Wednesday, 23 April 2014

No Alibis/QUB Event -- Hélène Gestern

Click image for full-size version.

I'm currently reading Eux sur la Photo (translated as The People in the Photo for those of us who are linguistically challenged), and so far it's great. Looking forward to the chat, though I hope Hélène Gestern's English is better than my French; or at the very least that my PhD supervisor, Dr Dominique Jeannerod, is willing to act as interpreter. I say this for effect, of course. Dominique will be there. Everything will be grand!

You can get a copy of this excellent epistolary at No Alibis right now. Why not grab one before the event?

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

An Interview - Mark McCann

Mark McCann is a Self Published Author of hard boiled supernatural thrillers and Co-Owner and Senior Editor of Cult Nerd Website Star of YouTubes 'The BAD MAN Show' he also contributes feature articles to Bad Haven among other online outlets and news hubs - a habit he formed from his tenure as film critic for local newspapers around his hometown of Belfast.

Q1. What are you writing at the minute? 

I just finished up a few horror shorts for an upcoming Horror/Sci-Fi Anthology called
‘Inside I’m Darkness’ and I’m working on a fairly personal novel based on a lot of my own familial experiences called Return of the Scapegoat Kid.

It’s the tale of two estranged brothers and their awkward, painful, manic and mostly blackly comic journey towards reconciliation. I’m billing it as an Irvine Welsh style commentary meets a family drama - equal parts debauched humour and genuine insight into the dysfunctional family unit.

Q2. Can you give us an idea of your typical up-to-the-armpits-in-ideas-and-time writing day?

My day is mostly composed of frantically trying to fit everything in. I come home, powernap, drink copious amounts of coffee, put some music on and settle into my chair with my laptop and get started. I usually write down ideas as I have them and always have a mental concept of what I’m going to be writing next.

I then process those ideas into my loose plot outline until something coherent emerges at the end. A lot of writers have a much tighter structure, but I’ve always liked mine loose. I like to surprise myself with twists that might occur to me as I go, and I find those surprises translate well for a reader.

I’d love to pretend I’m more organised and locked down, but truthfully I’m not. When I get going however, I enter ‘the zone’ and type like a champ.

Q3. What do you do when you’re not writing?

I work part-time for an online comic book retailer by day and up until the last few months I was editor on cult website in the evenings until it became consumptive to the point where I needed to take a step back and focus on my writing again.

I train as a power lifter a few nights a week and I read a lot, whether it be books, articles, graphic novels, comics – the heap. I enjoy nights out to the cinema and the odd bit of travel, but my favourite thing is lazy days with my girlfriend in those fleeting moments when we can just chill out and read together. They are too few.

Q4. Any advice for a greenhorn trying to break into the crime fiction scene?

Work hard, improve your style, take creative criticism well - but don’t listen to small minded or negative people and/or anyone with advice that’s off key.

Trust your gut, take heart in that nobody ever made it by not trying and always finish what you start. But most importantly - never, ever regardless of what anyone tells you or how utterly impractical, financially difficult or unrealistic it may seem – never ever give up! It’s your dream. So it’s up to you to live it.

Writing can be hard, but it’s like Bruce Lee says; don’t pray for an easy life. Pray for the strength to endure a hard one. Truer words!

Q5. Which crime writers have impressed you this year?

This year I’ve mostly been back at the classics - re-treading Hammett and Crumley. But as I write crime with a supernatural edge I’ve always enjoyed Mike Carey’s
Felix Castor series. He makes me feel so fiercely inadequate about my own writing that the competitor in me is continually driven to improve.

Q6. What are you reading right now?

I just finished Markus Zusak’s
The Book Thief and now I’m re-reading Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon along with Peter V Brett’s fantastic fantasy shorts The Great Bazaar and Brayan’s Gold.

Q7. Plans for the future?

Finish my current novel, pitch the anthology and begin the dogged submissions process. And maybe get an artist for a little graphic novel I’m plotting called
That Dame’s Unstoppable! But that’s another story.

Q8. With regards to your writing career to date, would you do anything differently?

I’d network more. Submit more definitely. I have a tendency of wanting to do things NOW! And with the cold mistress of harsh experience as my teacher I’ve learned to be much more patient.

