IRISH CRIME WRITERS
web links compiled by Cormac Millar
[ For the True Crime section click HERE ]
Irish crime and mystery writing continues to roar ahead, even as the Celtic Tiger loses its stuffing. Society is changing; Ireland seems more dangerous. But how new is this interest in crime? Highbrow Irish literature has long had a fascination with mystery and downright violence. Old Mahon got his head bashed with a spade in 1907, old Mathers suffered the same fate in 1939, Eamonn Eales was wiped out by the Encyclopedia Britannica in 1978. Mervyn Wall's Hermitage (1982) shows Tony Langton, an elderly civil servant, killing his girlfriend with a clothes brush. Roddy Doyle's The Woman Who Walked into Doors (1996), provides a powerful portrait of marital abuse, framed by a story of armed robbery. Joseph O'Connor's Star of the Sea (2003) has been called a "first-rate historical thriller". Patrick McCabe's cult novel The Butcher Boy (1992) is narrated by a psychotic killer. An article by Supreme Court Justice Adrian Hardiman even asks if James Joyce's Ulysses (1922) should be classed as a murder mystery.
The list below doesn't attempt to cover the criminal side of Irish literary fiction. It offers links to Irish or Irish-connected authors who have openly published in the mystery genre - sometimes even using their own names. Not all Irish crime novels are set in Ireland; some Irish crimewriters have immersed themselves in foreign settings and identities. But that too is part of what we are. Conversely, "Irish" thrillers are frequently written by authors from overseas. And "Irish" can be a different badge in America...
Inevitably, the list is patchy. Few of the older authors have their own dedicated websites. Some authors seem to have renounced the life of crime, while others remain productive in the field. As well as being scrappy, the list is jumbled, with names thrown in alphabetically. Unlike my list of Seven Great Crime Novels, inclusion implies no value judgment (though some of the books are astonishingly good). The criteria used have been flexible, but accounts of purely paramilitary crime or terrorism have mostly been excluded, as have children's books involving mystery plots, accounts of police and judicial malpractice, some self-published materials, some accounts of death caused by mental disturbance, and a few sites where the information seems more than usually dubious. Other links may be added in the future; suggestions have been received and are always welcome.
Once the list grew beyond 70 authors it became unwieldly; it is gradually being re-organized by categories. (True crime, here marked TC, is the first category to get its own separate page.) Next comes Anthologies, which will include Peter Haining's Great Irish Detective Stories and Great Irish Stories of Murder & Mystery. Grateful thanks are due to Ms Deirdre Armstrong of the South Eastern Education and Library Board, Northern Ireland, for expert advice and additional information. Also to Anthony O'Neill of Hamburg who has very kindly provided details of five unusual suspects. And to the organizers of "The Body in the Library: The Great Detectives 1841-1941", a fine exhibition staged in the Long Room of Trinity College Dublin, Ireland's oldest and finest university.
A list like this is constantly out of date. New writers appear, old ones produce new work. For a long look at the Irish crime writing scene, past and present, Down These Green Streets: Irish Crime Writing in the 21st Century, edited by the good and deserving Declan Burke, is a really valuable reference -- among several great reviews, The Irish Times called it "thoroughly entertaining [...] intriguing insights into the genre [...] a wonderful collection". (Full disclosure: along with some of my more famous brethren and sistren, I contributed a small essay to this volume.) The two launches in Dublin and Belfast were among the most glamorous events I attended in 2011. (I don't get out much.) Order your copies now.
Former crime correspondent of the Irish Independent; author of two thrillers, Last to Know (2003) and The Set-Up (2005).
Former Head of News and Current Affairs for BBC Northern Ireland, author of psychological thrillers including Inheritance (1996), Reckoning (1998) and Lunenburg (2000).
Celebrated Irish writer, some of whose mainstream novels (The Book of Evidence, Athena) were already concerned with crime both amateur and professional; he has now begun to produce further crime books under the pseudonym Benjamin Black (Christine Falls, The Silver Swan).
Distinguished straight novelist (formerly known as Vincent Lawrence), who has also turned his hand to crime and to children's writing.
