Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The next installment is up

The third installment of the Jimmy Kiley series was published today on Shotgun Honey - Infrared Dead. The first two can be found at:

King Canute - Powder Burn Flash
On a High Wire - Flash Fiction Offensive

I've got the next two episodes drafted, the first of them sent out for review. I hope today's shot of Irish noir hits the spot.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Review of Prague Fatale by Philip Kerr (Quercus, 2011)

After serving with death squads in the Ukraine, Bernie Gunther is back in Berlin and working as a police detective. Even more disillusioned with the Nazi regime, consumed with self-loathing, and unafraid to express his cynicism and critique, he survives through bullish good police work, cunning and connections. When a Dutch foreign worker is found stabbed to death on rail tracks, he’s assigned to the case. Shortly after he rescues a beautiful woman, Arianne Tauber, being attacked at a darkened station. The man runs off only to be hit by a car in the blackout. The following day the man is found dead, identified as a suspected Czech resistance agent. Whilst Gunther investigates the case further, he falls for Arianne, who’s working a good-time girl in a high class jazz club. As the case starts to stall, he gets summoned to Prague by his nemesis, Reinhard Heydrich, the new Reichsprotector of Bohemia and Moravia. Some of Heydrich’s Nazi colleagues seem to be plotting his murder and he wants Gunther to be his bodyguard and detective. On a large estate just outside of Prague, Heydrich has gathered a motley collection of senior military figures to celebrate his new appointment. But rather than Heydrich being murdered, it is his adjutant that is found shot dead in a room locked from the inside. With Arianne sight-seeing around Prague, Gunther has the task of solving the case with a house full of military personnel who nearly all out-rank him, and Heydrich playing his usual games.

The four great strengths of Kerr’s Bernie Gunther series is the historicization within the Nazi regime, a strong noir voice, the lead character - a self-loathing, cynical, cantankerous cop with a moral core - and well constructed stories. Prague Fatale delivers on the first two of these in spades. Kerr drops us into Berlin and Prague in 1941, the politics, the power-games within the Nazi regime, the suffering, the resistance. He evokes a very strong sense of place and time. The prose and dialogue are excellent, as usual. The novel is slightly let down, however, by the latter two. Kerr’s other Gunther novels use movement through time and space as a means to develop the main character and drive the story. Prague Fatale is a fairly static book, divided into two, and there is a linear time narrative with the story set over a few weeks. The first part is set in Berlin and provides the set-up, the second, longer part, in Heydrich’s estate just outside of Prague. It is a locked room mystery, with a notable nod to Agatha Christie. The characterisation as a whole is good, and the story is full of real-life senior Nazis, however we learn very little new about Gunther. And whilst the story is historically embedded in what was happening in Berlin and Prague at the time, it is somewhat long-winded and lacking pace compared with the earlier books (and probably double the length of Christie’s locked room mysteries). In my view, the Prague section of the story would have benefitted from losing a good thirty to fifty pages or more. And part of the ending was telegraphed from a very long way out. That said, this is still a good, entertaining read, just not quite up there with the other Gunther books in my mind. As ever, though, I look forward to the next in one of my favourite series.

Monday, February 27, 2012

15 shots of noir

Having invested in the Kindle, I've now invested in some collections of short stories. So far, I've bought five. They're listed below along with the stories I've read so far. I'm going to dip in and out of them. I also managed to read a couple of other online stories, as well.

Daniel O'Shea, Old Country (Snubnose Press)
The Summer of Fishing, Shackleton's Hooch, Pink Cadillac

Patti Abbott, Monkey Justice (Snubnose Press)
Like A Hawk Rising, The Snake Charmer

Chris Rhatigan, Watch You Drown (Pulp Metal Fiction)
In the Hard Nowhere, The Sidewinder

Keith Rawson, The Chaos We Know (Snubnose Press)
An Appointment with Larry, My World Without Jenna

