Sunday, September 15, 2019

My Interview w Salman Rushdie

my interview with Salman Rushdie in the Irish Times, apologies about the formatting here, I just could not get this to quite cut and paste w total verisimilitude....

I’m up on the 23rd floor of a building in midtown Manhattan. It’s the sleek conference room at Salman Rushdie’s agent’s office. I’ve arrived early for the interview and have laid out my voice recorder, a copy of his new novel, Quichotte, and a list of questions. I’ve circled the words “mastodons” and “New York Yankees”.
I’m nervous. I’ve interviewed and talked to many writers, but Rushdie is different. I liked Salman Rushdie before he was Salman Rushdie. I liked Rushdie when I was a 10-year-old kid and I found an interesting new English science-fiction writer in the library whose first novel, Grimus, was a wee bit JG Ballard, a wee bit Angela Carter and a wee bit something entirely sui generis.
Rusdhie is smaller than you’re expecting, with an impish, intelligent smile, and there’s something Tolkienesque about him that you can’t quite put your finger on
Then came Midnight’s Children, the first literary-fiction novel I had read that wasn’t boring as all hell. I’ve been on the ride for every book since. My favourites are probably The Ground Beneath Her Feet, a version of the Beatles story on a parallel Earth with an Indian John Lennon, and, actually, this new one: Quichotte, a comic, very contemporary reimagining of Don Quixote.
Rushdie comes in at exactly 11am; we shake hands, and he sits down opposite. He looks good. He’s 72, but you would have guessed early 60s. He’s wearing a loose-fitting shirt and trousers, ideal for a New York summer. He has a well-trimmed greying goatee and dark, darting observant eyes. He’s smaller than you’re expecting, maybe 5ft 8in. He has an impish, intelligent smile and there’s something elven or Tolkienesque about him that you can’t quite put your finger on.
He looks relaxed and happy.
He says he’s just back from his summer holidays in Rome, where he visited the Protestant Cemetery.
“You said hello to Keats and Shelley?” I ask.
“And Gramsci, who seems to have got in there through his Russian Orthodox wife.”
“Did you, like Oscar Wilde, wail and prostrate yourself fully on the ground before Keats’s grave?”
Rushdie laughs. “No, not quite. That wouldn’t be very English.”
“Ah, so you consider yourself English still?”
“No, actually not really, I’m like a lot of people these days with a fluid identity.” He talks about being not quite American, English or Indian yet somehow all three.
I get the impression that a lot of people tell Rushdie they are big fans but that, after a little interrogation, he discovers that they haven’t actually read his stuff
I offer him congratulations on his Booker longlisting for Quichotte and ask whether awards still matter to him. He says they do, especially as it’s so long since any book of his was recognised by the Booker judges. I tell him I loved the novel, and he nods a little guardedly until I mention specific parts that had me laughing out loud. I get the impression that a lot of people tell Rushdie they are big fans but that, after a little interrogation, he discovers that they haven’t actually read his stuff.
Quichotte is the story of a writer known only as Brother (not Rushdie’s nod to Anna Burns’s Milkman, which he hasn’t quite got around to yet, but a concept he borrowed from EL Doctorow’s Ragtime), an Indian-American who writes spy thrillers and has a troubled relationship with his sister, who lives in London, and his son, who has angrily left home and is working as a quasi-legal hacker somewhere in North America.
Sick and tired of being an ageing midlist thriller writer (ouch), Brother decides to write a new version of the Don Quixote story, about an ageing Indian-American opiate salesman who becomes slightly unhinged by endless motel daytime TV viewing and grows obsessed with an Indian-American talk show queen, Oprah’s heir apparent, the beautiful, sophisticated but troubled Salma R.
We start gabbing about Cervantes. Rushdie mentions how boring he found Don Quixote until a few years back, when he read the new translation by Edith Grossman. I tell him I found Quixote pretty hard to take until I got to Part Two, which was written nearly a decade after Part One and is filled with Cervantes’s complaints about people ripping him off, “and it’s in Part Two that Cervantes and Quixote and Sancho Panza all start interacting with each other in ways I assumed only happened in postmodern fiction”, I add.
Rushdie nods enthusiastically. That’s the bit he loved in Don Quixote too, and it gives “the lie to the idea that the French postmodernists invented that way of telling stories. All the so-called tropes of postmodernism are right there in the very beginning of one of our greatest novels.”
His father changed the family name to Rushdie as a tribute to the philosopher Averroes Ibn Rushd. He was from Cordoba, as was Cervantes’s family. Did Rushdie himself ever do a Cervantes or Cordoba pilgrimage?”
“Not really, but I’d very much like to visit Cervantes’s grave at some point,” he says.
I did just that earlier this year, when I was in Madrid for a football match, I tell him. Visiting the tomb is tricky. It isn’t open to tourists. You have to take Mass at the Convent of the Barefoot Trinitarians, and after the Mass is over you can mill around the chapel a bit and say hello to Cervantes, who is buried in the wall.”
Rushdie sounds intrigued and asks what the Mass entails.
Quichotte is a funny book, maybe Rushdie’s funniest. He has always had a penchant for puns, literary allusions and the like, but the bit with the mastodons had me in stitches
It’s just a normal morning Mass, I say. The one strange bit is when the priest gives the eucharist to the cloistered nuns. They’re partitioned away from prying eyes; each one comes to a little hole in the partition, you see a tongue stick out, the priest places the eucharist on the tongue, it withdraws into the blackness and another tongue takes its place.

