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Irish Quarterly Movie Nomin... > Irish Crime Novels

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

Dear members,

It has been brought to my attention that Irish crime fiction is an increasingly popular branch of fiction, and that there are a lot of fans of the genre within the group.

I have only read two novels that fit the description, and I've never felt a real desire to hurry back to the genre.

Am I missing something? Have I been unlucky with my selections? What are your favourites and which novels would you recommend? Which novels would you like to discuss with other group members?

Jump in now, and let's get the discussion going.

Declan. :)


message 2: by Cathleen (new)

Cathleen | 2409 comments Hi Declan,
I've read John Banville as Benjamin Black (Christine Falls, Brian McGilloway's Borderlands and Stuart Neville's The Ghosts of Belfast. I think it was also published as The Twelve. I would recommend all three of those, but with some description/clarification. I found Neville's book one of the most memorable books I've ever read, but it was also the most difficult to read in terms of its violence and the whole host of moral, philosophical questions it raises. I will read the rest of his novels, and I have one of his stand-alone novels, Ratlines on my shelf right now. Which were the two crime fiction novels that you've read? I think the "genre" is so broad that there are some crime fiction books that would rightly be classified as "literary fiction," and then there are those that stay closely within the form and conventions of the mystery/detective/crime genre.


message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

I've never read Banville, at all, which is surprising. His works are always being discussed, but there's never been a stand-out novel (at least to my mind,) that I've really fancied.

I do really enjoy a good morality, we is why I love a really good, epic sci-fi, so I've added the Ghosts of Belfast. Graphic violence doesn't really upset me when I'm protected from it by the page or screen, but as you've read a lot of crime I'll be keen to see if it affects me in a similar fashion.

I've read The Midnight Choir by Gene Kerrigan and Broken Harbor by Tana French. I enjoyed Kerrigan's book but I did have a few reservations with it, such as crudely drawn characters and a sloppy resolution. I found French's to have similar problems, too, but I also found a great deal of it implausible and there were more than a few plot-holes in the story. I could probably add Inishowen to that list, too, but it's more mainstream fiction with a criminal element.


message 4: by Cathleen (new)

Cathleen | 2409 comments Allan wrote: "Could this article, by Carrickfergus' own crime novelist Adrian McKinty, get the discussion rolling?

http://m.guardian.co.uk/books/booksbl..."


Hi Allan,
Thank you for posting that link. I really enjoyed reading it, and it made me think about a couple of ideas, not related to crime fiction but to his ideas about contemporary literature and class. There's always the argument, isn't there, about what makes fiction "literary" and who "owns" the voices of literature? I was happily reading Virginia Woolf's A Writer's Diary when I stopped short, reading what she had written about Joyce's Ulysses. She wrote that it was an "illiterate, underbred book...the book of a self-taught working man, and we all know how distressing they are..." (p. 50). (I haven't finished reading her diary, so in all fairness, maybe her position changes over time.) It struck me that her comments weren't whether the book itself had any merit, but that Joyce wrote it, and that he didn't have the proper class credentials to enter the literary world. I know this is tangential to crime fiction, but it struck me as one of the perennial conversations about what kinds of writing "counts" or "who" counts. I do think crime fiction has evolved tremendously from the somewhat romantic (everything gets tied up nicely in the end, and we know who, what, why, and how because Poirot or Miss Marple or even Tom Barnaby explains it all for us) to much more nuanced, morally ambiguous and complex works.
With regard to what McKinty writes about contemporary British fiction, I wonder how he would interpret/classify the writing from Zadie Smith, just as one example? There's lots to think about in that article.
As an aside, I recently downloaded (on sale for a piddly 3.99) Absolute Zero Cool, so now I'm really looking forward to reading it!


message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

Allan wrote: "Could this article, by Carrickfergus' own crime novelist Adrian McKinty, get the discussion rolling?

http://m.guardian.co.uk/books/booksbl..."