Paul Brazill, 13 Shots of Noir (Untreed Reads)
The Tut, Anger Management

Rancid Dusk by Cheryl Anne Gardner (Flash Fiction Offensive)
Aftermath by Jake Hinkson (Flash Fiction Offensive)*
Lost places by Matthew C Funk (Shotgun Honey)*
Head Shot
by Cindy Rosmus (Thrillers, Chillers and Killers)

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Lazy Sunday Service

It's been a strange old week. I've spent most of it writing dictionary entries for the forthcoming Oxford Dictionary of Human Geography. I'm now up to L. I spent parts of Thursday evening and Friday doing media work in relation to the tragic death of a young boy on an unfinished estate. A truly awful accident. Hopefully the government will now step up their action in dealing with the health and safety issues relating to such estates. I also purchased a Kindle and started into the world of ebooks. My plan at the minute is to only buy ebooks I can't easily get as paper books. So far I've downloaded a couple of novels and collections of short stories. I've been dipping into the latter. Based on only reading the first couple of stories, an early favourite is Old School by Daniel B O'Shea, a collection of 14 stories in three parts: middle age, the golden years, the afterlife. Here's the blurb:

Bette Davis famously noted that "Old age ain't no place for sissies." In these stories the protagonists may not all be old, but ain't none of them young anymore. They're past the solipsism of youth, that grandiose narcissism that lets the young imagine the world as a stage devoted to their glories. Every character in Old School knows that life isn't a stage, it's a ring. And you'd better learn to take a punch, because life is the undefeated heavyweight champion of the world. You might land a shot here and there, but you are gonna get your ass beat and, in the end, you're going down for the count. Life is however-many-billions and 0, and each of us is just one more digit on the wrong end of that equation.

My posts this week
Seven shots of noir
Finally entered the world of e-books
Scattergun reading
Review of Or The Bull Kills You by Jason Webster
Damned if you do, damned if you don't: An Bord Pleanala and the Children's hospital
It's time to get serious about unfinished estates
Peppered tail

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Peppered tail

‘Did you hear that?’ John whispered.

‘Hear what?’ Ned hissed back.

‘That click.’


They were creeping round a small store on a suburban high street, a dark apartment above.

A stair creaked.

‘Oh fuck!’ John muttered, heading for the backdoor they’d forced open.

The lights switched on, revealing the two hooded intruders.

‘Stay where you are!’ a man shouted.

‘Run!’ Ned yelled.

They exited into a dimly-lit laneway.


The night air filled with the explosion of a shotgun.

‘Oh fuck,’ Ned moaned. ‘My arse!’

‘Keep moving! If we get caught, it’ll get a worse seeing to in prison.’

A drabble is a story of exactly 100 words.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Review of Or The Bull Kills You by Jason Webster (2011, Chatto & Windus)

Chief Inspector Max Camara works for the homicide division in Valencia. On a hot afternoon he’s asked to stand in as the judge of a bullfight in which Spain’s most famous matador, Jorge Blanco, is starring. Camara is no lover of bullfighting and has to rely on advice to appropriately recognize the matadors’ exploits. Afterwards he accepts an invitation to go to a bar with some of the key players in the event. The bar is disturbed by anti-bullfighting protestors, then word comes that Blanco has been found dead in the ring. Camara is assigned to the case in atmosphere charged by the run up to a mayoral election in which the incumbent mayor has promised to ban the sport and the impeding festival of Fallas. Shortly afterwards Blanco’s manager is found murdered by a lake, killed in a similar fashion. Camara, already under pressure due an incident with another officer, starts to feel the heat as various interests try to disrupt his investigation.