Rushdie is chuckling at the surreal image, and it gives me an opportunity to talk about the comedy running through Quichotte. It’s a funny book, maybe Rushdie’s funniest. He has always had a penchant for puns, literary allusions and the like, but, I tell him, the bit with the mastodons had me in stitches. (The salesman arrives in New Jersey and is alarmed to find many people metamorphosing into mastodons.)
“Oh, I borrowed a lot of that from Eugène Ionesco. I was in the play Rhinoceros at Cambridge.”
Was he a good actor?
Rushdie shrugs modestly. “I was okay, I think.”
There’s an Angela Carter vibe to that section too. I interviewed Marlon James a few months ago, and he said that it was Rushdie who turned him on to Carter.

Inimitable genius: Angela Carter. Photograph: Louis Monier/Gamma-Rapho via Getty

His eyes light up, and for the next 10 minutes we talk enthusiastically about Carter’s inimitable genius. He knew her personally, of course, and he tells me several lovely anecdotes, including a funny story about the time she was a judge for the Booker prize and gave him the cold shoulder during the entire process, only to call him on the morning before the shortlist was due to be announced to tell him: “The good news, Salman, is that you’re going to be on the shortlist. The bad news is that you’re not going to win.”
We find ourselves chatting about Carter’s book The Passion of New Eve, and I tell him that I found it so much more interesting than Gore Vidal’s contemporaneous Myra Breckenridge, which dealt with some of the same themes.
“Have you ever seen the movie of Myra Breckenridge?” Rushdie asks.
I haven’t, but I heard it was terrible.
“It’s execrable. However, Mae West is in it, and she insisted on writing her own lines, and that stuff is brilliant.”
Rushdie, from memory, quotes all of Mae West’s dialogue from it, doing a bloody good impression of West’s unique vocal style. It’s so funny I am practically on the floor.
“Gore Vidal’s reputation as a novelist seems to have declined over the last few years,” I suggest. 
“I don’t think it was ever very high to begin with,” Rushdie says. “His essays are where his talents really shone.”  
Pop culture is a big part of Quichotte, and Rushdie unpacks for me his surprising knowledge of The Bachelor and daytime soaps. Quichotte is also littered with references to marquee television, and we discuss Breaking Bad, Mad Men and Game of Thrones.
Unlike most of the rest of the world, Rushdie was not surprised and disappointed by the ending to Game of Thrones, as he thought it was wildly overrated.  He tells me he went on a writers’ retreat in Idaho with the Game of Thrones guys but slipped away to see the house where Hemingway shot himself.
“A tiny little space, it was. Hardly room to swing a shotgun about,” Rushdie says.
I ask about his coming tour and wonder if he’s going to write on all the long flights he’ll be taking. He shakes his head and tells me that he has trained himself to sleep on planes. Yoda-like, he tries to teach me the Rushdie Plane Snooze Method, which I will attempt on my next long haul, although I’m not so sure it will work in the middle seat behind the ubiquitous screaming baby.