Dublin-based journalist. Her debut novel, Darkhouse (2005), was an instant bestseller, described by one reviewer as "a blinding first effort". Her latest, Blood Runs Cold (2008), won the crime fiction section of the 2009 Irish Book Awards.
American-born novelist, author of A View to Die For, published by Poolbeg.
Northern Irish writer with a wicked sense of humour, practising crime, children's literature and screenwriting; threatening to write opera. His latest series includes Mystery Man (2009) -- "Bateman pulls it off", said the Coventry Telegraph -- and The Day of the Jack Russell (2010).
Thriller-writing name of literary novelist and commentator Peter Cunningham .
George A. Birmingham
Pseudonym of the Rev. James Owen Hannay (1865-1950), a native of Belfast and graduate of Trinity College Dublin. He was Church of Ireland rector of Westport, Co. Mayo until he was driven out by a boycott. A humourous writer, his sixty books include The Search Party (1909), The Simpkins Plot (1911), Murder Most Foul! A gallery of famous criminals, (1929) and Wild Justice (1930).
Pseudonym of outspoken Irish journalist Eilis O'Hanlon, writing with her husband Ian McConnel. Their first novel, The Dead (2003), about a serial killer, won a Shamus award and was followed by The Dark Eye (2004).
M. McDonnell Bodkin (1850-1933)
Tuam-born barrister and politician, McDonnell Bodkin KC was the non-fiction author of Recollections of an Irish Judge (1914) and Famous Irish Trials (1918). As a fiction writer he had previously invented Paul Beck, The Rule of Thumb Detective (1898), who goes through a number of adventures including marriage to Dora Myrl, the Lady Detective.
Angela Bourke TC - see separate True Crime page.
Marcus Bourke TC - see separate True Crime page.
Dublin-born author, graduate of Trinity College Dublin and the University of East Anglia Creative Writing MA. The majority of his books, from The Thief of Time through Crippen to Next of Kin, touch on murder. Best known for his enormously successful children's book, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas.
Canadian resident, Irish-born, Brady is the creator of Inspector Matt Minogue, Dublin Murder Squad investigator.
Revolutionary, poltical organizer, newspaperman, diplomat and radio head (1881-1964). Father of the New Yorker contributor Maeve Brennan. His published detective stories include The False Finger Tip which he wrote in jail (pseudonym Selskar Kearney, Dublin, Maunsel & Roberts, 1921); The Toledo Dagger (London: John Hamilton, 1927) and The Man Who Walked Like a Dancer (London, Rich & Cowan, 1951). Other unpublished crime writings are conserved in the University of Delaware Special Collections.
Galway never seemed so dangerous. Bruen's books have garnered awards in several countries, and he gets an exceptoinally strong critical reception from North American reviewers: Publishers Weekly has named him "among the finest noir stylists of his generation".
Hailed by Ken Bruen (q.v.) as "the future of Irish crime fiction [...] the writing is a joy", freelance writer Declan Burke is the author of two hardboiled crime novels: Eight-Ball Boogie (2003) and The Big O (2007). Has established an excellent Irish crime fiction blog. He is published in the US by Harcourt.
In 2008 Serpent's Tail published her debut novel, The Semantics of Murder, an ambitious literary novel inspired by the real-life 1971 murder of a philosophy professor in LA. Also a fine example of crime writing. Her third novel is due in 2012.
Carson is a doctor. There's a sharp edge to his thrillers, and his website.
When Dubliner Jane Casey's debut novel, The Missing, appeared in February 2010, Marie Claire called "a taut, tense thriller". Foreign rights were sold in several languages. Her second novel, The Burning, published later that same year, was praised by the Irish Times for its "superb characterisations...The Burning confirms that she's a talent to watch." The Reckoning was published in summer 2011, earning 5-star reviews on Amazon.
Gentle, understated, cerebral without being flashy, the Christy Kennedy series by Northern Irish novelist Paul Charles has reached its 9th volume.
Now here's an "Irish mystery". Reginald Evelyn Peter Southouse Cheyney (1896-1951) is best known for hardboiled thrillers, printed in lurid covers and set in London, where the "official" Cheyney web site says he was born -- a claim accompanied by corroborative evidence. Yet Peter Haining, in Great Irish Detective Stories (1993), gives his place of birth as "County Clare where his forebears had lived for at least two centuries". They can't both be right. Brady and Cleeve, in A Biographical Dictionary of Irish Writers, also go for Clare.
