Friday, 19 December 2014

Down Among The Dead by Steve Finbow

Down Among The Dead by Steve Finbow is a novella I didn't see coming. Published by #13 Press (and released on the 13th of December), it's the second in a proposed series of 13 novellas to be issued over 13 months. So, that's fun.

Finbow's writing style is slightly idiosyncratic. He doesn't present his dialogue in the conventional manner for a start. It's woven into his paragraphs like internal monologue; through the filter of a paranoid wreck. This creates a disjointed feel to the narrative which works well for the dual timeline that the subject, Michael O'Connor, relays to us in first person. O'Connor, a Belfast man in the twilight of his regret-filled life, may be an unreliable narrator, but his fears are very real. The scenes set in 2008 see him as a broken man with loose lips, a stark comparison to the O'Connor of 1998 who still half-believes his own Belfast bravado.

On the face of it, and because 1998 was quite a year for Northern Ireland and the peace process, I expected this slim tome to be heavy on the politics. And to be honest, I was relieved to find that this was more of a human story. An examination of regret and self-destruction. The novella really is too short a form to get too deep into that tangled mess that is the Troubles.

This is my first encounter with the author, Steve Finbow, but a quick look at his backlist shows that the unique writing style displayed in Down Among The Dead has been forged by experience. Down Among The Dead is a murky read with flashes of hard-hitting clarity. This is no Micksploitation* shoot-em-up. It aims for better and hits its mark. Touché Mister Finbow.

*Hat-tip to Adrian McKinty, an anti-Micksploitation activist.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

The Blame and Stuff

Every so often I read a paragraph written by a talented bastard or bitch and I feel the urge to share it in a blog post. Today is the first day that I'll actually follow through.

Read this:

"When Donal moved into town he swore he'd go places, The Grand Opera House to watch a play, Ulster Museum to look at stuff, into the City Hall to actually see what was inside. But he never did. He stuck to the back street bars, cobbled alley ways, Kelly's Cellars, The Sitting Rooms, White's Tavern, familiar places with familiar people. It wasn't difficult to order a pint. No mistake could be made. He asked for what he wanted and he got it, and after that escapade in the cathedral, he swore to himself he'd keep it that way."

The above is all the more powerful in the context of the novella. This paragraph occurs around the midpoint of Michael Nolan's The Blame. What you don't get by reading this in isolation from the rest of the text is Donal's state of mind at this point, what went on at the cathedral (a TERRIFIC passage also) and what comes shortly after.

But here, if you want to see Belfast from a less than glossy perspective, get this novella into ye. Nolan (or Micky, as I prefer to call him), has a gift, and in The Blame he shares it beautifully. I'd compare him to Jason Johnson, not in subject matter, or even style, but in brutal honesty and a keen eye for identifying the turds that have been rolled in glitter. I'm halfway through The Blame and wishing I'd hit my writing target earlier so I could get back to it.

Fair play to ye, Micky. Keep 'er lit.

P.S. The story takes place around Xmas time. Now would be a good time to nab yourself a copy.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014


Except it's not undercover. It's at No Alibis book store on Botanic Avenue, Belfast.


Gerard (that's me -- trying to be all official) invites you to the launch of his novel, UNDERCOVER (the first Cormac Kelly thriller) on Wednesday 3rd December at 7:30pm. The venue is No Alibis book store on Botanic Avenue, Belfast, and the book will be £8.99. So you'll have change from a tenner. Not bad, eh? I'll even make sure there's free wine, so you're getting a hell of a deal, especially if you're a dipso who isn't afraid to ask for a top-up.

Want to read a wee bit about the book?

Go on, then:

When undercover detective Cormac Kelly infiltrates a ruthless gang bent on kidnapping and extortion, he is forced to break cover and shoot his way out of a hostage situation gone bad.

Tearing through the dangerous streets of Belfast with a twelve-year-old boy and his seriously injured father in tow, Kelly desperately tries to evade the gang and reconnect the family with the boy’s mother, football agent Lydia Gallagher. But she is in London, unaware of their freedom and being forced by the gang to betray her top client.

As Kelly breaks every rule in the book and crosses the line from legit police officer to rogue cop on the run, the role of dapper but deadly ex-spook Stephen Black means the difference between life and death.