It was a good article with one major point that I completely agree with: The voices of the lower class characters are often portrayed very shoddily. This is probably why I don't read Irish, and even British crime fiction. I'm too familiar with most of the local colour to accept the characters at face value in the novel. Most of the crime novels I've read are American, and certainly don't have the same problem with those.


message 6: by [deleted user] (last edited Jun 09, 2013 03:09PM) (new)

I've just added Absolute Zero Cool to my reading list after reading the article, too.


message 7: by Cathleen (new)

Cathleen | 2409 comments Declan wrote: "Allan wrote: "Could this article, by Carrickfergus' own crime novelist Adrian McKinty, get the discussion rolling?

http://m.guardian.co.uk/books/booksbl......"


Declan, it's interesting that you mention that you never read Irish or British crime fiction because you're too familiar with local color. I don't think I've ever read an American mystery or crime novel. (Or if I have, it's completely slipped my memory!). I always end up reading crime fiction from England, Ireland, Italy, France, Iceland, Sweden, Australia...apparently anywhere but the US. I've always thought it had to do with my travel hopes. For me, part of the enjoyment is reading about and visualizing another place. I know that holds true for all fiction, but for some reason, it seems to hold up especially with crime fiction for me.


message 8: by [deleted user] (new)

I've read Jo Nesbo and I never had that problem, either. But I find it funny that you read horrific crime novels set in the countries you'd like to visit. It wouldn't make me warm to the place, I must say,


message 9: by Cathleen (new)

Cathleen | 2409 comments Declan wrote: "I've read Jo Nesbo and I never had that problem, either. But I find it funny that you read horrific crime novels set in the countries you'd like to visit. It wouldn't make me warm to the place, I m..."

That just made me laugh out loud. I never made that connection. I'm usually more nervous about flying in a plane or other more mundane things, like remembering to pack everything in 3 oz bottles.


message 10: by [deleted user] (new)

There might be a Crime Fiction plot in that.

A man in an airport is drowned by the contents of six hundred 3oz bottles.


message 11: by Barbara (new)

Barbara (bdegar) | 4626 comments Allan wrote: "Could this article, by Carrickfergus' own crime novelist Adrian McKinty, get the discussion rolling?

http://m.guardian.co.uk/books/booksbl..."


Good article. I want to reread it and make note of the titles. I love the premise - crime fiction and punk rock.


message 12: by Barbara (new)

Barbara (bdegar) | 4626 comments Cathleen wrote: "Hi Declan,
I've read John Banville as Benjamin Black (Christine Falls, Brian McGilloway's Borderlands and Stuart Neville's The Ghosts of Belfast. I think it was also published as The Twelve. I w..."


I've read the same books. I am going to reread The Ghosts of Belfast which I picked up as an e-book recently after Ted's (he's in this group) great review a couple of months ago.
As far as the question about literary fiction - I'd say sometimes the answer is yes. I remember seeing Ian Rankin and Peter Robinson do a reading together a number of years back and both said they had both worked on doctorates in literature. I'm not sure they finished but I felt vindicated as an academic who reads lots of mysteries.
Years ago, P.D.James said that mystery readers are often highly intelligent with a highly developed sense of justice.


message 13: by Barbara (new)

Barbara (bdegar) | 4626 comments Declan wrote: "I've never read Banville, at all, which is surprising. His works are always being discussed, but there's never been a stand-out novel (at least to my mind,) that I've really fancied.

I do really e..."


I agree about Broken Harbour - completely implausible and way too long. The Likeness had the same problems though I read Faithful Place twice.


message 14: by [deleted user] (new)

I'll add Faithful Place to my to-read list. I hate judging writers on one novel, especially when I can see a really talented writer through it all.

I love th P D James comment, by the way. The idea that crimes readers chose those novels through a sense of justice explains why I know so many people who can't stomach watching the news but love the crime genre.


message 15: by Barbara (new)

Barbara (bdegar) | 4626 comments Allan wrote: "I've read that claim that people who read crime fiction have higher levels of intelligence as well but I couldn't remember where.