Author of Death in the Life Department, set in Dublin, published by the Metropolitcan Publishing Co. Ltd., Dublin and London, 1947.
Anglo-Irish writer (1921-2003) and broadcaster; his many books ranged from reference works to apologias for mysticism, and included spy novels such as Violent Death of a Bitter Englishman (1967) and Exit from Prague (1970)
The Butterfly State, Coffey's fiction début from Poolbeg Press (February 2009) tells of an alcoholic father whose ten-year-old daughter is charged with his murder. "Full of tension and atmosphere" (Irish Independent).
Irish-born, American-resident writer of rare talent, steadily gaining the recognition he deserves. Death and mystery feature in several of his books.
Patrick Rearden Conner [or Connor] (c.1905-1991), variously born in Cork, Belfast or Dublin, was a ditch-digger, stenographer and landscape gardener turned novelist, critic and broadcaster. His thriller, Shake Hands with the Devil (1933) was filmed in Ireland with James Cagney; Time to Kill (Knopf, 1936) is set in a tenement house and depicts a sensitive young Irishman driven to serial killing by "poverty, idleness and sexual repression". Other novels are reported to depict village life as "passionate and murderous". Several books were banned by the Irish Censorhip Board. His literary papers were acquired in 1994 by the British Library.
Emer Connolly TC - see separate True Crime page.
International bestselling author, formerly an Irish Times journalist. Does not use Irish settings. Excellent web site, generously informative.
Mostly a prolific author of hunting and romance books, she is also listed in the Cambridge Companion to the Irish Novel as a notable detective novelist. Reference sources give conflicting information on her life (1871-1949, or possiby 1863-1949).
Biographer and non-fiction writer who has occasionally touched on true crime, for example in Conan Doyle, Detective: True Crimes Investigated by the Creator of Sherlock Holmes. Hardback editions were well received; a new paperback appeared in 2006.
Eoin McNamee uses the name John Creed for writing thrillers, although some novels published under his own name also deal with criminal and violent themes.
Described as a Dubliner and a journalist, Cregan is author of five thrillers published by Hodder and by Coronet.
Freeman Wills Crofts
Dublin-born Crofts (1879-1957), educated in Northern Ireland, was one of the best-known English detective novelists of his day. Most of his works are set in England. Sir John Magill's Last Journey (1930) was set in Northern Ireland
Barry Cummins TC - see separate True Crime page.
Mark Daniel -- VISITOR
Pseudonym of Mark Daniel Fitzgeorge-Parker, educated at "Ampleforth, Cambridge and HM Prison, Ashwell". A one-time UKIP parliamentary candidate, his tales of horse-racing malfeasance have been compared to Dick Francis. He set his 1990 thriller The Bold Thing in rural Ireland, where he was then living.
Born in Dublin in 1957, Davison is the author of four espioniage novels featuring Harry Fielding, attached to Brtain's MI5, as well as other novels, plays and film scripts.
Cecil Day Lewis
Born in County Sligo in 1904, Day Lewis was educated in England, where he became Poet Laureate at the end of an eminient literary career. As Nicholas Blake, he wrote a series of crime novels featuring Nigel Strangeways, whom Julian Symons called "a real innovation, a truly literary detective". The Private Wound (1968) is set in the West of Ireland. Beautifully written, it has been called the most autobiographical of Day Lewis's mysteries.
Kenneth Deale TC - see separate True Crime page.
American author of four Irish mysterynovels featuring Torrey Tunet, translator and amateur detective, the latest being The Irish Village Murder (2004).
Eamon Dillon TC - see separate True Crime page.
Among her 50 published books were three Irish detective stories from the 1950s, among the earlier novels of their kind to be set in Ireland. Originally published by Faber & Faber, they have been variously translated into French, Dutch and Italian, and republished several times in America; the latest edition comes from Rue Morgue Press in Spring 2009.
Gerard Doherty TC - see separate True Crime page.