Ursula Le Guin, whom Salman Rushdie says wrote one of the few kind reviews of Grimus. Photograph: Dan Tuffs/Getty

A big thread running through Quichotte is the Arthur C Clarke story The Nine Billion Names of God, and we do a good nerdy 10 minutes on our favourite science-fiction authors. For Rushdie it’s Ursula Le Guin, who, he says, also wrote one of the few kind reviews of Grimus. “I remember that review,” I respond. It was on the cover of the paperback edition. She said it was “a rocket of a book”.
“A firework of a book,” Rushdie corrects with affection.
There’s also a big chunk of Tolkien in Quichotte, which a lonely Brother reads in boarding school as a form of escape. “Autobiographical?” I wonder.
Rushdie nods. “I loved Tolkien and Le Guin and every kind of science fiction when I was at Rugby. It was the cliched escape from the present.”
“You were bullied?”  
 “To be a foreigner was not unforgiveable. But to be a foreigner who was not particularly good at games but was also somewhat intelligent. . .” he says, and his voice trails off.
When I look at the clock we’re already well past my allotted hour.
I like complete and utter quiet on a fairly uncluttered desk. I start midmorning, and when I close the door the family knows not to disturb me unless the apartment is on fire
“A final question. What is your writing process? When do you write, what’s your desk like, is there music playing? Your mate Marlon told me he writes with the window open on the ground floor of his office with people walking by and music playing and sometimes the TV or radio on.”
Rushdie seems slightly scandalised by this. “No. No music for me. I like complete and utter quiet on a fairly uncluttered desk. I start midmorning, and when I close the door the family knows not to disturb me unless the apartment is on fire. Not the smoke alarm going; I want proof of an actual fire, with flames and everything.”
I thank Rushdie for his time.
“I didn’t get to two-thirds of these questions,” I say, showing him my cheat sheet.
He peers at the piece of paper. “What’s that one about the New York Yankees?” he asks.
“I noticed that there were a lot of baseball references in the novel and quite a few references to the Yankees. . .”
Rushdie sits back down, and for the next quarter of an hour we’re off to the races talking baseball.
“The rotation is going to get destroyed in the postseason,” I suggest.
“I was amazed that Cashman didn’t get anyone at the trade deadline, but I would have been sorry to see any of those young players go. Gio Urshela has been a revelation this year. Will Andujar even make the team when he comes back from the IL?” he says.
Rushdie’s knowledge of baseball lore is deep. He loves the zero-sum statistical aspect of the sport, which is so similar to cricket. And he rejects utterly the notion that the Mets are the more blue-collar of New York’s teams. “That’s completely false. The New York Times did an analysis of this a few years ago. The Yankees have a larger blue-collar fan base. The Yankees draw from Harlem, the Bronx, Washington Heights and northern New Jersey.”
He regularly goes to games with Don DeLillo and Paul Auster.
I suppose he sits in a box.
“No! Absolutely not! We’re going tonight to the Cleveland game. We sit down the third-base line.”
We’re still talking baseball as we head down the hall towards the elevators. “None of this is going to make the piece,” I tell him. “All this baseball stuff? My editor will think I’ve gone crazy.”
Rushdie smiles.
”Well, you could tell him or her that, like Quixote, sometimes it’s the crazy stuff that reveals an essential truth,” he says as we depart

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Plum Island

A few weeks ago CBS did a little piece on me and The Chain. I don't think I'm particularly interesting but if you've read the book and you want to know what Plum Island looks like (yes it is a real place) there are some really good shots here:

Friday, July 26, 2019

We didn't make it but all is good...