I always end up doing things the hard way and I have a tendency to jump before I look. I decided to self-publish all of my books and didn’t even try for an agent or publisher past the first one, so I think I’d go back and just be more dogged with submitting the first novel while working on the others and improving my style.

Q9. Do you fancy sharing your worst writing experience?

I don’t think I’ve really had any awful experiences writing. I know that’s pretty boring, but outside of my experience as a writer I’ve had plenty of unpleasantness to act as a counterweight. I’ve been beaten up, knocked out, threatened with knives/ baseball bats, almost killed by a mugger with a crowbar, followed home by paramilitaries, threatened by paramilitaries, almost had my head run over by a car (in a motorbike accident) and had a chunk bitten out of my back by a highly aggressive Alsatian. Writing by comparison has always been a positive delight.

Q10. Anything you want to say that I haven’t asked you about?

I’d just like to say thanks to everyone who’s been so supportive of my writing so far, including my dear old mum, my girlfriend, all my pals and the fantastic Crime Scene N.I. And also to give my books a quick pimp: Deadfast, The Generous Dead and The Mog Princess are all available at a great price via Amazon - Hardboiled supernatural horror set in my old home town of Belfast.

Thank you, Mark 'Bad Man' McCann!

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Deadfast by Mark McCann

This is a book I've been meaning to read for a very long time. I saw the first few chapters back in 2010. Mark introduced himself at the Requiems for the Departed launch and asked if he could send some of his writing my way. He seemed like a decent bloke and I had a beer buzz on, so I said, "Go for it, mate," or something similar. I read the first chapters in early draft form, offered some advice and left him to it. In the intervening years, Mark McCann has become a force to be reckoned with. He's now best known as the Bad Man, founder of the geek-tastic mega-site Bad Haven, but is also moonlighting as a Norn Iron horror hack, following in the big footsteps that Wayne Simmons has laid out over the last few years. You'll learn more about the Bad Man if and when he agrees to do a Q&A. In the meantime, this post is meant to be about his first novel.

Deadfast appeals most directly to the part of me that penned Fireproof. But I think McCann pushed the premise further than I managed. Read that as, if you liked Fireproof, you'll love Deadfast. It's a supernatural-crime fiction combo set in Belfast as narrated by an 'odd job' man with a penchant for vampire slaying by the name of Terry Fennell. If Joss Whedon were to set a Buffy spin-off in the wee big city of Belfast, he'd be hard-pressed to top Deadfast. In Terry Fennell, McCann invokes the spirit of Dashiell Hammett's Spade, possesses Bateman's Dan Starkey and sets him loose on the undead underbelly of Ulster.

Upon mentioning the Bateman, I feel it necessary to point something out. My keen investigative eye spotted that Deadfast's cover unabashedly imitates those of the latest Bateman books, but that seems fair enough. I don't know for sure, but if McCann isn't a Bateman fan, I'll be very surprised, so I'm counting the similarity as an homage to one of his influences. Of course, the Bateman-esque, smart-alecy black humour that permeates the novel could simply be McCann's default setting.

For the more nitpicky among you (and I lump myself into that category), you should know that this is a self-published title and McCann hasn't quite smoothed out all the rough edges of his writing style, but what I read was a huge improvement on my first introduction to his work. He's working hard at his craft and will only get better. And let me be clear, bar some minor typos and a bunch of missing commas, Deadfast is pretty close to professional level. Close enough for me to recommend it, whatever that may be worth to you.

If you're looking for Northern Irish crime fiction with a supernatural flavour, look no further than Deadfast. And if you like it, guess what... a sequel's already available! Looks like it features The Saint more heavily. I could write another paragraph about why that's exciting, but you could figure it out yourself by reading either novel, I'm sure. Also, as you can plainly see on McCann's Amazon page, a shorter work is available that looks like it spends more time with Mister Malawkus, Fennell's raucous tomcat pal. I'm more of a dog person myself, but I'm likely to give this one a go in the near future anyway.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Hurt by Brian McGilloway

Brian McGilloway now writes two different police procedural series. His Inspector Devlin series, set in Lifford, Donegal, launched his career. It seems as if his second series, featuring DS Lucy Black (a PSNI officer operating in Derry), has boosted him to higher echelons. And for good reason.