Terence Dooley TC - see separate True Crime page.
Ruth Dudley Edwards
Trenchant commentator and historian, creator of the most unladylike Baroness Jack Troutbeck.
Assistant Editor with The Sunday World, Ekin is the author of two long psychological thrillers, Stone Heart (1999) and Single Obsession (2001).
Wolfgang Eulitz TC - see separate True Crime page.
Ann C. Fallon
Born in Boston, she studied at Trinity College Dublin and taught at Queen's College, City University of New York. She is the author of six mystery novels, all set in Ireland and featuring James Fleming, a solicitor who dabbles in crime investigation: Blood is Thicker (1990), Where Death Lies (1991), Dead Ends (1992), Potter's Field (1993), Hour of Our Death (1995), and Deadly Analysis (2000).
Reported to be possibly a playwright. First crime novel. Not All Stalkers Are Bad, published 2007. Not widely available, but copies have been seen in Murder Ink on Dublin's Dawson Street.
Born in Charleville, Co. Cork in 1906, educated at Clongowes and Trinity College Dublin, Fitzgerald published at least a dozen crime novels in the 1950s and 60s, including Midsummer Malice (1953) and Affair of Death (1967). His 1958 novel Suffer a Witch was chosen by Jacques Barzun and Wendell Hertig Taylor as one of their "50 Classics of Crime Fiction, 1950-1975"; it was translated into German (Hexensabbat) and French (Requiem pour une sorcière). Fitzgerald was also an actor; he played Pozzo in the Irish première of Beckett's Waiting for Godot, and had minor roles in films incuding Captain Lightfoot (1955) & John Ford's Gideon's Day (1958). He died in 1985.
Jazz presenter on Dublin local radio. Crime novel After Gibraltar published 2008. Not widely available, but copies have been seen in Murder Ink.
Pseudonym of Caroline Hussey, academic microbiologist, former Registrar of University College Dublin, and author of two murder mysteries: Publish or perish? (1991) and Murder by the Book (1992).
Frederick Forsyth -- VISITOR -- SHORT STORY WRITER
International bestselling author who lived in Ireland for some years and included several Irish-based stories in his 1982 collection, No Comebacks.
A professional actress, her debut psychological thriller, In the Woods, appeared in March 2007. Among other rave reviews, Books Ireland called it "gloriously written [...] the most impressive first novel I've read in ages". Following its US publication it won the Macavity Award for Best First Mystery. Her second book, The Likeness, was published to wide acclaim and very large sales in 2008.
Jenny Friel TC - see separate True Crime page.
Dublin-based TV scriptwriter for RTE's "Fair City", his crime novels published by Poolbeg include Flight (2002), Pay Back (2003), and Pursuit (2004).
Serving member of the Garda Síochána, police force of the Irish Republic. Author of Bog Warriors (2000), a comic crime thriller set in Dingle, County Kerry, and The Mercury Man (2002), praised in Ireland on Sunday for its "well-written, punchy storytelling"..
Author of seven novels, from The Longest Fraud (1996) to Blah Blah Black Sheep (2001).
American journalist (real name Mark McGarrity, 1943-2002), graduate of Trinity College Dublin, wrote 17 police procedurals featuring Chief Superintendent Peter McGarr of the Murder Squad, An Garda Síochána.
Born in 1960, Glynn is a graduate of Trinity College Dublin. His thriller The Dark Fields, set in New York and featuring the strange side-effects of a mind-altering drug, appeared in 2001. Publishers Weekly called it "slick, suspenseful ... impeccably imagined and executed". His second novel, Winterland (November 2009), is set in Dublin. Ken Bruen calls it "a noir masterpiece, the bar against which all future works will be judged".
Andrew M. Greeley IRISH/AMERICAN
"Countless readers have been delighted by Father Andrew M. Greeley's bestselling tales of Nuala Anne McGrail, a fey, Irish-speaking woman from Galway blessed with the gift of second sight and a knack for unraveling mysteries..." say his US publishers. Greeley (b. 1928) is a liberal Catholic priest, author and sociologist at the universities of Chicago and Arizona.