We tried our best. We couldn't get The Chain on the Tonight Show but a huge thank you to everyone
who voted for me and best of luck to all the other books that were featured on the show.

I've had a lot of people on twitter saying they feel bad for me. Please don't feel bad for me. I am so lucky.

Two years ago I was broke, homeless and an ex writer. Now I'm writing again, my kids are happy, my wife has a new job and everything is great. This is all a huge bonus to me. I am a very very lucky guy. I am playing with house money. And I thank you all for your support through the tough times and now that things are starting to look up.

I owe my readers everything and I am lucky to have you guys and gals on my team.

If you want to continue to support me and my books you can leave me a review on amazon or good reads or audible or tell a friend about my books or ask your bookshop to carry them. Or just chill and live a good life and be kind.

Anyway its been an awesome and humbling ride and I sincerely thank you all.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Vote For Me To Be On The Tonight Show!

Wow, this has come out of left field...

If you're a regular reader of this blog you'll know where I was just over 2 years ago when I had decided to quit writing for good and focus on providing for my family. 

I had tried being a full time writer and it hadn't worked out and one thing had to led to another and we'd been evicted from our house, and I decided to call it quits. This article in the Guardian explains all of that

Well, thanks to my friends and family and particularly to Don Winslow and Shane Salerno I started writing again and now this new book of mine has amazingly been selected to the shortlist as one of Jimmy Fallon's Summer Reads. You vote for your favourite book (as often as you want) and if enough people vote for me I get to go on the Tonight Show and talk about my books! 

You can vote for my novel The Chain on this link here.

Like I say you are encouraged to vote as often as you want. (My mum back in Belfast voted twice for the wrong book.) 

I'll be sure to thank every one on person on National Television!

thank you. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

The Chain is out today!

Whoa, 2 years in the making and finally its here... my novel The Chain is released in every English
speaking market today July 9th.*

Please check it out and if sounds like your sort of thing well then do get yourself a copy. And if you like it oh my goodness I'd be so happy if you left me a review on Amazon or Goodreads or wherever you like to leave reviews.

Finally, if you are in Scottsdale tonight I'll be launching The Chain at Poisoned Pen bookstore with the great Diana Gabaldon.

Thank you folks for sticking by me and my apologies for what has been a LONG gap between books.

Hopefully Duffy 7 will be up next...

*(Except of course the Isle of Man where it will NOT be on sale because of a bad experience I had there in the eighth grade.)**