HURT is the second in the DS Lucy Black series and now that I've read it, I'm counting the days until I can get my hands on part 3.

As much as I love the Ben Devlin books, and am eager to read more from the Gadra Inspector, I think Lucy Black is my favourite of the two. Devlin's uniqueness of character comes from the fact that he's an ordinary man, which in itself is a neat trick, but I identify more fully with the flawed Lucy Black. And her flaws became more apparent in HURT. She has her secrets (the fact that her mother is the current Assistant Chief Constable in the PSNI being one) and she has hang-ups (like how she often feels as if she's not being taken seriously), and she seems more unpredictable than Devlin.

HURT's premise is a dark one. An examination of the type of men that prey on teenage girls with self-esteem problems. And then there's the continuation of the major plot point laid out at the end of LITTLE GIRL LOST, which is far from resolved by the end of HURT, but is looking good for some development in part 3. Dammit, when is part 3 out?

Get yourself on the McGilloway wagon right now, people. Though I've a feeling that I might be preaching to the converted. Two great developments in the Derry scribe's career certainly suggest that he's far from operating in obscurity. In recent weeks McGilloway has landed the Tony Doyle Award for screenwriting and LITTLE GIRL LOST has stormed the New York Times Bestseller list. And CSNI congratulates him.

Keep 'er lit, Brian.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Tropic Moon by Georges Simenon

I'm a little frazzled from lack of sleep and the tail end of some annoying virus (infecting me rather than my laptop -- ho-ho-sigh) so I don't expect any major insights to hit the screen as I rattle through the motions here.

I do not blame Simenon for this mood, incidentally. Bet that's put him at ease.

He MIGHT Google this, no...? Ah, a Bing man, eh...? Oh, right. RIP, then.

Really enjoyed this read. Simenon made me feel uncomfortable, impressed and satisfied with a book that had a lot to say about racism. It was first published in 1933. 81 years on and it still seemed relevant. Mind-blowing.

My original reason for picking this up was that I was trying to find another example of behaviourist* POV. Took a roll of the dice with this one. French writer, same publisher as the Manchette translations I've read, it post-dates Hammett's The Maltese Falcon by four years (though I haven't looked into when TMF might have seen a French translation)... alas, this was an example of third person limited (a good example) and not third person objective POV. Still, a worthy read. I'll hunt out more of these romans durs and probably look for a Maigret omnibus too. Some time.

Here's a link to a recent(ish) review of the book on The Guardian website. It seems entirely on point to me.

*a current obsession mentioned and poorly explained in a good portion of the books I've documented since January. I'll actually write a post about the writing POV when I'm more adept at explaining it.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Nivelli's War by Charles Way - presented by Cahoots NI

Last night I attended the opening performance of Nivelli's War by Charles Way with my wife and my nine-year-old daughter at The MAC Theatre in Belfast. I am indebted to the play now, as it provided such a spectacular introduction to 'grown-up' theatre to my first-born.

Cahoots NI presented an intensely atmospheric play that had my daughter giggling one second and squeezing my hand in anticipations of danger the next. The cast is stellar: Dan Gordon, Sam Clemmett, Kerri Quinn, Abigail McGibbon, Bob Kelly, Michael Lavery and Faolan Morgan. The seven actors interact with each other like a well-oiled machine, each one providing their own special brand of magic in a show that relies heavily on suspension of disbelief. But if you believe in the magic, the payoff is more than generous.

Following the tribulations of young Ernst, a boy evacuated from his home in Frankfurt and then abandoned by his new carer, Tante Sophie, in mysterious circumstances, the play is set during the tail-end of the Second World War. German aristocracy, Russian and American soldiers and a snarky hobo contribute to what is at heart a tale about family and honour with a dash of the fantastical thrown in.

Every element of the production team was on point. If anybody missed a beat, I didn't pick up on it. The beautiful piano music, combined with a trigger-happy fog machine and moody lighting, created a world of smoke and shadows with occasional and powerful licks of colour, such as the wondrous image of a simple red balloon.