Has been publishing finely calibrated novels, short stories and memoirs since 1990; Headbanger (1996) and Sad Bastard (1998) are crime novels featuring Garda Pat Coyne.
Dubliner living in the West. His first murder mystery, Aisling Ltd (2006) was described by Karlin Lillington as "an enjoyable Irish take on the dotcom phenomenon".
Children's author Cora Harrison published My Lady Judge: A Mystery of Medieval Ireland, her first adult book, in 2007. Lucille Redmond, writing in the Dublin Evening Herald, called it "a fabulous thriller. It's what you might call a Brehon procedural, set in the last days of Gaelic Ireland." This was the first of the "Burren Mysteries", strongly reviewed in America, and was followed by The Michaelmas Tribute (2008) and The Sting of Justice (2009).
American midwestern writer with connections in theatre and Irish music. Author of two mystery novels concerning bodies found in Irish bogs: Haunted Ground (2003), and Lake of Sorrows (2004)
Born in Carrickfergus, Co. Down in 1912, Herron moved to Canada after serving in the Second World War, and worked as a religious minister and a journalist and editor. His novels include four mysteries, two of which were nominated for the Edgar Award of the Mystery Writers of America
Of mixed Irish-Breton origins, media producer and director Anna Heussaff is a new Irish-language writer of crime and children's fiction. In Bás Tobann [Sudden Death] (2004), a Dublin couple move to the country and become embroiled in dark local secrets.
Belfast-born Higgins is an enormously productive and successful suspense writer, under at least five "pseudonyms" including his real name, Harry Patterson.
Not the Yeats biographer, not the Dublin distiller, this Joseph Hone was born in 1937. Following a fragmented upbringing chronicled in his recent autobiography, Wicked Little Joe (2009), he wrote several literate thrillers starring British spy Peter Marlow -- the most famous being The Sixth Directorate (1977) -- as well as working for the BBC and teaching at an American university. Hones feature prominently in Irish cultural life: Evie the stained-glass artist. Nathaniel the painter(s). Leland the cricketer, Leland the poet and autobiographer.
Paul Howard TC - see separate True Crime page.
Living in Drogheda, Co. Louth, Roger Hudson works in film, photomontage and now crime fiction: Death Comes by Amphora, the first in a series of historical mystery novels set in ancient Athens, was published in 2007.
Innovative playwright and theatre director; his extravagantly complex first crime novel, The Wrong Kind of Blood (2006), introduced private investigator Ed Loy. This was followed in 2007 by The Colour of Blood, praised by Publishers Weekly for its "sharp writing and strong local color". The Price of Blood (2008), featuring horse racing, has also had very strong American reviews. (Its British title is The Dying Breed.)
Author of six thrillers, of which five published so far, starting with Vicious Circle (2004). Her writing has been called "grim, gritty, terrifying. And real." Her latest published work, Undertow (2008), is shortlisted for the crime fiction section of the Irish Book Awards.
Belfast-born poet, living in Galway, founder of the Cúirt Literary Festival. His fourth novel, The Neon Rose (Bluechrome, 2007) is a crime story set in Paris.
First-rate investigative journalist and author of at least two crime novels, Off the Record (1990), and Trigger Man (1991) -- described in the Library Journal as "an exceptionally strong and moving addition to the action genre".
H.R.F. Keating -- BRIEF VISITOR
Would not normally be claimed as an Irish crime writer, but Henry Raymond Fitzwalter Keating, the leading English crime specialist who was once a Scholar of Trinity College Dublin, did actually write a crime novel set in Ireland: The Dog It Was that Died.
John Kelly (1931-1991)
A classicist turned legal scholar, John Maurice Kelly was Professor of Law at University College Dublin, author of the standard study of the Irish constitution, and for twenty years a independent-minded politician in the Fine Gael Party. A hugely talented writer and orator, his literary novel Matters of Honour appeared under a pseudonym (John Boyle) in 1964; he did not allow it to be republished. His highly political and personal Irish crime novel The Polling of the Dead (1993) was discovered after his death.
A tenacious chronicler of real-life Irish crime, inequality, corruption and miscarriages of justice, Kerrigan has moved into crime fiction. His third novel, Dark Times in the City (2009), was praised in The Irish Times as "a gripping read [...] a serious book – seriously entertaining".