** I kid! I love the Isle of Man! It's the best.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

My full interview with James Ellroy from last week's Crime Reads

I’m interviewing James Ellroy over lunch in half an hour and I realize I have already miscalculated. We’re meeting at Gallagher’s Steak House in Mid-Town, New York and I have decided to walk from my apartment on the Upper West Side to clear my head and think of some really interesting questions that he hasn’t been asked a million times before. It is however already 80 degrees Fahrenheit with a humidity level that makes it feel much warmer. I’m wearing my bog standard black jeans with black DM’s, a suicidal sartorial choice for a Belfast boy. Back home in Northern Ireland people start fainting and complaining about the heat when it gets into the low 60’s.
Born and bred in Los Angeles and a famous writer for over two decades, I imagine Ellroy is used to all kinds of heat. Used also to interviewers showing up flustered, sweaty and maybe a little bit panicky. Ellroy’s reputation precedes him. There are numerous reported incidents of him not suffering fools gladly. There was that time when he heckled a documentary about his own life at the premier and he has abruptly terminated interviews for tardiness or because the interviewer was poorly prepared.
As it happens I arrive at Gallagher’s Steak House on West 52nd Street before Ellroy. I get a quiet table in the corner and order a Moscow Mule (vodka, lime juice, ginger & ginger beer) as a restorative. It hits the spot, and as I’m searching for my list of questions, Ellroy comes in looking lean and tall and hungry. He’s 71 years old and casually dressed but he looks younger and sharper, and if you didn’t know, you’d peg him as a philosophy professor, perhaps in his early sixties.
“Hey Adrian, good to meet you,” he says, shaking my hand. “I gotta hit the can.”
“Can I order you a drink in the meantime?”
“Just black coffee,” he says.
Ellroy doesn’t drink anymore, having had substance abuse and alcohol problems in his teens and twenties. His parents both were drinkers. Alcohol destabilized their marriage and in his memoir My Dark Places and in other essays he describes his mother’s rages and melancholy promiscuity when under the influence. Her still-unsolved rape and murder when he was ten years old was, of course, a critical turning point in young James’s life.
Back from the bathroom, Ellroy scans the menu and orders a dozen clams and a salad he makes up himself. I settle for the safer bet of a club sandwich.
“So what about you. They say you’re from Belfast, is that right?” he asks.
“Yes that is right.”
“I’m just back from the UK and Ireland. You know, I think I prefer Belfast to Dublin. Something about the people, something about the vibe,” he says and smiles.
I know he’s not kissing up. He never kisses up. If there’s one thing that Ellroy is famous for telling, it’s for telling it straight. “I read the review you wrote of This Storm in The Guardian. I never read reviews but they gave it to me when I was there so I had to read it.”
“Well you actually read the book so that’s something. You wouldn’t believe how many people come to interview me or who review my stuff and they only read the first 100 pages, you can tell. It’s lazy and unprofessional. I liked the thing you said in the review about David Peace. He’s good.”
This takes me aback. The night before I’d been trawling through other Ellroy interviews where he talks about never reading any contemporaries with a few exceptions for spy fiction authors such as Daniel Silva and John le Carré. “What do you like about Peace?” I ask him.
“I like his world. His Yorkshire reminds me of my Los Angeles.”
“Have you ever read his football novels?” I ask hopefully, but Ellroy shakes his head. The image in my mind of James Ellroy in his lair reading about Brian Clough and Bill Shankly and Emlyn Hughes is too delicious to let go. “They’re excellent. The Damned United is a minor masterpiece and Red or Dead is a major masterpiece.”
“I wanted the scale of those Red Riding books to be bigger. I wanted deeper. Like Winslow does in The Cartel. I wanted more from Peace. And as for soccer, I don’t know. The only sport I know about is boxing,” he says.
This opens the floodgates and for the next twenty minutes we talk about the state of the sport, particularly the heavyweight division. He knows one of Deontay Wilder’s trainers and likes him. I tell him about Tyson Fury’s Belfast connections. We agree that the Wilder-Fury was one for the ages. We discuss the recent Joshua-Ruiz fight which he missed because he was in England. He thinks Joshua is too nice to be a fighter but I counter with how charming I found Ruiz to be on The Jimmy Kimmel Show. Ellroy has no TV in his apartment so I’m not sure if he knows who Jimmy Kimmel is. He has no TV, no cell phone, no internet, no computer. He writes in long hand and sends the pages to be typed. He corrects the typed pages in long hand.
“How do you watch the fights if you have no TV? Do you go to a bar?”
Ellroy explains that his girlfriend (his ex-wife) lives in the same apartment building as him in Denver, Colorado. She has a TV, radio and computer. We talk a little bit about Denver. He moved there a little over three years ago; I lived there from 1999 – 2008. I talk about the Beats and their surprising connections to the city but his eyes are glazing over and I can tell Ellroy couldn’t care less about the Beats. I ask him about Kerouac, Burroughs et. al. and he confirms that he doesn’t rate them as writers or as people. “Immoral and self centered and dull,” he says.