One of my performance highlights was the lesson in shrugging passed down from Mr H (Bob Kelly) to Ernst (Sam Clemmett). I was also steadfastly captivated by the understated yet mischievous performance of Dan Gordon as The Great Nivelli of the future who served as an active filter to the sad past.

Loved it. I urge you to go see it.

Nivelli's War will play at The Mac Theatre from 4-11 March. Book your tickets here.

Monday, 3 March 2014

The A26 by Pascal Garnier

My first Pascal Garnier read, and far from a disappointment. It was chosen in the pursuit of another example of behaviourist POV (it seems to be a particularly popular choice in French fiction, you see), although on reading I found that The A26 didn't employ a very strict use of the perspective. Thoughts from the main characters were divulged in a number of places, and little was withheld from the reader.

And yet it still makes for an interesting study. At multiple points in the book there is a very definite narrative disconnect. In the opening chapter, for example, Yolande is described as "anywhere from twenty to seventy" and "You would catch a glimpse of her sometimes in a way she had of sitting down, tugging her skirt over her knees, of running a hand through her hair, a surprisingly graceful movement in that wrinkled skin glove." A powerful picture of an aging woman, and very much one from the author's perspective rather than Yolande's. This style of description pops up throughout and serves to present the characters, almost like displays in a glass case.

Especially in Yolande, this style contributes to a separation from the real world. Her self-imposed isolation is tempered only by the fact that her brother, Bernard, lives in the same house as her. But he's not really company. More of an enabler of her strange behaviour. He entertains her, provides for her, goes out to get the groceries that she won't leave the house for. But he won't be around to act as Yolande's carer for much longer. It is quickly revealed that he is terminally ill, and not for this world much longer.

And this illness provides a freedom for Bernard that allows him to take on a perverse crusade along the developing A26 motorway that is being constructed close to his house.

The A26 is an odd little book, but incredibly captivating. It's an addictive read and a fascinating insight into a couple of very damaged people. This is not a story that will provide a satisfactory resolution to crime, but rather it explores how the deeds themselves can punish the perpetrators. I loved it for its ugliness, and will read more Garnier quite soon, no doubt.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

It's an honour, of course... now help me win!

Big Al's Books and Pals have announced the shortlists for their 2014 readers' choice awards, and I've made it into the crime fiction category. Here's how the list looks:

  • Aye, no bother at all, like.

    So, yeah, that's how stiff the competition is. If you fancy throwing a vote my way, you can find the categories here. Get clicking!

    You can read an extract from WEE DANNY on Austin Tanney's blog.

    Saturday, 1 March 2014

    The Getaway by Jim Thompson

    Everything I wanted to say about this book has been coloured by the somewhat surreal ending. But I don't do spoilers on this blog (no matter how old the book is), so that makes writing about this one rather difficult. So let's just say it was a humdinger, eh? Highly recommended, if you care.

    Thompson did a few interesting things with POV in this one as well. Not strictly behaviourist as I've come to understand it, but certainly it borrows from the style in parts to heighten tension and/or intrigue.

    If you want a great read about a couple of charming criminals and the lengths they'll go to to getaway (see what I did there?), and you enjoy a writer with a keen sense of justice, then you could do a lot worse than to visit Doc and Carole McCoy's world.

    Friday, 28 February 2014


    I attended the launch of David Park's The Poets' Wives last night at the Belfast Museum, an event organised by David Torrans of No Alibis Bookstore in Belfast. And it was an excellent affair all together.

    Colin Reid's musical introduction was a hauntingly beautiful performance, despite the 'positive feedback' experienced by his guitar amp for a short time. Check out some of his mad guitar skills on YouTube. I've picked a tune that's slightly more upbeat than those performed last night (thought last night's pieces were well chosen for the venue and atmosphere), simply because it's Friday morning.

    We also heard from Park's publisher (I should have written the lady's name down, feel free to nudge me if you know it). It was a glowing tribute, as you'd expect. Park has made Bloomsbury his literary home for a decade and a half now, and there are no signs that his welcome is wearing thin.