What They're Saying About Gerard Brennan

"A cheeky slice of urban noir, a drink-soaked, drug-addled journey into the violent underbelly of one of Europe's most notorious ghettos, Wee Rockets makes The Outsiders look like The Teletubbies" – Colin Bateman

"Gerard Brennan stands apart from the Irish crime fiction crowd with a novel rooted in the reality of today's Belfast. The author's prose speaks with a rare authenticity about the pain of growing up in a fractured society, shot through with a black humour that can only come from the streets. Wee Rockets is urban crime fiction for the 21st century, and Brennan is a unique voice among contemporary Irish writers." – Stuart Neville

"In Wee Rockets Gerard Brennan has written a fast-paced, exciting story of West Belfast gang culture; brimming with violence, authentic street dialogue and surprising black humour. This is a great debut novel. Brennan takes us into the heart of Belfast's chav underclass, in a story that lies somewhere in the intersection between The Warriors, Colin Bateman and Guy Ritchie. This is the first in what undoubtedly will be a stellar literary career. – Adrian McKinty

"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

"…a Coen Brothers dream, via Belfast… Gerard Brennan grabs the mantle of the new mystery prince of Northern Ireland…" – Ken Bruen

"It needs to be said that Gerard Brennan's The Point is terrific. Scorchingly funny, black humour at its finest and the most inventive car theft ever!" – Arlene Hunt

"Noir from Norn Iron! A lean slice of grindhouse from Belfast's new crime hack." – Wayne Simmons

Friday, 7 November 2014

Valberg Enhanced Ebook

Get yourself over to the Foyle Film Fest website to find out about the new ebook edition of Valberg by Desmond J Doherty, hi. Looks like an innovative use of e-publishing to me. As it says in the programme, the new edition "features atmospheric sound and film inserts produced by Jim Curran and Vincent O’Callaghan. With Valberg author Des Doherty and filmmaker Andrew Eaton."


I am.


Following the wonderful discovery of a little attention thrown my way via Seana Graham's Not New For Long Blog, I figured I should share a few links to highlight the kindness from some early readers of my latest novel, UNDERCOVER.

So, first up, Seana makes me feel warm and fuzzy with her wonderful account of my writing history (from her own perspective) AND a review of UNDERCOVER.

And I was delighted with this review over at Crime Fiction Lover, from the wonderful Keith Nixon.

Tony Black was kind enough to invite me 'round to his place for a wee guest post. You can find that on Pulp Pusher.

And Anthony Neil Smith was kind enough to send me a bunch of one-word questions, and the resulting review ended up on his fine blog. Go there, read the review, tell him his hair looks marvellous.

And before all the above, there was Nigel Bird's excellent early review over at One Man's Opinion.

I've also been lucky enough to accumulate some nice reviews on Amazon. The novel is currently on a modest 5-star streak. See what they had to say on the UK site and the US site.

Thanks to all. It rocks my socks off that the novel is out there and seemingly doing what it's supposed to do; being read by wonderful people.

Friday, 31 October 2014

The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe (read by me)

Happy Halloween, folks.

Ever since the Homer Simpson version in one of the Treehouse of Horror episodes, I've wanted to have a bit of fun with this poem. I didn't do many takes (I think this one was take 2), because a bit of quiet space is hard to come by in our busy household. So, forgive the sound quality. With a little more time and peace, maybe I can do better. We'll see next year.

For now, have a listen:

The image is my own tattoo. This was done by the fabulous Gigi McQueen of Timepiece Tattoo.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

The Bouchercon Post



Yes, affectionately subtitled "Murder at the Beach" this year around, Bouchercon is a MAJOR crime fiction convention that tours America. This year it hits California, baby. I'll be in Long Beach, California(!), in just a couple of weeks. And I need to thank the Arts Council of Northern Ireland for making this less financially irresponsible on my part. They're paying for my flights, thank feck. And yes, I know I'm lucky to live in a country that supports their artists so solidly. I also work my arse off.

Anyway, I'm lucky enough to be on the Noir at the Bar bill (check out the names on the poster below) and to have a spot on the Belfast Noir panel, moderated by the wonderful detective without borders who goes by the name of Peter Rozovsky.