The whole idea of crime fiction as being seen as somewhat lesser h..."


Allan, you always come up with such interesting articles!

You probably know that there is a category of mystery/thriller stories that some readers prefer which are books with a strong, authentic sense of place. I find these are my favorites. I've only read one Adrian McKinty - actually it was an audiobook but I really liked itFalling Glass. I have another of his on my shelves.


message 16: by Barbara (new)

Barbara (bdegar) | 4626 comments Has anyone read any Jane Casey, She's Dublin born and writes about a detective named Maeve Kerrigan in the Met. I like her a lot. I will probably read one more of hers that I have on my shelves after I finish the Icelandic mystery I'm reading.


message 17: by Cathleen (new)

Cathleen | 2409 comments Barbara wrote: "Has anyone read any Jane Casey, She's Dublin born and writes about a detective named Maeve Kerrigan in the Met. I like her a lot. I will probably read one more of hers that I have on my shelves aft..."

She's on my to be read list. I heard that there were tornadoes in the Maryland/DC area today. How is everything in your neck of the woods?


message 18: by Barbara (new)

Barbara (bdegar) | 4626 comments One came very close to us and I posted to one of the Goodreads Ireland forums while hiding in the bathroom. Luckily damage wasn't too bad - some trees down. We have power but up the road it's all out. It's hard when it's hot and especially when all the traffic lights are out.


message 19: by Cathleen (new)

Cathleen | 2409 comments Barbara wrote: "One came very close to us and I posted to one of the Goodreads Ireland forums while hiding in the bathroom. Luckily damage wasn't too bad - some trees down. We have power but up the road it's all o..."

That sounds a little too close for comfort. I hope they get the power restored soon for your neighborhood up the road. It's always so tricky trying to get around after big storms like that.


message 20: by [deleted user] (new)

The drizzle kept me cool during our warm, temperate, midsummer sunshine. :)


message 21: by Barbara (new)

Barbara (bdegar) | 4626 comments I couldn't get my son to take the tornado warning seriously. Oh well, he's an adult. Glad to have power so I can watch a DVR'd episode of Lewis.
As for McKinty - I got the audiobook of Falling Glass on special from Audible - I think 5.95 and the book I have I got used, though I don't recall where.


message 22: by Barbara (new)

Barbara (bdegar) | 4626 comments I just picked up his newest book Phantom at the library today. The Snowman kept me reading - I've read several and they've been satisfactory but I wouldn't put them in my top 20.


message 23: by [deleted user] (new)

I enjoyed The Snowman, too, which surprised me. It had some of the typical crime novel clichés, but for all that I found it very enjoyable.


message 24: by [deleted user] (new)

I hope you managed to avoid all the G8 strife. We had it in Dublin a few years ago, and it wasn't very bad but still quite inconvenient.


message 25: by [deleted user] (new)

It was pretty similar here for the G8 summit in the Phoenix Park. The only incident worth noting was noting was when a few hundred protesters tried to approach the cordoned area and were the Gardai confronted them with a water cannon. The cannon was mostly fired over the protesters' heads and the cold weather did the rest. A few batons were wielded, but there were no real injuries.

Queen Elizabeth and Barrack Obama visited Dublin about a week apart and the security operation was incredible... and incredibly inconvenient. It seems worth it, though. Tourism has gone through the roof since then.

Why was the Uni closed? Were they expecting trouble from the students?


message 26: by [deleted user] (new)

'Better safe than sorry' is usually said right before someone takes ridiculously excessive over-precautions. Let the students have their fun, I say.