    Damian Smyth from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland spoke for a short time (two pages!) about Park, his work and the achievements stemming from it. Smyth almost stole the show by announcing that The Poets' Wives will be Belfast's 'One City, One Book' this year; an honour previously bestowed upon Glenn Patterson and Lucy Caldwell.

    Then David Park himself said a few words. It was my first time hearing him talk, and I was pleasantly surprised by his seemingly effortless wit and charm. For some reason (perhaps because he doesn't put himself out there that often -- or maybe I'm not looking in the right places for him) I thought he would be rather quiet and reserved. But he made me, and the audience, laugh more than once before reading from his novel.

    Speaking of the audience, there had to be close to 200 people in attendance. A wonderful show of support for a writer that deserves it.

    Belfast Poet Laureate and T.S. Elliot prize winner, Sinéad Morrissey, contributed to the night by reading poems connected to Park's novel; works by William Blake and Osip Mandelstam. The microphone may have played up on her a little, requiring some of us at the back of the room to lean forward and listen a little harder. And lean we did, quite precariously. Luckily, Morrissey's words gave us something to hang on.

    David Torrans rounded up the event efficiently and then supplied me with the novel on my way out the door.

    All-in-all it was an inspiring event, and one that gave me a feast for thought on my 30-mile drive home.

    Incidentally, it was a pleasure to bump into a couple of young poets at the museum. All the best to Stephen Sexton and Stephen Connolly (and thanks for the free magazine, Mr Connolly), both PhD students at QUB, and a dapper pair of gentlemen. They made me wish I'd ironed my shirt.

    Thursday, 27 February 2014

    Equal Danger by Leonardo Sciascia

    At a little over 100 pages, I suppose this should be classified as a novella. It took me quite some time to read it, however. Longer than it's taken me to read some novels. The prose is dense, the sentences long and there is a hell of a lot of telling, and not much showing in those opening pages. Ordinarily, this is the type of book that I would happily avoid. However, one of my PhD supervisors recommended it to me as an example of behaviourist POV, and since that's my current literary obsession (and will likely continue to be for the next few years) I pushed myself to read it, rather than give up after those initial confusing pages.

    Am I glad I persevered?


    It took me about 15 pages to get used to Sciascia's style, and by then it had changed somewhat. With the introduction of the first suspect (the crime being the serial killing of of a district attorney and a number of judges) the writer introduces dialogue. This marks a switch from telling to showing, and the point from which the story became much more accessible to me. I was also able to get a better handle on the main character, Inspector Rogas, as he interacted with these suspects.

    I wonder if Sciascia had started with a scene featuring dialogue, or a more focussed/detailed look at Inspector Rogas, would I have found this an easier read? Probably.

    But that's by the by. In the end, the book won me over, and interestingly, when I flicked back to the start I found the opening pages much more accessible. I'm beginning to think that this read was a good burst of exercise for my brain. And I'll be thinking about Equal Danger (and what I can take from it as a writer) for a while to come.

    Saturday, 22 February 2014

    No Alibis Event, 27/2/14

    David Park
    With Special Guests Sinéad Morrissey & Colin Reid

    Thursday 27th February 7:00PM
    Venue: Ulster Museum

    No Alibis Bookstore, in association with Bloomsbury Publishers and the Ulster Museum, invite you to celebrate the launch of David Park's latest novel, THE POETS' WIVES, on Thursday 27th February at 7:00PM in the Ulster Museum, Botanic Gardens, Belfast.
    Special Guests Sinéad Morrissey & Colin Reid will also be on hand to read and play music. Sinéad will read poem by Russian poet Osip Mandelstam, who features in the novel. Colin will be playing guitar….well, as it is Colin, he will be making it Sing.
    This is a FREE event, but tickets are required, and are now available from No Alibis Bookstore.


    One Bite at a TIme

    Author Dana King has posted a Q&A with yours truly over at his excellent blog, One Bite at a Time. It starts out like this:

    "Twenty Questions With Gerard Brennan

    Gerard Brennan came to my attention through his essay, “The Truth Commissioners” in Declan Burke’s comprehensive examination of Irish crime fiction, Down These Green Streets. His contribution to the Fight Card series (Welcome to the Octagon) hooked me on his fiction, and The Point reeled me him. His sequel to The Point—Breaking Point—has recently been released, and Gerard was kind enough to take a break from his PhD studies to play Twenty Questions.