He asks me what I thought of Denver.
“It was nice. I liked the snow. I grew up in Ireland where we never really got snow. I taught at this private school, there where they got Fridays off to ski. I never skied before so they sent me for lessons so I could supervise the kids. So what do you do in Denver for fun?”
He tells me he enjoys driving or walking around downtown. He describes a monastic lifestyle of writing in the morning, exercising on an elliptical machine, more writing and then down time with his girlfriend reading or listening to music.
“What music?” I ask.
“The good stuff. Beethoven, Bruckner, Mahler, Mozart.”
“I noticed in This Storm there’s a subplot about the smuggling of Shostakovich’s Leningrad Symphony into America.”
“Ah so you did read the book all the way through.”
We talk This Storm for a while. I suggest that Roosevelt’s internment of the Japanese is the moral disaster at the heart of the book which he sort of agrees with. I then ask him why he felt the need to kill two of my favorite characters in the novel.
“It was their time.”
“You let Dudley Smith live to a ripe old age, but you kill these two. Come on man, it’s not fair.”
“And that’s the point isn’t it? To give you a picture of an unfair, immoral, corrupt world.”
We talk some more about POV characters and their arcs and how important it is for him to understand even the vilest of men. “Liberals hate that about my books,” he says.
And yet I wonder if maybe he’s a kind of secret liberal, delving deep into fascist demimonde exposing the underside of America, a project the late Roberto Bolaño was doing in his last fictions. Ellroy is not interested in such conjecturing. He avoids politics and he confirms to me what he said at the Hay Festival, that he’ll never write a book that takes place any later than 1972.
We get to talking about American Tabloid and I ask him about Don DeLillo and he lights up. “Libra changed my life!” Did he ever tell DeLillo that? He says that they talked briefly in Amsterdam at a literary festival.
I tentatively discuss class in American fiction. He worked full time as a golf caddy until his fifth book and I ask him if American letters is perhaps too full of rich kids who graduate from expensive MFA programs with an elegant prose style and nothing much to say. He grunts an agreement but clearly to him this is airy-fairy theorizing and he’s not really into it.
The conversation moves onto film. He talks about his love of the actor Paddy Considine and I excitedly tell him about The Ferryman on Broadway. “They have a live goose on stage!” I say as my closing argument and he laughs, but tells me he’s leaving New York tonight.
We unpack our favorite and least favorite movies. He tells me he is not a fan of Tarantino or most modern movies. He hates The Wire. Somehow we find ourselves in a heated argument about, of all things, Billy Wilder. Ellroy can’t stand him. “Not even Some Like It Hot?” Ellroy shakes his head. He explains that he thinks the way Marilyn Monroe was portrayed was sordid and unbecoming.
It’s Martin Scorsese who really rubs him the wrong way. He doesn’t like movies that glamorize or fetishize drug taking, alcoholism or revel in violence for the sake of violence. I wonder if this is a reaction to his childhood or a Puritan streak. We get to talking about religion and he tells me he’s a Lutheran but on his father’s side they were Irish Presbyterian. This hasn’t come up before in my previous research and I’m a little surprised by it. I dig deeper. “Our real family name wasn’t Ellroy but McIlroy but my grandfather changed it because he didn’t want to be associated with the Shanty Irish. My dad too was always saying that if I misbehaved he’d send me to the Catholic Christian Brothers School.”
“The McIlroys were from Ulster. No wonder you like Belfast. It’s an atavistic thing,” I tell him laughing. He’s laughing too now and warms to the theme. “Joyce aside all the great Irish writers were Protestant,” he says. “Beckett, Wilde, Shaw, Synge, not O’Casey. . .”
“Nope O’Casey too, despite the name. But not Behan or Heaney or Muldoon or. . .”
He looks at his watch. We’ve been talking for over two hours.
“Oh I’m sorry I lost track of time,” I say.
He brushes it off. “We’ll talk again, I enjoyed this,” he says.
I look at my list of questions that I was going to ask. I haven’t gotten to any of them. I wanted to know what poetry he reads. There’s an Anne Sexton epigraph in one of his books and I’m a huge fan of her writing. . . It will have to keep.
We shake hands.
His charming publicist arrives and picks up the tab and Ellroy leaves a tip that makes the waiter catch his breath for a moment.
This morning he was with The New York Times. For lunch it was me and now Ellroy’s off to do another interview. He seems to dig all this. To me he’s a classic introvert/extrovert who hibernates for four years between books before enjoying this carnival of publicity and performance.
I fold up my question sheet. I didn’t get to ask him about race or Donald Trump or a clever critical review of This Storm I’d just read in The New Statesman. Next time, I tell myself, I’m going to steer us clear of the boxing.

