehunt) her opinion on my novella, The Point, and it's all good!

"It needs to said that @ The Point is terrific, scorchingly funny, black humour at its finest and most inventive car theft ever!" - Arlene Hunt

I'm continually bowled over by the generosity of the Irish crime fiction set. These are the writers I admire the most and they're taking the time to read my wee novella. And they actually seem to be enjoying it. It's just awesome, man.

Check out Arlene's website for more information on her books and upcoming author events.

Web Slingin'

My author website -- -- has just been revamped by my old pal, Gareth Watson. His own personal website -- -- showcases some of his awesome comicbook art (such as the image above) and opinions on new comics and graphic novels. Kind of a Comic Scene NI angle, if you will. Hop on over there for a nosey (but visit my site first).

One of the coolest features that the G-Wat has included in the site is that I control ALL the content. So, in the coming weeks I'll be adding new links and some more short fiction. If you want to get in on the link-love, drop me a line here, through the website or shoot me an email.

Friday, 9 September 2011

A Wee Review - Collusion by Stuart Neville

Collusion is Stuart Neville's second novel. Following on from the chaos created by Gerry Fegan in The Twelve (or The Ghosts of Belfast in the US), a police officer, Detective Inspector Jack Lennon, needs to track down his estranged daughter and her mother before they become casulties of the war between Gerry Fegan and Bull O'Kane. But O'Kane has employed the Traveller, a foul-mouthed terminator, to 'take care of' all the players involved in his feud with Fegan. So Lennon has to untangle the web of lies and collusion that leads to his daughter before the Traveller can track them down.

Neville proves yet again that he is a writer to be reckoned with. His writing style pulls no punches and he is a master of creating tension. This Belfast thriller will take hold of you like a fire ravaging a stately home. Brutal, ruthless, breathtaking... Collusion is a blistering read.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Adrian McKinty on Point

Got a most welcome email from Adrian McKinty this morning sharing his thoughts on my novella, The Point.

The man said:

"The Point is top stuff. Engaging from the start, the characters are loveable, the story is strong and the pace never lets up." - Adrian McKinty

Nothing could tickle me pinker than the seal of approval from one of my favourite writers. This week I got it from two of my favourite writers! Everything's coming up Milhouse at the moment.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Ken Bruen on Point

The publication date of my novella, THE POINT, is getting closer. It’s due out on the 31st October 2011 and it’s really just starting to sink in that I’m going to have an actual book to plug that I wrote myself (as opposed to plugging Requiems which in my mind isn’t really my book but that of the contributors).

Anyway, to get a bit of a head start on said plugging I thought I’d share the blurb I received from, Ken Bruen. He said:

“Brian and Paul Morgan would be a Coen Brothers dream, via Belfast.
But our shifty small time crooks have to get out of Dodge and fast and take their shabby hilarious act to Warrenpoint...
The Point.
Hooking up with the lethal Rachel.
And a mad Mick in every sense, hot on their cider-ed trail.
What a joy of a novel, with a perfectly timed setting of unexpected violence every six pack of Special Brew or so.
And the book is moving in ways that sneak up on you.
The ending is pitch perfect, a Mexican stand off that is NI to its complex core.
Gerard Brennan grabs the mantle of the new mystery prince of NI and the appeal of the novel is wide ranging as it is peppered with the Belfast wit.” - Ken Bruen

Needless to say, I’m floored. I mean, this is Ken “GODFATHER OF IRISH CRIME FICTION!!!” Bruen we’re talking about here! And he’s writing about my wee novella… the mind boggles.

Just wow, man.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Friday, 2 September 2011

Another Fine Night

Yesterday I attended the No Alibis launch of John Connolly's The Burning Soul and Alan Glynn's Bloodland with a musical intro from the uber-talented Isobel Anderson. The authors drew such a crowd that David Torrans had to pull a few strings and get the event moved to the Crescent Arts Centre for the sake of public safety. And I'd wager that every person who showed up enjoyed the evening as much as I did

I've been to a number of John Connolly readings and he was as charismatic and entertaining as usual. His talk raised more than a handful of chuckles, though it was a few shades darker than his usual quasi-stand up routine. But it was a fitting tone, considering the hard-hitiing nature of his latest tome

Alan Glynn read two stand-out passages from Bloodland. He fared very well in the company of the seasoned Connolly and his excerpts drew perfect responses from the tuned-in audience. What really made my night was his introduction, though. He quoted from my review of his most recent offering! Little hat-tips like that can be a powerful motivator to continue my often waning mission to spread the word about the quality Irish crime fiction that is out there. I was chuffed to bits

David Torrans then hosted an interview with the scribes that covered a range of subjects. From Alan Glynn's Hollywood experiences on the set of Limitless to John Connolly's eye-opening episodes amongst the London Irish in the years he worked as a journalist, the content was far-reaching, to say the least. What really captured my imagination was the subject of violence in crime fiction and the degrees of responsibility utilised within the genre. Fascinating stuff.

Author spotters would have been delighted to see Stuart Neville and Brian McGilloway in the audience.

Can't wait for the next event!

Thursday, 1 September 2011

No Alibis Event - John Connolly and Alan Glynn

No Alibis are very pleased to invite you to celebrate the launch of John Connolly's latest Charlie Parker novel, THE BURNING SOUL, and Alan Glynn's latest novel, BLOODLAND, on Thursday 1st September at 6:00PM. A musical introduction will be provided by Isobel Anderson.

Please note: due to unprecedented demand for this event, it will now take place in the Crescent Arts Centre, rather than the shop. If you have already booked a spot, you do not need to do so again, as we have already transferred the reservations.

Randall Haight has a secret: when he was a teenager, he and his friend killed a 14-year-old girl.

Randall did his time and built a new life in the small Maine town of Pastor's Bay, but somebody has discovered the truth about Randall. He is being tormented by anonymous messages, haunting reminders of his past crime, and he wants private detective Charlie Parker to make it stop.

But another 14-year-old girl has gone missing, this time from Pastor's Bay, and the missing girl's family has its own secrets to protect. Now Parker must unravel a web of deceit involving the police, the FBI, a doomed mobster named Tommy Morris, and Randall Haight himself.

Because Randall Haight is telling lies...

A private security contractor loses it in the Congo, with deadly consequences, while in Ireland the ex-prime minister struggles to write his memoir.

A tabloid star is killed in a helicopter crash and three years later a young journalist is warned off the story.

As a news story breaks in Paris, a US senator prepares his campaign to run for office.

What links these things and who controls what we know? With echoes of John Le CarrĂ©, 24 and James Ellroy, Alan Glynn has written another crime novel of and for our times – a ferocious thriller that moves from Dublin to New York via West Africa, and thrillingly explores the legacy of corruption in big business, the West’s fear of China, the fate of ex-military, the role of back room political players, and the quick fix of online news.

Alan Glynn is a graduate of Trinity College Dublin, where he studied English Literature, and has worked in magazine publishing in New York and as an EFL teacher in Italy. His second novel, Winterland, was published to huge acclaim in 2009, while his first novel The Dark Fields was released as the film Limitless - starring Bradley Cooper and Robert DeNiro - in Spring 2011.

Isobel Anderson will be providing a musical introduction to the evening.

As usual with John's event, we expect this one to be extremely popular, so please do book a spot to avoid disappointment. Book your spot now, by emailing David, or calling the shop on 9031 9607.