A Dubliner, Kilduff worked in financial services and published four financial thrillers with Hodder and Stoughton before branching into non-fiction appreciations of Ryanair and its urbane chief executive.
Contemporary Irish freelance writer and commentator, formerly a Dublin bus conductor (1974-81) and then a newspaper and magazine editor in Canada. Returned to Ireland in 2000 ("a terrible mistake"). In 2001 Poolbeg Press published his mystery, Milo Devine, featuring a former Garda turned private investigator. The Irish Independent reviewer hailed the book as "a promising addition to the burgeoning Dublin PI trade association".
Born in Waterford, living in Dublin, Jim Lusby is the author of seven crime novels, most featuring Garda Inspector Carl McCadden. He has also written short stories, stage and radio pieces.
Former reporter and newscaster for BBC Northern Ireland. Roisin McAuley's second novel, Meeting Point (2007), features a CSI investigator who comes face-to-face with a cold-case murder suspect in the South of France and finds herself violently attracted to him.
Graphic designer and author of six crime novels. In The Cat Trap (2008), his series heroine, journalist Emma Boylan, leaves her husband and moves in with her lover Detective Inspector Jim Connolly -- who is accused of double murder. "Maintains the suspense throughout" - Irish Independent.
Mick McCaffrey TC - see separate True Crime page.
Dublin-born author who worked on the London Stock Exchange. Her first novel, The Insider, features red-blooded white-collar crime in Dublin's Financial Services Centre. Reviewing it for the Irish Times, Bernice Harrison called it "a storming debut thriller" with "a strong, attractive and super-smart central character who is ripe for another adventure".
New Irish crime novelist. His powerfully plotted debut, Peeler, released in June 2010, weaves a historical mystery into the complex layers of violence that shaped the Irish War of Independence, back in 1920. The Irish Times called it "a compelling narrative". McCarthy writes in a darkened room, and is determined to carry on: "Back to debasement!"
Pseudonym of County Galway vet Muiris O'Scannell, author of 3 mysteries, Playing Dead (1996), Outbreak (1998) and Malpractice (2006). His detective, also a vet, is Frank Samson.
Belfast-born former Irish Times journalist, author of (among other works) a series of crime novels featuring tough but compassionate Superintendent Cecil Mcgarry of the Northern Ireland Special Branch.
A native of Derry, where he teaches at St Columb's College. The first in his Inspector Devlin Series, Borderlands, was published in April 2007; Marcel Berlins in The Times praised its "style and compassion ... command of plot and assurance of language". His third book, Bleed a River Deep, appeared in March 2009. "Devlin is becoming a favourite among serious fans of murder mysteries," said The Irish Times.
Described by crime fiction specialist Otto Penzler as "the super-talented Irishman", McKinty comes from Carrickfergus. In 2008 he moved from Colorado to Melbourne, Australia. Author of nine novels including The Bloomsday Dead (2007).
Multi-talented star of stage and screen (including Father Ted), Pauline McLynn has so far published five books including three mystery novels featuring likeable private investigator Leo Street.
Former Senator, political scientist, President of the Irish Human Rights Commission, Chancellor of the National University of Ireland, Maurice Manning's books include a mildly criminal political cliffhanger, Betrayal (1997), featuring a plot to destroy the political career of an Irish Taoiseach. In 1998 the Irish Times reported that Manning had written seven chapters of a new novel, concerning "a bishop who dies leaving a lot of unexplained money and contains murder and mystery and a solicitor's naughty wife".
A major international bestseller, Meade writes suspense thrillers dealing with dramatic historical and political events, not set in Ireland.
New(ish) Irish crimewriter; compiler of this list.
Northern Irish thriller writer and prizewinning short-story writer; his novels include The Darkness of Bones, The Redemption Factory and Bloodstorm.
Irish radio and TV presenter Moncrieff's crime novel Dublin (2002) deals with cocaine-snorting dropout Simon Dillon and his troubles with gangsters, women and cops. "A brilliant thriller" (Evening Herald).
John Mooney TC - see separate True Crime page.