Friday, May 31, 2019


I am really honoured and very grateful to get a third starred review for my new novel The Chain. This time from Bill Ott in Booklist. Thank you Bill, thank you Booklist and thank you everyone who has taken the trouble to read and review this novel.

Friday, April 12, 2019

My review of Philip Kerr's Metropolis in The Guardian

Metropolis by Philip Kerr review – the last outing for Bernie Gunther

This posthumously published novel sees the world-weary Berlin cop join the murder squad on the eve of the Nazi rise to power
Bittersweet ending … a street in Berlin, December 1928.
 Bittersweet ending … a street in Berlin, December 1928. Photograph: Ullstein Bild/Getty Images
Philip Kerr’s untimely death last year at the age of 62 deprived us of a gifted writer of a variety of books, from children’s to non-fiction. But it was his creation Bernie Gunther, a sardonic cop and private investigator in Nazi Berlin, that captured the imagination of fans across the world. Gunther first appeared in 1989’s March Violets, as an ex-policeman specialising in what Dashiell Hammett called “wandering daughter jobs” around the time of the 1936 Berlin Olympics. The original Berlin trilogy took us to the end of the war; after that Kerr had fun plunging readers forward into Gunther’s postwar career in Cuba and back into the Nazi era.
Metropolis, the last Gunther novel, begins in 1928 with Gunther working in the Berlin police vice department and lodging with four wonderfully drawn Christopher Isherwood types, including a writer and a musician/escort. A veteran of the Great War, Gunther is the perfect world-weary investigator for the glittering, doomed demi-monde of Weimar Berlin. As Metropolis opens, he is newly promoted to the murder squad of the Kriminalpolizei and begins investigating the serial murders of four suspected prostitutes. In a brilliant set piece scene deploying all Kerr’s empathy and intelligence, Gunther enters into an imaginary dialogue with Mathilde Luz, a young Jewish factory worker who was the first victim.
Nazis in the department wonder why Gunther cares so much about one dead Jewish girl – and of course within a decade a million Jewish children will be murdered under the Nazi racial laws. But nowhere in the series does Gunther commit the fallacy of thinking numerically about moral facts, and in a universe spiralling towards chaos his desire to establish a little local order in a sea of entropy is the best that he can do.
When the daughter of a local crime boss is killed, the stakes are raised – and then someone starts murdering disabled veterans, as if wanting to purge Berlin of ugly reminders of a more complicated past, just as a bold tomorrow begins to gather strength. Wonderfully plotted, with elegant prose, witty dialogue, homages to German Expressionism and a strong emotional charge, this is a bittersweet ending to a superb series.
 Adrian McKinty’s The Chain will be published by Orion in July. Metropolis is published by Quercus (£14.99). To order a copy go to or call 0330 333 6846. Free UK p&p over £15, online orders only. Phone orders min p&p of £1.99.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Pre order The Chain here...

My new novel The Chain has been presold in 31 countries and is currently being translated into 22 are what some people are saying about it:

THE CHAIN is diabolical, unnerving, and gives a whole new meaning to the word “relentless.” Adrian McKinty just leapt to the top of my list of must-read suspense novelists. He writes with confidence, heart, and style to spare. He’s the real deal.


This nightmarish story is incredibly propulsive and original. You won’t shake it for a long time.


You have never read anything quite like THE CHAIN and you will never be able to forget it. This book is Jaws for parents. It belongs in the elite company of world class thrillers like Gone Girl and The Silence of the Lambs.

Adrian McKinty is one of the most striking and most memorable crime voices to emerge on the scene in years. His plots tempt you to read at top speed, but don't give in: the writing in THE CHAIN -- sharply observant, intelligent and shot through with black humor -- should be savored.


A masterpiece. THE CHAIN is one of the finest novels ever produced in the genre – I may not read a better thriller in my lifetime.