    One Bite at a Time: Tell us about Breaking Point.

    Gerard Brennan: I like to think of it as belonging to the same sub-genre as the movie Pineapple Express and other slacker-type flicks and TV shows. Notice I didn't mention books? Yeah, me too. Because I can't think of a novel or novella that attempts the same. Could well be down to a deficit in my reading, though..."

    Thanks, Dana!

    Get the rest of the questions and answers here.

    Tuesday, 18 February 2014

    The Glass Key by Dashiel Hammett

    My latest read in the pursuit of tales told using 3rd person objective POV (AKA behaviourist/behaviorist POV) was Dashiell Hammett's The Glass Key. I read somewhere on the internet that this was said to have been Hammett's own favourite of his novels (a quick internet search kind of supports this: Wikipedia - be wary of spoilers), and I think I see why. The Maltese Falcon is also written in this cinematic POV, and in my opinion is a pretty straightforward caper. The Glass Key is a more complex work, and yet many of the answers to the mystery are incredibly simple - in a good, non-convoluted, way. A neat trick to pull off. I guess that's why Hammett is cited as a master time and again.

    The protagonist in The Glass Key seems to be pretty heavily based on Hammett himself (physical appearance, contrariness, shared health ailments) which may explain why Ned Beaumont struck a chord with many, more so than big Sam Spade, the blond devil. Personally, I enjoyed the deficit between Beaumont's hunger for action and the lack of physical ability to get himself out of harm's way. He's as bull-headed as Spade, but more likely to come off worse in an altercation.

    Also, Beaumont describes himself as an amateur detective, a gambler and a political hanger-on at different points in the novel. His self-awareness carries a charm at odds with some of the shitty things he says.

    With regards to the POV, in The Maltese Falcon it basically conceals the intentions of the characters, especially those of Sam Spade. The Glass Key seems to be less concerned with intention or motive, and instead what is held back is personal knowledge and emotional attachment. It's more concerned with longstanding relationships and how they might be affected by betrayal, self-preservation, suspicion of murder... all that good stuff.

    I liked this one a lot, and I think it could well be my favourite Hammett book. I haven't read them all yet, but I will, so I'm interested to see how the rest hold their own as I get to them.

    That's all folks. I should be writing.

    Wednesday, 12 February 2014

    New Neville on the way...

    The UK cover for Stuart Neville's new book, The Final Silence, published in the UK/Ireland July 17th 2014. Will be published spring 2015 in the US. Back cover blurb:

    "Rea Carlisle has inherited a house from an uncle she never knew. It doesn't take her long to clear out the dead man's remaining possessions, but one room remains stubbornly locked. When Rea finally forces it open she discovers inside a chair, a table - and a leather-bound book. Inside its pages are locks of hair, fingernails: a catalogue of victims.

    Horrified, Rea wants to go straight to the police but when her family intervene, fearing the damage it could cause to her father's political career, Rea turns to the only person she can think of: DI Jack Lennon. But Lennon is facing his own problems. Suspended from the force and hounded by DCI Serena Flanagan, the toughest cop he's ever faced, Lennon must unlock the secrets of a dead man's terrifying journal."

    Out in time for my birthday! I want two.

    Monday, 10 February 2014

    Eleven Days by Stav Sherez

    Eleven Days is a London-based police procedural featuring the detective duo, DI Carrigan and DS Miller. It's the second in a new series (the first being the excellent A Dark Redemption), and according to the author's note at the end of the book, far from the last.

    The continuation of the series is incredibly good news, if you ask me. I loved A Dark Redemption, but Eleven Days offered more in terms of plot, character development and incredible writing. Sherez is an intellectual and he's not ashamed of it. He does not dumb down his writing, as far as I can see, and the effect is all the more pleasing for it. There is plenty of room for intelligence in crime fiction.

    Sherez handled the POV throughout the book a little different than most. DI Carrigan enjoys the lion's share, but DS Miller lets the reader in on plenty of what's going on in her head too. There's the occasional head-hop within the same chapter, but Sherez executes this seamlessly. That's not all that easy to do.