By the way, I just heard the Obamas are planning a stop down here. hopefully I'll be allowed to cross the street this time.


message 27: by [deleted user] (new)

Hey, that Irish vote is pretty important. He might be back again in fours year's time to muster support for his would-be successor.


message 28: by Susan (last edited Jun 16, 2013 02:45PM) (new)

Susan | 4707 comments I am late to the discussion but I liked the article Allan gave us very much. I found it very accurate. The mysteries tend to appeal to the masses including me. I love English mysteries. My favorites are Ruth Rendell, P.D James, Anne Cleeves and C.J. Sansom. C.J. Sansom writes a wonderful series about a hunchback lawyer in the times of Henry VIII.
I don't particularly care for Americans writing English mysteries. Elizabeth George just had to make her policeman a Lord. Really? I didn't understand that it is still tough for upward mobility in Britain.
I like American authors who write about a specific place or situation. I loved Tony Hillerman's series on Native Americans in New Mexico, Dana Stabenow's lead character is an Eskimo private detective, Faith Kellerman's early work on an orothodox Jew and Robert B. Parkers Spenser's novels with Boston as a leading character.
I guess I like books that take me places that I am unfamiliar with. I like exploring new places and worlds. Crime fiction tends to take me there more often than Booker Man prize winners.


message 29: by [deleted user] (new)

That's quite a list, Susan. Would crime fiction be a favourite genre of yours.

I'm unfamiliar with most of the writers you mentioned, but Ruth Rendall's inspector Wexford wad adapted for TV in the UK. Are you familiar with it? My ma and grandmother are both fans.


message 30: by [deleted user] (new)

That's quite a list, Susan. Would crime fiction be a favourite genre of yours.

I'm unfamiliar with most of the writers you mentioned, but Ruth Rendall's inspector Wexford wad adapted for TV in the UK. Are you familiar with it? My ma and grandmother are both fans.


message 31: by Susan (new)

Susan | 4707 comments I had no idea that Inspector Wexford had been made into a series. I would love to see that. Yes, I love mysteries. My other book club on Goodreads is cozy English mysteries. We are reading Colin Dexter's Inspector Morse now. It balances out with this club. The Irish book club reads heavier books and the other ones are just lightweight fun.


message 32: by [deleted user] (last edited Jun 17, 2013 08:00AM) (new)

Quite a few of Ruth Rendell's episodes show up on YouTube for a time until they're removed.

(In case you're using an app phone, I've posted a link to the thread.)


message 33: by [deleted user] (new)

Allan wrote: "There was all the talk of trouble here, but so far, nothing. Police had occupied traffic roundabouts and were patrolling school grounds etc to ensure protestors didn't camp on either-they thought 10000+ protesters..."

There was a similar occurrence in Dublin. Security companies predicted similar numbers as those that attended demonstrations in London and New York, but that was never going to happen. And over the years, a lot of the more violent protesters have become known to the police and fewer and fewer people can be bothered protesting.


message 34: by [deleted user] (new)

It's a familiar tune, alright. In so many countries in the west, the poorest are usually the most economically conservative.


message 35: by Susan (new)

Susan | 4707 comments There is virtually no reporting on the G8 summit in the N. Calif. media. I have seen nothing on the TV at all. On page 8 of the Sunday paper they had a small story but it was centered more on the physical barriers still existing in Belfast. I had no idea that they still existed but they had pictures of the fences. Apparently, Obama's speech is going to be about taking those barriers down but they interviewed some local residents who said they would be afraid for their lives if they came down.


message 36: by Susan (last edited Jun 17, 2013 11:19PM) (new)

Susan | 4707 comments Allan wrote: "I know I may be getting a little off topic here, but seeing as we talked about it earlier in the thread, how is the G8 summit being reported globally?

There was all the talk of trouble here, but ..."