The real strength of Or The Bull Kills You is the sense of place, the detailing of the history and culture of bullfighting, and the insights into the political machinations of local politics and the police system. The characterisation is relatively standard fare: Camara is the talented but awkward cop who rails against the system and falls easily into women’s beds; the other characters are fine without lighting up the page. The plot works okay until near the end, when it starts to become a little ragged and the finale is contrived for dramatic effect which works to undermine the credibility of the tale. There were also some elements that didn’t seem to add up in my mind. A nice touch is the theme of impotence that runs throughout. Overall, an interesting, competent first novel that needed a little more consistency of plot to go with the well developed sense of place and history.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Scattergun reading

I blame the new Kindle, but last night I engaged in a bit of scattergun reading. I managed a couple of chapters of the excellent book I was already reading, Prague Fatale by Philip Kerr. I topped that off with a short story from Patti Abbott's collection, Monkey Justice, the first fifty pages or so of Gerard Brennan's, The Point, the opening section to A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle, and the opening chapter of Tollesbury Time Forever by Stuart Aylis. It was like drowning in a sweet jar of tasty words. I'm going to try and get myself a bit more ordered tonight, though it's going to be a toughy to work out the order I'm going to chew my way through those. I also need to write a couple of reviews. Expect one of Or the Bull Kills You by Jason Webster tomorow.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Finally entered the world of e-books

So a Kindle Touch arrived in the post this morning. In the end I caved in and bought one as I needed to be able to access titles that have only been published as e-books. To start myself off I've bought three titles: Patti Abbott, Monkey Justice; Stuart Aylis, Tollesbury Time Forever; Gerard Brennan, Wee Rockets. Looking forward to giving them a read in due course. The paperback version of The Point by Gerard Brennan and Elly Griffiths The Janus Stone also turned up via snail mail this morning. There's every danger of serious growth to the TBR pile occurring!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Seven shots of noir

My own shot of noir last week was 'On a High Wire' published on Flash Fiction Offensive. I also managed to draft two more pieces over the weekend, which I hope to submit shortly.

These are the short stories I read during the past seven days:

Reno by Chris Leek (Near to the Knuckle)
Mexican Souvenirs by Eric Beetner (Thrillers, Chillers and Killers)
Idle Hands by Tina Lonergan (Clean White Pages)
Bacon by Cormac Brown (A Twist of Noir)
The day traders (pt2) by Peter Farris (Shotgun Honey)
Moonshine by Seth Sherwood (Spinetingler)
Portrait of an American Family by Benoit Lelievre (Shotgun Honey)

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Lazy Sunday Service

I gave my 'Prospects for the Irish Property Market' talk in Galway on Thursday. It's not the cheeriest of presentations. I got told afterwards that shots of whiskey should be at hand for all everyone in the audience. Every sector of the market is deep in the doldrums at present, with the situation set to get worse before it gets better. Our interaction graph module relating to house prices can be found here (or by clicking on the image right). As you can see, nationwide houses are down 47% (54% Dublin) and apartments are down 57% (Dublin 58%). 1 in 7 mortgages are more than 3 months in arrears or have been restructured, 1 in 3 are in negative equity.

My posts this week
Seven shots of noir
Review of When Money Dies by Adam Fergusson
Which country is the next big thing in crime fiction?
Lifting the load: Help for people with mortgage arrears
Review of Nobody's Perfect by Donald Westlake
On a high wire
The long walk

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The long walk

‘Are you sure this is a good idea?’

‘We need the money.’

‘You could just sell it.’

‘It’s worth fuck all and we’ll get more this way. This’ll do.’

The car pulled to a stop and the two men exited onto the narrow lane. In the distance the city cast the clouds in an orange glow.

They pushed the car into the ditch, doused it with petrol, lit a match, then WHOOSH!


‘Now what?’ the driver asked, mesmerized by the dancing flames.

‘We walk home and wait for the cheque.’

‘Walk? Fuck. The cheque’s gonna get there before us!’

A drabble is a story of exactly 100 words

Friday, February 17, 2012

On a High Wire

My flash fiction piece 'On a High Wire' has been published over on Flash Fiction Offensive. A little slice of Irish urban noir.