Click the pic for a closer look

Details of the Belfast Noir panel can be found on Peter's blog. The man's been around the Bouchercon block a few times, and I've met him in person more than once, so I know he'll be cool. Plus I've read plenty of work from, and met in real life, my fellow panel members (all through No Alibis, funny enough); this panel is going to be a blast.

I'm not sure about the Noir at the Bar etiquette, but considering that this is my first trip to America, nevermind LA, and that I'll be a jet-lagged, wide-eyed eejit, straight off the proverbial potato boat, I think it might get a little messy.

Oh, Janey Mac, I can't feckin' wait.


EDIT (30/10/14) Free again until Tuesday 4th November.

EDIT (05/08/14)! It's probably not free right now, but it'll not cost you much, like.

This wee collection hasn't gotten a whole lot of consumer love in the last few months. Sales have been in single figures, in fact. It's a decent enough collection, so I thought I'd try and boost its profile a little. So, it'll be a Kindle freebie for three days starting some time tomorrow.

Get some.

Go on.

It's got some nice reviews over on the Amazons. Got to be worth the time it takes to click that 'buy it now' button.

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Incidentally, the collection includes the tale An Irish Possession, which was performed as a one-man show at The Black Box in 2010. That was fun.

Ken Bruen on FIREPROOF

“…Also, I'm in a monogamous relationship, so I don't really agree with orgies."
"Sacrifices and orgies have nothing to do with the religion. All that shit was developed by people who wanted to kill things and shag a lot. That's not what it's all about."
"That right?"
"Yeah. I've been working hard to try and shake that kind of misconception."
"Working as what?"
"A representative of Lucifer. I was s
ent here to build a Satanic Religion."
"Okay. Why did Lucifer think a tattoo parlour was the best place to start?"

“This is just one of the various scintillating hilarious surreal chats in Fireproof, the new novel from the excellent Gerard Brennan.
Phew-oh, GB's début was terrific but this is a huge leap forward, an assured fully-formed artist in total control of his art.
Equally hilarious and jaw-droppingly violent at once.
Reading this novel was a total blast.
Catapults GB to the very first league.
And… you'll never… ever see Cadbury's n' Nestle in quite the same or indeed sane fashion again.
Thanks, Gerard, for a wondrous read.”

From Ken Bruen, Shamus award winning author of Headstone

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Welcome to the Octagon Kindle Freebie

For the first time ever, Welcome to the Octagon, a Fight Card MMA novella, is free to download on Kindle. And it's a UFC weekend! I mean, come on! Just because our hero, Conor McGregor, doesn't have a spot on UFC 179 doesn't mean you can't get your fill of Irish fighters. This Belfast set tale of underground MMA and predatory gangsters will rattle your dome worse than a well-placed roundhouse.

Don't believe me? Here's a little love from the great Peter Rozovsky of Detectives Beyond Borders:

"Brennan knows how to keep a story moving, planting narrative hooks toward the ends of his chapters and throwing in at least one character wrinkle unlikely to have shown up in an old-time boxing story. But what may have impressed me most is his engagement with MMA, a sport until now shoved somewhere back in my consciousness next to street luge, half-pipe, and bicycle motocross. MMA is compounded of styles and techniques taken from many fighting sports, and Welcome to the Octagon is full of observations about the resulting complexity and the demands it places on the fighters.

"Welcome to the Octagon has heart, humor, and respectful engagement with its subject. What's not to like?"

Read the entire blog post (and the fun debate in the comments section) right here.

And get your copy of Welcome to the Octagon at the relevant Amazon territory:


If you want me to add your territory, just leave a comment and I'll edit the post.

Freebie offer ends 29th October 2014.

Here's a little more info on the wee book:


Belfast 2013

Mickey The Rage Rafferty has gone through some tough times, but he's not ready to tap-out just yet. The Belfast widower has to take care of his eight-year-old daughter, Lily. However, his main talent is fighting and the only way he can make enough money off it to support his girl is to take dodgy underground matches paying off in bloodstained cash. Mickey’s trainer, Eddie Smith, doesn't approve. He wants his most promising student to step into the cage as a real martial artist, not as a fool for thugs and gangsters.

With Eddie on the verge of cutting him loose, Mickey is up against the cage – crushed between fast cash and a legitimate career. Mickey has some big decisions to make and some even bigger opponents to face.

The MMA life can be harsh, and it’s never easy ... Welcome To The Octagon.