I am not sure what the prism scandal is. The biggest scandal for us seems to be the IRS where they kept right wing groups from getting their tax exempt status.
Nobody seems to be that upset about the government spying on people's phones, email etc. to get "info on the terrorists" but to me it seems very 1984.
Right now people are upset more that Obama takes no responsibility for the things that go on including the embassy in the Mid East, the IRS, the Secret Service men playing with hookers, or anything. Harry S Truman had a sign on his deck "The buck stops here." Obama seems to have a sign that says "I don't know anything". Really? Why not?
Sorry about the rant but I voted for him and I am terribly disappointed.


message 37: by Barbara (new)

Barbara (bdegar) | 4626 comments Back to the topic of IRISH crime novels :) - I just started The Missing this morning by Jane Casey as I was too lazy to go looking for my library book (the new Jo Nesbo). I am already 60 pages in and though it's around 450 pages, I will get through it quickly. But her detective Maeve Kerrigan doesn't seem to appear in this book.


message 38: by Barbara (new)

Barbara (bdegar) | 4626 comments My favorite in the No Alibris series was Mystery Man. I've read one more and have at least one other on my shelves. When I was clearing shelves today, I tried to group my Irish detective fiction together - most is unread. Those I've read I've swapped or donated.


message 39: by Cathleen (new)

Cathleen | 2409 comments Allan wrote: "Reading back over the previous posts, I've just noticed that Colin Bateman hasn't been mentioned once-I'd say he's probably NI's biggest selling crime writer. What does everyone think of him?

I o..."


Hi Allan-
I'm sheepish to admit it, but I had never heard of Colin Batemen before joining this group. (And she calls herself a crime fiction fan!). I'll have to check him out after all your high praise of him. Thanks for including those that you thought were the best. Like Barbara, my summer TBR list will likely push well into the winter!


message 40: by Cathleen (new)

Cathleen | 2409 comments Allan wrote: "Just a heads up-the 20th June NPR books podcast includes a tour of Belfast with Stuart Neville-it's interesting to hear the interviewer attempt to sum up the 30 year conflict in a couple of sentenc..."

Allan--Thank you for posting that! That was a wonderful podcast, and I really enjoyed listening to Stuart Neville talk about Belfast, his novels, the settings. I wish I had known about No Alibis when we visited N.I. last summer. It sounds like a gem of a bookshop. Two of my favorite bookshops were crime/mystery bookstores. One was Kate's Mystery Bookshop in Cambridge, MA and the other one was Partners in Crime in Greenwich Village, NYC. Anytime I would visit NY, I'd make a beeline there, and I think it was because of that bookstore and Kate's that I developed such a liking for crime/mysteries. As you can probably tell from the past tense, both of them have gone out of business. Partners in Crime just closed up shop last autumn. It's disappointing that those kinds of specialty bookshops seem to be a vanishing breed, but I was glad to hear that No Alibis looks like it's doing a brisk business.


message 41: by Barbara (new)

Barbara (bdegar) | 4626 comments Allan wrote: "Just a heads up-the 20th June NPR books podcast includes a tour of Belfast with Stuart Neville-it's interesting to hear the interviewer attempt to sum up the 30 year conflict in a couple of sentenc..."

Super Allan. I missed this. I'm going to download this and a lot of other ones as I have a 3 and 1/2 hour drive tomorrow. In Ireland that would take you cross country. Here, it just takes me to the next state, Virginia, to a "peninsula" where a good friend lives on the banks of the Potomac River, where it flows into Cheasapeake Bay:)


message 42: by Barbara (new)

Barbara (bdegar) | 4626 comments Cathleen wrote: "Allan wrote: "Just a heads up-the 20th June NPR books podcast includes a tour of Belfast with Stuart Neville-it's interesting to hear the interviewer attempt to sum up the 30 year conflict in a cou..."

I remember Kate's Mystery Books in Cambridge from when I lived in Boston. The local mystery bookstore which was in Bethesda MD closed several years ago. I think many if not most specialty bookstores are gone - the Japanese bookstore near Porter Square in Cambridge MA where I went with my son to buy Godzilla books and magazines ( the secret was knowing how to say Godzilla in Japanese), 2 local children's bookstores in the DC area, 2 travel bookstores in the DC area. Miraculously Grolier's Poetry bookstore in Harvard Square in Cambridge is still open. And there's a poetry bookstore in Boulder Colorado named Innisfree. Perhaps small specialty bookstores will come back (wishful thinking?).


message 43: by Barbara (new)

Barbara (bdegar) | 4626 comments Allan wrote: "Hi Cathleen-I'm glad you enjoyed the item on the podcast- No Alibis does seem to continue to do brisk business alright-it was interesting to hear the owner David talk on the podcast about the event..."

