Declan Hughes

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Just back from New Orleans, where I read and discussed Irish crime fiction with John Connolly and Gerard O'Donovan, moderated by the charming Diana Pinckley. John and I also presented our top ten crime novels, which Diana previewed in the Times Picayune. Our trip was sponsored by Culture Ireland, and it was good to meet so many people who were interested in what Irish writers are doing.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Ten Crime Novels You Must Read Before You Die

John Connolly and I first presented versions of this list at the Dalkey Book Festival back in June, then at Bouchercon in San Francisco, and we promised at some stage to post it on our websites. A top ten inevitably leaves too many titles out, so we threw in an extra ten for good luck. John has decided to add the tens together and make it a top twenty; I'm not so inclined, as the second ten is rather more provisional than the first, and in any case, we differ in some of our choices. Feel free to disagree: we do ...

1) THE GLASS KEY (1931) - Dashiell Hammett

Also: The Maltese Falcon (1930)

Red Harvest (1929)

The Master - the JS Bach, the Louis Armstrong of crime fiction.

2) THE LONG GOODBYE (1953) - Raymond Chandler

The Big Sleep (1939)

Farewell, My Lovely (1940)

The greatest prose stylist in the genre. Romantic, lyrical and witty.

3) THE CHILL (1964) - Ross Macdonald


The Galton Case (1959)

The Underground Man (1971)

Sleeping Beauty (1973)

The Doomsters (1958)

The single greatest novelist of the genre. No one has surpassed him. The Lew Archer novels make most crime fiction look like cartoons.

4) DEEP WATER - Patricia Highsmith (1957)


The Talented Mr Ripley (1955)

Strangers on a Train (1950)

Haunting, unsettling, extravagantly misanthropic.

5) THE FRIENDS OF EDDIE COYLE (1972) - George V. Higgins


City Primeval: High Noon in Detroit (1980) - Elmore Leonard

Looking for Rachel Wallace (1980)- Robert B. Parker

Dialogue worthy of David Mamet, Higgins's first half dozen novels are electrifying, and unlike anything else in the genre.

6) DIXIE CITY JAM (1994) - James Lee Burke


Heaven's Prisoners (1988)

Black Cherry Blues (1989)

Purple Cane Road (2000)

Simply the greatest living crime novelist.

7) RED DRAGON (1981) - Thomas Harris


The Silence of the Lambs (1988)

Hannibal (1999)

Although they form a trilogy, I don't believe Hannibal belongs on this list: I think it's a terrible book. John and I have cheerfully argued this one through many a last orders, and will again, no doubt.

8) A STRANGER IN MY GRAVE (1960) - Margaret Millar


Beast in View (1955)

How Like An Angel (1962)

The Listening Walls (1959)

Like a comic, psychologically acute Highsmith with a lighter touch. Structurally brilliant. Ross Macdonald's wife, and the single most underrated crime writer.



Cop Hater (1956)

Blood Relatives (1975)

Fuzz (1968)

Here begins the police procedural.

10) THE MURDER OF ROGER ACKROYD (1926) - Agatha Christie


The Nine Tailors (1934) by Dorothy L. Sayers

Tiger In The Smoke (1952) by Margery Allingham

Christie is darker and subtler than she gets credit for, particularly in her dialogue; long derided by the hardboiled school, she is ripe for re-evaluation (not that the reading public give a hoot one way or the other: they love her and always have).

And then there were ten more...

MIAMI BLUES (1984) - Charles Willeford

Willeford was such a tough, funny, surprising writer. Read all the Hoke Mosleys and THE BURNT ORANGE HERESY, an hilarious portrait of artistic envy and psychosis (but I repeat myself).

THE LAST GOOD KISS (1978) - James Crumley

Crime fiction's ultimate shaggy (alcoholic) dog story.

GONE, BABY, GONE (1998) - Dennis Lehane

The PI novel meets Bertolt Brecht.

DEVIL IN A BLUE DRESS (1990) - Walter Mosely

Easy Rawlins, the PI resurrected. One of the outstanding series characters of the nineties.

THE BLACK ECHO (1992) - Michael Connelly

Harry Bosch's explosive debut. See also ANGELS FLIGHT, my personal favourite.

THE BIG BLOWDOWN (1999) - George Pelecanos

The historical wing of Pelecanos's great Washington Quartet.

WHAT THE DEAD KNOW (2007) - Laura Lippman

One of the most devastating twists in all crime fiction. A mighty book.

THE BROKEN SHORE (2005) - Peter Temple

South African born, Australia's finest.

DEVIL TAKE THE BLUE-TAIL FLY (1948) - John Franklin Bardin

Genuinely frightening psychological suspense.

THE HANGING GARDEN (1998) - Ian Rankin

Rebus and Edinburgh, a match made in the Oxford Bar. This is the best of a great series.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Irish Book Awards

City of Lost Girls has been nominated in the Crime Fiction category at the Irish Book Awards, alongside books by Tana French, Stuart Neville, Jane Casey, Gene Kerrigan and Alex Barclay. The award will be decided entirely by public vote. You can vote here (scroll down). My campaign promise: vote for me and I'll buy you a drink. I'll be in the bar (and you know that's true).

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Edinburgh Book Festival

I'll be reading at the Edinburgh Book Festival on Saturday afternoon with fellow Irish crime novelist Stuart Neville. Catch us at 3.30 - 4.30 at the ScottishPower Studio Theatre, where we'll be reading from our new novels, City of Lost Girls and Collusion, and talking about crime fiction, Ireland and whatever else takes our fancy.

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Book Review

My review of Room by Emma Donoghue, from yesterday's Irish Times.

CIty of Lost Girls

A lovely review of City of Lost Girls in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Here's something for Bloomsday.

Monday, 24 May 2010

Theakston's Old Peculier Crime Novel of The Year Longlist

The Dying Breed (US Title The Price of Blood) is on it. There are twenty books in all, to be whittled down to a shortlist of eight, by means of a public vote.
You can vote here:
The Vote Now! box on the top left of the page will take you to the longlist.
Obviously, I'd prefer if you voted for me.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Publication Day # 2

City of Lost Girls is published in the UK and Ireland today. Bono is a minor character in the book: he appears in a nightclub early on, is slagged off by a self-loathing journalist, and is later given his (admiring) due by Ed Loy and his film director friend Jack Donovan. I was listening to No Line On The Horizon a lot while I was writing the book. This is one of the best songs on the album: Magnificent.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

The Irish Times review ...

It's not quite like the New York Times review of a Broadway show, where a thumbs-down means you close on Sunday (hello, Enron), but the Irish Times review is the one everyone you know, and many potential readers, will see, not to mention the one in the paper you read yourself, so it's always a relief when it's good. And let's not forget the Irish Independent, which actually has the higher readership.