Saturday, March 30, 2019

my review of The Border from the Sydney Morning Herald

The Border
Don Winslow
HarperCollins, $32.99
American movies in the 1970s tackled the big political issues of the day. Faced with a chaotic world, a corrupt, imploding presidency and a national sense of failure, Hollywood produced the greatest era of American cinema since the 1940s. But that Hollywood is long gone. It's all superheroes and sequels now and we are fortunate then that some of America's best novelists are rising to the challenge of documenting our era and its present ills. In an eerie act of precognition Don Winslow has produced a vast new novel, The Border, that must have taken at least two years to write and yet seems to be about the America of this week.
Don Winslow has produced a vast new novel.
Don Winslow has produced a vast new novel.
Winslow has been writing about the politics of the "drugs wars" since his early masterpiece, The Power of the Dog, in 2005. That book introduced Vietnam vet, half-Mexican Art Keller, a DEA agent sent to Mexico in 1975 to burn the poppy fields and "stamp out the drug problem once and for all". His nemesis becomes Adan Barrera, a central figure in the Sinaloa drug cartel. The murder of Keller's partner and friend, Ernie Hidalgo, and the massacre of innocent people in a Mexican village make Barrera Keller's enemy for life.
The Cartel (2015) follows Keller and Barrera throughout the 1990s and 2000s as Mexico veers into chaos and becomes in effect a narco state slave to America's insatiable demand for drugs. Perhaps 150,000 die in this slaughterhouse and Winslow shows the murder of journalists, cops, women and children with dispassionate, clinical rage.
The Border by Don Winslow.
The Border by Don Winslow.
Winslow's writing in The Cartel reaches new heights and there's a remarkable scene late in the novel when an old caballero attempts to defend his ranch against narco invaders that is written so vividly that I felt I was in the house with him. The Cartel ends with Keller and Barrera facing off in the jungle.
The Border concludes this epic trilogy. Keller is living in retirement with his doctor wife in a small Mexican town when he is offered the post of head of the Drug Enforcement Administration and promised the resources needed to knock back Cartel infrastructure within the United States. South of the Border it is now the post-Barrera era and the various Diadochi struggle with one another to become kingpin of the Sinaloa Cartel and, in a way, de facto president of Mexico.
Winslow's book mirrors real events, with the US suffering a self-inflicted opioid crisis and its biggest heroin epidemic since the 1970s. The Border is an outraged, scathing novel that despairs at America's treatment of Mexico and is furious about corruption on both sides of the Rio Grande.
The rise of Donald Trump has given Winslow a perfect foil for his indignation. In Winslow's fictional universe, John Dennison, a pompous real-estate-mogul-turned-reality-TV-host decides to launch a presidential bid in 2015 by lying through his teeth about his achievements and painting a casuistic picture of how to fix America's problems. Dennison has no difficulty flirting with the radical chic of alt-right racism and his speeches become increasingly unhinged and apocalyptic.
Winslow's Dennison joins Robert Graves' Caligula and Sinclair Lewis' Berzelius "Buzz" Windrip as perfect personifications of Trump. In a plot point that made me choke on my tea, Dennison's son-in-law, Jason, is in a parlous financial situation after a disastrous over-leveraged purchase of a Park Avenue skyscraper. Jason needs money and the banks won't lend to such a dim-witted incompetent so the cartel offers to help him out. This is level-headed, livid satire of the highest order and its claims of influence pedalling and corruption at the highest levels are entirely believable.
The Border, like its predecessors, is a glittering, brilliant, violent novel and it is not for the faint of heart. But it is worth sloshing through the gore. In my estimation Winslow joins James Ellroy, Margaret Atwood, Cormac McCarthy and Don DeLillo as the most acute unpackers of an American dream dissolving into American nightmare.
And as for life on the other side of the border? Perhaps the 19th-century Mexican president Porfirio Díaz still says it best: "Poor Mexico so far from God, so close to the United States."
Adrian McKinty's next novel, The Chain, will be published later this year by Mulholland Books.