Sunday, October 31, 2010

Whatever happened to the femme fatale?

Whatever happened to the femme fatale? You don't see her all that much these days, do you? At least I haven't seen her in a while in modern crime literature.

I like my female characters strong, sassy and sharp. It's not too often you find male writers that fully appreciate the smarts of the criminal female mind, and getting behind the eye shadow can be tricky for most men. There are exceptions, of course... Hammet, whose seminal Maltese Falcon lies to the right, was one of the few to get it just about right.

But what is a femme fatale and where does the character type originate? I found this great site with all things Noir and Nasty explained as simply as can be... check it out for yourself...

Her origins date back to the Middle Ages and Christianity: a female demon, known as a succubus, was thought to visit men whilst they slept, seduce them and steal their souls - much like our nice 'modern' femme fatale, at least in theory.
So - finally - something we have the church to thank for... a sexual predator that leads honest men astray.... who'd a thunk, eh?

To my female readers I will say this... I promise to be a better man and do justice to the devious  mind of the female of the species. For without the femme fatale there can be no hardboiled hero.

Let's celebrate our lying ladies and devious dames, our borderline broads and victimless vixens...

Hats off!

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Hunter and the hunted...

I love Ed McBain, or Evan Hunter to use his real name. I've read nearly all of his 87th Precinct crime novels and to be honest, I have yet to read his equal in the police procedural genre. This guy has been writing for what seems like centuries and it just gets better.

If you like your cops smart and troubled, your crooks bent and dodgy, your women alluring and unobtainable (occasionally) then I'd recommend dipping your tootsies in the waters of the 87th Precinct.

These stories are from when cops were still cops - not scientists or college graduates - just hard men with the law behind them and a small monthly paycheck for their troubles.

The man turned me to crime, what can I say....

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Crime Ink - those notorious bastards in print....

It's not every day that you get the main criminal profiles from a nation all gathered together and in one place, so to speak, at the same time.

In this collection of interviews by renowned Irish investigative journalist Jason O'Toole, we meet all the usual suspects and get to hear the story from their point of view.

Highly recommended - easy to dip in and out and a real insight into the minds of the people we like to write about :)

Pain Management from the man with the eye-patch

I'm one of those readers/writers that loves the underbelly of our wonderful fluffy and consumerist world. Just knowing that it is there, ready to bite your hand when you least expect it, gives me goosebumps.
Andrew Vachss is a great writer. His ability to draw the reader into his underworld of abuse and a parallel universe of runaways is second to none. Thanks to him and his ilk you can get the necessary constant reminder that trouble is right around the corner if you know what you are looking for, and if you ain't looking for it, just wait a while - it'll most surely find you....

In this great 'Burke' novel Vachss once again does his thing in consummate style, sending his anti-hero out after a runaway teen in the mean streets of Portland, Oregon.

As harboiled noir goes, this is brass knuckles and baby faces. Excellent book! I read it in two sittings....

The Republican: An Irish Civil War Story

Just had a very nice review of my Historical Faction novel, The Republican: An Irish Civil War Story, over on the Irish Story Blog/Web site.
You can find it  here.

Here's a wee snippet to whet your proverbial whistle...
The depiction of the Republicans as young, determined but not terribly clear about where they were headed, is a fairly good representation of what actually happened. O’Rourke has clearly done his homework and many of the set-piece events of the civil war are here.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Irish Crime writing is amazing!

Of course, I would say that.... but I mean it. And I'm not talking about my own work here...
Have a look here: Irish Crime on Amazon. You'll find a long list of great books by Irish crime writers of high repute.

Some of my favourite Irish crime writers, include, Declan Hughes, Ken Bruen, Seamus Smyth, Allan Guthrie, Adrian McGinty, Declan Burke, Benjamin Black, John Connolly... the list goes on and on....

Here's one to consider for starters...

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Mirror Mirror on the wall - who needs a good seeing to?

I've prepared a new cover for my erotic short story, Mirror Mirror, which first appeared in print in the 2006 Short Story anthology Off the Edge: A Freefall into Modern Irish Literature.
Someone asked me what it was about, as the original product description was a bit on the short side, so I've attempted top update the product description. Here goes....

Mirror Mirror is an erotic and psychological exploration of self and the boundaries between people, centered on a man and a call girl. The question it attempts to approach is: how close is too close? What can you learn from a distance that you cannot in the sexual act? Are our relationships with others more about self-knowledge, or the desire to feel less alone?

This short story does not provide any answers, just some questions. It is not pornographic, but it is mildly erotic, if you like that kind of thing...

The Unquiet by John Connolly

I began reading The Unquiet a few weeks back. Great book and in the tradition of 'Every Dead Thing', Connolly is taking us on a journey of shadows that move from oddly menacing to chilling, with the odd laugh in between.

Connolly's strong point is his ability to move the story along at a beautiful pace whilst building up the tension and bringing on those subterranean clouds of his.

Angel and Louis make another entertaining appearance in this Charlie Parker novel, complete with their continuous stream of one-liners. They must be the most interesting and off-beat characters to ever grace the pages of a mainstream crime novel of this caliber.

The plot centres on a woman who is being harassed by a known felon and his connection to her father, a missing child psychologist. Including child abuse, insane criminals, off-beat thugs and the social mores of New England society, The Unquiet connects the dots between the lower echelons and those that proclaim to be worthy of higher things.

Great book, as ever, from our man, John!

Impact of the eBook reader on the publishing business

Some of my early works are now available via Amazon Kindle and I've been amazed at how straightforward and instant the publishing process is using this channel.

I remember in 2000 a company called ePublish Ltd. based in Ireland published my novel 'The Republican: An Irish Civil War Story' in eBook format. It tanked, mainly due to the fact that people didn't want to read books whilst sitting in front of their computer screens. In fact the entire eBook publishing industry tanked for several years until the Nook, Kindle and now the Sony eBook reader emerged. And then of course you have the iPad and iPhone and Blackberry, which can also double as eBook readers, once you have the right 'App' installed.

eBooks continue to rewrite the rules of the publishing game on a daily basis, with companies like Barnes & Noble and Amazon claiming huge increases in the number of eBooks sold in recent months and predicting that they will surpass traditional printed tomes in the very near future.

So what effect does this have on the written word? Well, what effect does a Blog like this have, or a private Web site? It's all much of a muchness. Natural selection and effective marketing campaigns will, as ever, separate the wheat from the chaff. Time, effort & capital investment = reward and notoriety. What will have to change, however, is the business model used by publishing houses. Already we see legal wrangles between agents, publishers and booksellers.

Think of eBook publishing as the new Napster, the new Pirate Bay, of the publishing world. People see the money, smell the opportunity but the business hasn't quite found its feet yet. A lot will depend on the sale price of the next version of the Kindle and how fast tablet PCs take off I suppose... but one thing is for sure, things are changing very quickly indeed....

Crime Sometimes Pays...

The Big O
The Big O
Anyone who is anyone that knows someone who would like to be such a fella might think that I'm one of those types that likes to blow his own horn (I can't quite reach it) - however I'm not. I've received some wonderful support from my mate Declan Burke, crime author extraordinaire in the last few years, and in my humble attempt to return this favour, please find 'The Big O' above for your personal enjoyment.
There are very few books I will shout out loud about and recommend to complete strangers, but this is one of them. There, I said it. Oh... and if you have the time, drop by Declan's Blog, too, Crime always Pays is the best spot on the Blogosphere for up to the minute news reviews and attitudes on Crime Fiction - both worldly and 'other worldly' or Irish, if you prefer....
Crime Always Pays