Courtesy of BBC Northern Ireland and Jed Mercurio, our Sunday night viewing has had us on the edge of our sofas of late.
the imminent return of Adrian Dunbar as Superintendent Ted Hastings and his AC-12 team in the Mercurio penned, Line of Duty, certainly makes sure that Belfast remains a feature of top quality television crime drama.
Of course Belfast is no stranger to being the star of a good crime drama, as no doubt Jamie Dornan and Gillian Anderson would attest to, but it only takes a cursory wander around No Alibis bookstore to see that such excellent drama is not just confined to screen.
From Maurice Leitch’s, Silver’s City, described as the “begetter of Northern noir”, to Colin Bateman’s, Mystery Man series, and of course, Eoin Mc Namee’s, Resurrection Man and Stuart Neville’s, The Twelve / Ghosts of Belfast, it can certainly be said that Belfast based books have been enthralling crime fiction fans for decades now. Thankfully, from this crime fiction fan(atic)’s point of view, the tradition is alive and well, as proven by Northern Ireland’s flourishing Crime Fiction Writing Community. Some notable recent works we would recommend are:
1. Disorder by Gerard Brennan
A darkly comic homage to recreational rioting in Belfast, Disorder is an expertly structured work which captures the Belfast vernacular perfectly. Look out too for Brennan’s newly released, Shot, the first in a new book series.
2. The Rise of Terror by James Murphy
Former Headteacher, Murphy’s debut, the first of a recently completed trilogy puts West Belfast firmly on the map through newbie Private Detective, Mark Shaw’s pursuit of famed serial killer, Terror. Having been described as a “crackin’ story with a great plot containing all the ideal ingredients for a fast moving thriller,” this book sets the scene perfectly for the others in the series both in pace and plotting. Be careful though, Murphy is known to be a fan of shock endings.
3. The Sleeping Season by Kelly Creighton
Book one in the DI Sloane series, this novel does for East Belfast, what Murphy does for West. Through DI Harry (Harriet) Sloane, Creighton presents the police procedural from a clearly feminist perspective which brings a breath of fresh air to the genre. Book two in the series, Problems With Girls is an equally good read and bodes well for the remainder of the series.
4. Who Took Eden Mulligan? By Sharon Dempsey
Just recently released and hotly anticipated, this book, also the first in a series (we’re beginning to sense a theme here) has been more than worth the wait. In a post conflict Belfast, Dempsey’s voice is emerging as an important one in highlighting how we deal with our past and move on from it.
5. The Witness by Simon Maltman
With several notable novels under his belt, Maltman has been described as, “Patricia Highsmith with a Belfast accent.” With, The Witness, the writer, musician and Belfast Noir Tour Guide presents a well crafted, post troubles tale centred around the flawed Pastor Tom and his quest to make a difference, despite what the hardened and ageing, East Belfast paramilitaries have planned for him.
If a Belfast setting is a must then you’re certainly spoiled for choice, but don’t overlook the fact that the Northern Ireland Crime Fiction Writing Community are leading the pack in books set beyond our capital. Lisburn based Steve Cavanagh has achieved global acclaim in the legal thriller genre with his Eddie Flynn series. Other’s such as the maiden city’s own Brian Mc Gilloway and Clare Allan, as well as belfast born, now Buckinghamshire based, Paul Waters are excellent ambassadors of Northern Irish Crime Fiction and consistently demonstrate our little slice of the genre to be in rude health.