Review of Nobody’s Perfect by Donald Westlake (The Mysterious Press, 1977)

Dortmunder is a professional thief who has been caught red-handed boosting televisions from a store. He’s going back to prison and knows it. Then a high class, celebrity lawyer turns up and miraculously he’s wriggled out of the charges. The catch is the lawyer’s paymaster, the rich and feckless Chauncey, wants Dortmunder to steal a painting - Folly Leads Man to Ruin by Veenbes - from his New York townhouse, bypassing an alarm system and a houseful of guests as part of an insurance scam. The deal is that Dortmunder keeps the painting until the insurance company settles. To make sure Dortmunder doesn’t make off with the painting, Chauncey has also hired a hitman to keep an eye on his thief. Dortmunder puts together his string of accomplices and plans the robbery. It should be relatively straightforward - in, out and away, whilst Chauncey keeps his guests occupied. Except it all goes horribly wrong, the painting lost in a throng of drunken Scot’s men as the gang make their getaway. They have six months to retrieve the painting or come up with another foolproof plan.

Folly Leads Man to Ruin would have been a much better title for this book than Nobody’s Perfect. Dortmunder’s follies pile up one after the other, each leading to a more precarious future. Westlake keeps up a steady pace, with a series of nicely constructed and clever set pieces that are strung together into a plot divided into four parts. There is a gentle humour running throughout and a few genuine belly laughs. The characterisation is well observed, with a good mix of likeable rogues. For me, the story was a little let down through a lack of edginess or grit and the book seemed to stop about ten to fifteen pages too short. Also the premise around the insurance scam as it entered the last quarter didn’t stand up to much scrutiny. Nevertheless, an enjoyable read from a powerhouse of comic crime storytelling.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Publishing Perspectives: Which Country is the Next Big Thing in Crime Fiction?

Publishing Perspectives have put a question that seems to do the rounds every now and then - what country's fiction might rise up and become the next big thing internationally? It frames this within the statement: 'With Scandinavia’s crime fiction spree winding to a close.' I'm not really convinced that this is the case; it seems to be still doing just dandy. More a case of what crime fiction is going to eat further into the share of the UK and American markets. Of course, I'm biased, but I'd like to think that Irish crime fiction might be the one to rise to prominence.

As the comment by Declan Burke on the PP website makes clear, there are a healthy number of Irish authors publishing crime fiction set in Ireland or abroad - John Connolly, Tana French, Colin Bateman, Alex Barclay, Ken Bruen, Stuart Neville, Benjamin Black, Adrian McKinty, Arlene Hunt, Conor Fitzgerald, Eoin Colfer, Declan Hughes, Eoin McNamee, William Ryan, Brian McGilloway, Gene Kerrigan, Niamh O’Connor, Alan Glynn, Cora Harrison, Jane Casey, John J. Gaynard, Gerard Brennan, Casey Hill, Gerard O’Donovan, Kevin McCarthy, KT McCaffrey, Cormac Millar, Paul Charles, Sam Millar, Claire McGowan, Garbhan Downey, John Brady and Declan Burke himself. And good stuff it is too. Check it out, if you haven't already.

Other countries presently making their mark? In my view, Scotland, South Africa, Australia and Italy.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Review of When Money Dies by Adam Fergusson (1975)

The fiscal and financial conditions across Europe are far from perfect at the minute. Ireland is in debt up to its rheumy eyes and undergoing austerity measures. Greece is teetering on the edge of default and collapsing into an uncertain future. Portugal, Italy and Spain are on austerity diets after the gorging on debt for the past couple of decades. In all five countries unemployment has risen, household income has fallen, and the population are feeling financially squeezed by personal and national debt obligations. Life though is a hell of a lot better than Germany under the Weimar Republic, post World War One. Adam Fergusson’s, When Money Dies: The Nightmare of the Weimar Hyper-Inflation, tells the story of when a whole economy implodes; when very large sections of society lose everything they own, many are left starving, and petty crime, large scale demonstrations, strikes and riots become common place. The book mainly focuses on Germany, but also shows how the same problems were replicated in Austria and Hungary.