    The story is a grim one. There is little hope for many of the characters in Eleven Days. Not much smiling either. But then the book starts out with a burning convent, the death of ten nuns and one mystery victim. You wouldn't expect too many chuckles.

    Sign me up for the Sherez newsletter. I'm an honest-to-God fan.

    Wednesday, 5 February 2014

    From the Blasted Heath Newsletter

    Blasted Heath logo
    Hello heathens

    Good news!

    Breaking Point by Gerard Brennan is:
    • OUT TODAY...
    • FREE UNTIL FRIDAY (so be quick)
    Get it on Amazon here.

    If you'd rather have an EPUB or PDF version, you can download that here

    Breaking Point by Gerard Brennan

    Brian Morgan's relationship with his weed dealer has moved on to the next level.

    Stony Tony is a kung fu enthusiast with ambitions to become a master in his own style. But first he needs to establish a loyal following of students.

    Brian could use some time away from Rachel O'Hare to figure out whether he loves her or is afraid to leave her, although it's hard to focus on anything after a few tokes of Tony's Blueberry Cheesecake.

    Rachel is as indecisive about their relationship as Brian, but she knows that no good can come of a strange little pot-head getting involved in their lives.

    Meanwhile, a goon with a bad ear a big grudge also has eyes for Brian...

    Breaking Point (book two in The Point series) is a 23,000-word novella by the author of Wee RocketsWee Danny andFireproof


    Tuesday, 4 February 2014


    THE POINT is currently free on Kindle. That's kind of all you need to know, isn't it? Go download it, okay? Not convinced? Right, cover, copy and blurbs, then:

    Paul Morgan is a bad influence on his brother, Brian. When Paul crosses one thug too many, the cider-fuelled duo flee Belfast for Warrenpoint, the sleepy seaside resort of their childhood memories. For Brian a new life in The Point means going straight and falling in love with Rachel while Paul graduates from carjacking by unusual means to low-level racketeering. Brian can't help being dragged into his brother's bungling schemes, but Rachel can be violently persuasive herself . . . and she isn't the only one who wants to see an end to Paul's criminal career.

    THE POINT is a 27,000-word novella by the author of WEE ROCKETS and FIREPROOF.

    *** coming very soon -- BREAKING POINT (THE POINT: 2) ***

    What They're Saying About THE POINT

    "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 

    "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 

    …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


    UK (and Norn Iron)
    US (and ROI)

    Friday, 31 January 2014

    Wednesday, 22 January 2014

    A Book of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi (translated by Victor Harris)

    The cover image above (as it did in the version I've read) states that this is "The classic, bestselling samurai guide to strategy - at home and at work." And in parts you could find that with a bit of loose interpretation, that is exactly what it is. If you mine for it. I didn't have the patience, if I'm honest, to read it this way. I did try, simply by re-reading most sentences twice and taking breaks between reads. It weighs in at 112 pages, notes and all, so reading it slowly wasn't a massive chore. And there was a young kid inside me who enjoyed the idea of applying the wisdom of a samurai guy to modern living, I'm not quite too ashamed to admit.


    And I cringe a little to say it...

    I'd have gotten as much from an internet search of "Miyamoto Musashi" and checking out some of the cool memes out there that attribute quotes to him.

    I'll hang on to my copy as I found some interesting nuggets in Victor Harris's introduction and notes. Maybe future versions of the book (I bought this edition second hand) gear Musashi's recordings more towards a martial arts instruction, which I think the translator and (according to his short bio) President of the European Kendo Federation would probably have been good at if given the opportunity to pose for images or provide illustrations. Without the context of samurai sword fighting (or Kendo, as it is practiced in a day and age where it's not acceptable to behead a person on the street) a lot of the text is pretty abstract and meaningless. On the other hand, knowing that these teachings were first written in 1645 is awe-inspiring.

    I should point out that although I have an interest in martial arts, I have never been to a Kendo class. Could be that this book would be a perfect tool for a deeper understanding of the art.

    And if all I take from it is the instruction to "do nothing which is of no use," then I'm probably going to improve my professional and personal life. But I'd have to give my Xbox to the kids. Not sure I'm ready to take that leap into real adulthood yet.