Greenwich village a bookstore free zone? that is unbelievable. But I assume the sky high rents make it impossible for bookstores. The book business is very difficult because there is an expectation that bookstores have everything, which is impossible (I used to volunteer in a bookstore 'collective' in Boston so l learned a lot about the business). Specialty bookstores have it a little 'easier' as the range of books they are expected to carry is of course limited.
Glad I've been a "good influence" Allan. I do buy some books on Amazon but less and less. And though music CD's are cheaper on iTunes, my local independent bookstore carries some and I have made many discoveries there.


message 44: by Barbara (new)

Barbara (bdegar) | 4626 comments I always forget about Spotify. Friends subscribe to satellite radio but I tried for a few months and decided not to continue. It gets repetitive - though they have many channels, each one seems to be a lot of the same, over and over. My son has influenced by musical taste and v.v. Once an artists breaks through and gets too popular, we don't like them as much.

I love the Hidden Belfast tours concept!


message 45: by Barbara (new)

Barbara (bdegar) | 4626 comments I'm going to check out Spotify. I have wide ranging tastes - alternative, Brazilian, good singing.


message 46: by Barbara (new)

Barbara (bdegar) | 4626 comments I think I'll check out the free service though I noticed that only the premium for $9.99 allows listening on all devices and offline. I am paying that much for my email account and maybe it's time to move over to Gmail. But so many people are getting their emails hacked or overrun by spam which is why I have held on to my earthlink account. But with no pay increase in 5 years, I am continuously evaluating services I pay for. I pay $14.95 for Audible and would get rid of it but our library system hasn't yet really streamlined their digital book service - both ebooks and audiobooks either are never available or impossibly difficult to download.


message 47: by Sara (new)

Sara | 2357 comments Mod
Pandora is also worth checking out. The free version works on all devices with only the occasional ad.


message 48: by Barbara (new)

Barbara (bdegar) | 4626 comments Allan wrote: "I thought I'd post the link to Eoin Colfer's new crime novel here. Of course, Colfer is best know for his children's books, but I read the first in this series, which didn't blow me away but was st..."

Eoin Coffer strikes me as a writer who is savvy as to what is selling and writing for that audience. Nothing wrong with that.


message 49: by Cathleen (new)

Cathleen | 2409 comments Allan wrote: "I thought I'd post the link to Eoin Colfer's new crime novel here. Of course, Colfer is best know for his children's books, but I read the first in this series, which didn't blow me away but was st..."

Thanks for that article, Allan. It looks like a fun summertime read, and I'll check him out (sooner or later!). I just picked up a Banville book, Elegy for April, at the local used bookstore that looks really promising, and I've checked out an Icelandic mystery from the local library, Silence of the Grave, by Arnaldur Indridason. I thought since we're heading into another 4 or 5 days of 90-degree-plus weather, I should read something set in a chilly location. :) I'd love to visit there someday; it looks stark and beautiful.


message 50: by Barbara (new)

Barbara (bdegar) | 4626 comments Cathleen - Indridason is my favorite Icelandic mystery writer. On Sunday, to escape the heat I went to see a film of his book Jar City. The AFI theater is having a Scandanavian mystery film series. When the film started, I realized I had watched it on Netflix but seeing it on the big screen was a treat and it is an excellent film. I went to see it also because I got it into my head recently I'd like to visit Iceland and even bought a guidebook. The Iceland of these books is bleak, and their diet is worse than what I remember of what people ate in The Shipping News. I think if I lived in Iceland I'd be tempted to become a pescatarian. I'm not sure there's enough fresh fruits and vegetables to be a vegetarian year round.


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