In 1914, 20 German Marks equalled a British pound. By 1924 a British pound was equal to the number of yards to the sun and Germany was all but a barter economy. The First World War had left Germany on its financial knees, though its industrial base remained strong. The payments to the allies under the Versailles Treaty hung heavily on the struggling economy. Gradually inflation started to rise, devaluing the mark against foreign currencies. This allowed German business to grow, but the domestic economy started to spiral out of control. The Reichsbank’s solution was to increase wages and print more money to enable the populace to purchase goods. And as prices increased, the denominations of notes increased, and the value of savings and pensions plummeted. It soon became apparent that the only way to extract the value of money was to immediately spend it as Germany entered a period of hyper-inflation (when the value of money at the end of a month was worth half that at the start). By 1923, it was not uncommon for salaries to be raised several times a month to keep pace with inflation. Unable to pay the reparations to the Allies, the French and Belgians moved into the Ruhr, Germany’s industrial heartland, to seize and exploit its assets, further weakening the economy and its ability to make such payments. Whilst people suffered, unemployment remained quite low, however by 1924 it was clear that a new strategy was needed to end the madness of exponential inflation. The solution was to introduce a new currency with a stable commodity base and to move the economy onto it, and to balance the books to reduce the need for deficit finance. The result, whilst curbing inflation, was a massive drop in industrial production as German goods became more expensive on the world market leading to mass unemployment. Although not directly responsible for the rise of National Socialism, Fergusson makes a good case that the turbulence of economic circumstance, the disenfranchisement of the middle classes, and the rise of unemployment helped provide the conditions within which it could grow.

Adam Fergusson does an admirable job of detailing for a lay audience what happened with the German economy in the early 1920s. He uses a mix of historical sources, including letters, British diplomatic material, and newspaper reports. Sometimes the narrative is a little dry and it would have been good to include more detail on Austria and Hungary, the strategy of German industrialists, and the French/Belgian intervention in the Ruhr. Although not its intention, what the book demonstrates is the value of the European project in binding Europe into a common monetary framework that makes it easier for countries whose economy is in trouble to weather financial storms. As the present crisis demonstrates, that process is not always straightforward and easy, and is fraught with difficult politics and decisions, but what Fergusson’s book highlights is that trying to cope on their own with politicians who seem clueless about core economic principles can be a hell of a lot worse.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Seven shots of noir

Here are the links to the seven short stories I read last week. All flash fiction pieces, so nice, quick shots of noir.

Convergence by John Spaert (Flash Fiction Offensive)*
The Confessor by Lonni Lees (Shotgun Honey)
Cosmo in the mourning by Gary Clifton (Spinetingler)
Sleep tight by Jack Bates (Near to the Knuckle)
Pimp Inc (c) by Nick Mott (Flash Fiction Offensive)
Goes around by Sandra Seamans (Shotgun Honey)
The hater's club by Len Kuntz (Near to the Knuckle)

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Lazy Sunday Service

I've done an awful lot of reading in the last couple of weeks. Of exam scripts and coursework (hence the lack of reviews). I've ten scripts left then I'm done for a while. I took a break from it yesterday and worked my way through a Donald Westlake novel, and let me tell you, it was a pleasant relief. One of the courses I've been marking is 'Geographies of the Crisis' and its fairly depressing to read one essay after another by early twenty-something year old students about how they see and understand the present and immediate future (which largely seems to be emigration). Though I guess that might be marginally preferable to Westlake's alternative which is a life of crime, albeit an amusing one. The painting at the centre of Westlake's novel is Folly Leads Man to Ruin - that seems about right for describing Ireland at the minute. Maybe next time I'll get the students to explain the country through a piece of art. Hopefully that would be easier on the eye than some of their handwriting, but somehow I doubt it.

My posts this week
Seven shots of noir
CIF, Future Housing Supply in Ireland report - one year on
Review of Head Games by Craig McDonald
Unfinished estates in post-Celtic Tiger Ireland
Ghost estates
Embrace the destroyers of your world
She wrecks my head

Saturday, February 11, 2012

She wrecks my head

‘I can’t work with her!’

‘What?’ The boss looked up.

‘She ... she wrecks my head.’

‘She does what?’

‘Look ... I can’t work with her. She ... How about I work with Kirsty instead?’

‘I don’t want you to work with Kirsty.’

The young man looked pained.

‘What’s wrong with Carla?’ the boss asked.

‘Nothing. Nothing’s wrong with Carla. That’s the problem.’

‘The problem?’

‘She wrecks my head.’

‘Oh. You fancy Carla? Our Carla?’

The man looked away, his face flushed red.

‘Carla. Wow. Well, I guess you have three choices: concentrate, resign, or ask her on a date.’

A drabble is a story of exactly 100 words

Friday, February 10, 2012

Embrace the destroyers of your world

Came across these two images yesterday. Irony was the word that popped into my head. Click image to link through to source.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Ghost estates

For those interested in what is happening in Ireland with respect to so-called 'ghost estates', I've just published a short paper on the issue:

NIRSA Working Paper 67 – Unfinished Estates in Post-Celtic Tiger Ireland by Rob Kitchin, Cian O’Callaghan and Justin Gleeson.


In the wake of the global financial crisis, and the ongoing financial and fiscal crisis in Europe, much attention has focused on Ireland and its beleaguered economy given its status as one of the PIIGS and the fact that it had to be bailed out by the troika of the IMF, EU and ECB in November 2010. Whilst much of the gaze has been directed at Ireland’s banks and the strategy of the Irish government to manage the crisis, a substantial amount of interest, both nationally and internationally, has been focused on the property sector and in particular the phenomenon of so-called ‘ghost estates’ (or in official terms, unfinished estates). As of October 2011 there were 2,846 such estates in Ireland and they have come to visibly symbolise the collapse of Ireland’s ‘Celtic Tiger’ economy. In this paper, we examine the unfinished estates phenomenon, placing them within the context of Ireland’s property boom during the Celtic Tiger years. We detail the characteristics and geography of such estates, the various problems afflicting the estates and their residents, and the Irish government’s response to addressing those problems. In the final section we speculate as to the fate of such estates given the approach adopted and the wider political and economic landscape.

Full paper is here.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Review of Head Games by Craig McDonald (Bleak House Books, 2007)

Hector Lassiter is a pulp novelist and Hollywood scriptwriter turned cultural icon, a writer whose life is more dramatic than the characters in his books. He was one of Pershing’s raiders into Mexico in 1913, chasing General Francisco Villa, he served in the Europe in the First World War, took active role as a spy/gun-runner in the second, and amongst his close personal friends are Ernest Hemingway, Orson Welles and Marlene Deitrich. It is 1957 and Lassiter’s young daughter and his third wife are dead. Lassiter has travelled into Mexico with Bud Fiske, a young poet, who has been commissioned by True magazine to write a profile of the writer. In a bar they are cut into a deal involving the fabled head of Villa, long stolen from a grave. The head is being sought by Yale’s Skull and Bones Society for their private collection for a large fee. It is also reputed to contain a treasure map to Villa’s missing fortune. Before the deal is concluded they are attacked. Lassiter and Fiske escape with the head, dashing to the border. Several parties of headhunters though are on their trail, including the US intelligence services. Over the next couple of weeks, the two of them, along with the beautiful Alicia, try to stay one step ahead of their pursuers as they try to convert the head into cash.

This was a book of two halves for me. The first half was a dark, screwball noir, with a strong plot and a suite of interesting characters, both fictional and real. Indeed, the book contains a number of real characters and is rooted in the real myths surrounding Villa’s missing head. McDonald provides a rich and colourful back story for Lassiter, with a good degree of depth and complexity to his personality. The story has a good sense of place, historical context, and the right kind of feel as a literary pulp noir story as Lassiter would have written it. It hummed along like a well tuned engine. The second half of the book, however, seemed to run out of pace and ideas, with the last quarter in particular becoming bitty, with a faltering pace and staccato story line. If the second half could have kept the same pace and feel of the first half, this would have unquestionably been a five star read. The unevenness, however, pulled it back into the pack. More than enough here though for me to seek out other McDonald books.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Seven shots of noir

Here are the links to the seven short stories I read last week. I'd love to see 'How we roll' by Matthew Funk extended out as a novel. Has a great feel to it.

How we roll by Matthew C Funk (Shotgun Honey)*
A day in the death of Stafford Plank by Stuart Aylis (Flash Fiction Offensive)*
Showtime by Albert Tucher (Spinetingler)*
Hells Express by John L Thompson (Shotgun Honey)
Saving Cletus Brockton by Jim Harrington (Powder Burn Flash)
A pain in the ass by Phil Beloin (Pulp Pusher)
The body by Andrew Hilbert (Flash Fiction Offensive)

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Lazy Sunday Service

It's a month since I started on Facebook and a week since I started on Twitter. I can see the attraction of both, though I think I'm reaching the limit on time I want to devote to social media. Facebook, Twitter, plus Friendfeed and two blogs, eat up time. I also still prefer blogging as the pieces and exchanges are more substantive. Talking of blog posts, here are two about two books published last week in one of the book series I edit, Public private partnerships in Ireland and Youth policy, civil society and the modern Irish state. The series is Irish Society, published by Manchester University Press.

My posts this week
Short story heaven
Dublin falls from 12th to 198th (out of 200) in Brookings Global MetroMonitor
Review of The Cold, Cold Ground by Adrian McKinty
Medidan book award
IDA job losses and creation 2007-2011 by region and county
Casanova succumbs to Two Ton Tina
CSO property price changes 2005-2011
Property market by sector and region 2011
January reads
A little encouragement

Saturday, February 4, 2012

A little encouragement

'Have you got my money, Michael?'

Michael glanced up nervously, scratching at a grubby shirt. 'I ... I'm working on it.'

'Perhaps you need to work harder?' Doyle lifted up a baseball bat, wiggling its tip menacingly.

'I ... I definitely won't be able to get it if I can't walk.'

'You don't seem to be able to pay it back as it is. Perhaps you need a little encouragement?'

'I'll pay it back, Mr Doyle. I promise.'

'I know you will, Michael.'

Doyle swung the bat, tight and fast.

Michael yelped as his wrist snapped with an audible crack.

A drabble is a story of exactly 100 words

Friday, February 3, 2012

January reads

I'm surprised to find that I read 8 books in January. It felt like I'd done a lot of reading, but that it was mostly coursework and exams. Looking down the list it was a good month. My read of January goes to The Cold, Cold Ground by Adrian McKinty, closely followed Storm Front by Jim Butcher.

The Cold, Cold Ground by Adrian McKinty *****
The Eighty Five Billion Euro Man by Donal Conaty ***
The Dead Detective by William Heffernan ***
Black Sheep by Arlene Hunt ***.5
Storm Front by Jim Butcher *****
Devil's Peak by Deon Meyer ****.5
In a Lonely Place by Dorothy B Hughes ****
White Nights by Ann Cleeves ****

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Casanova Succumbs to Two Ton Tina

Harry and Pete, two hapless, lazy, misogynist cops wobbling along the slow road to retirement, are back in another slice of politically incorrect, screwball noir. Casanova Succumbs to Two Ton Tina was published on A Twist of Noir yesterday. Check out the other flash fiction stories there. There's some great five minute fixes for story addicts.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Meridan Book Award 2011

My book Code/Space, co-written with Martin Dodge, has won the Association of American Geographers Meridan Book Award for the Outstanding Scholarly Work in Geography 2011 for "the one book published last year that makes an unusually important contribution to advancing the science and art of geography". I guess I better savour this one as I doubt I'm going to get another best book in the discipline award (well of those books that were considered at least) any time soon. Of course, there's an award ceremony at the end of the month in New York at the annual meeting which I am going to miss as, for only the second time in 17 years, I'm not attending. Ironically, I've decided to devote the week instead to trying to catch up on some writing. 8-9,000 geographers in one place at one time, all talking geography over five days, is kind of weird, intense week. My plan is to talk to no geographers that week, just to read some of their work and write!