Although he later published political thrillers like The Statement and The Colour of Blood under his own name, Belfast-born Brian Moore disowned the pulp crime fiction that he wrote in the 1950s under the pseudonyms Bernard Mara and Michael Bryan.
The originator of Inspector Henry Tibbett of Scotland Yard, Dublin-born Patricia Moyes (née Pakenham-Walsh) (1923-2000) authored 19 mysteries, from Dead Men Don't Ski (1959) to Twice in a Blue Moon (1993). The New York Times called her "one of the deftest practitioners of the British procedural detective novel".
Born in Cork in 1956, Murphy is a scientist. His first crime novel featuring part-time private eye Michael A. Madigan was Death Without Trace (Collins Press, 2004).
Has worked at everything from baking to teaching to multimedia design. His crime debut, The Twelve, takes a hard look at the aftermath of terrorism in Northern Ireland. James Ellroy hailed it as "the best first novel I have read in years", while The Observer called it "a future classic".
Éilís Ní Dhuibhne
Award-winning writer in English and Irish. In her Irish-language mystery novel Dúnmharú sa Daingean [Murder in Dingle] (2000), an arty postmodern Dubliner moves to peaceful West Kerry only to stumble across a neighbour's corpse. Some contemporary aspirations are also left for dead.
Former lawyer turned Benedictine monk, Nugent's debut novel was set in the Irish law courts. This was followed by Second Burial (2007), which opens with the bizarre murder of a Nigerian man in the Dublin Mountains.
A well-known radio broadcaster, O'Callaghan has written in several genres; his crime novels include Dare to Die, The Keeper and The Limbo Vigil (Poolbeg Press).
Author of six well-received mysteries with a strong sense of the past.
Niamh O'Connor TC - see also separate True Crime page. Her debut novel If I Never See You Again (Transworld Ireland, 2010) features a single mother battling against a serial killer. The Irish Indepndent reviewer called it "a formidable debut, as gritty, downbeat and realistic a take on the mean streets of Dublin's drug-riven inner city as you would expect from one of Ireland's top investigative reporters".
Irish journalist. Has worked as a barman, bookseller, teacher and critic. His 2010 crime novel, The Priest, features a serial killer whose weapon of choice is a crucifix. The Sunday Business Post called it "an impressive debut, with a well paced plot".
Apart from political thrillers such as The Assassin and The Informer, O'Flaherty's straight criminal works included The Puritan (1932), in which godly Francis Ferriter murders a prostitute in order to prove the existence of God; unfortunately, when finally cornered by Chief Superintendent Lavan, he finds he has mislaid his faith. Filmed in French in 1938, starring Jean-Louis Barrault.
Dentist, revolutionary, literary author (1893-1937) - the critic Vivian Mercier called him "modern Ireland's only prose satirist" - O'Duffy also wrote three crime novels at the end of his short life: The Secret Enemy (1932), The Bird Cage (1932), Heart of a Girl (1935).
Kevin O'Hara -- VISITOR
Pseudonym of Marten Cumberland (1892-1972), an enormously productive English crime writer (author of the Paris-based Saturnin Dax series) who moved to Dublin. Thrillers featuring his Argentinian detective, Chico Brett (whose mother is Irish), includeExit and Curtain (c. 1952), And Here Is the Noose! (1959), Don’t Tell the Police (1963), and It's your funeral (1966). Some papers are held at Reading University Library.
Cork journalist whose books from Poolbeg / Ward River Press included The Vatican Caper (1981) about the assassination of Pope Patrick I. The book was written after the sudden death of Albino Luciani, Pope John Paul I.
Emily O'Reilly TC - see separate True Crime page.
Described on Wikipedia as "one of very few modern Irish crime writers", O'Rourke has published four novels with Breffni Books and Killynon House Books.
Cathal Ó Sándair
Charles Saunders (1922-1996) was born in Weston-super-Mare, educated in Dublin and joined the Irish civil service under the name of Ó Sándair. Author of 150 books in the Irish language, Ó Sándair created the private investigator Réics Carló, whose exploits filled 50 books. He has been translated into English and Manx.
Born in Dublin, James Brendan O'Sullivan claimed to have been a boxer, a cross-country runner and an amateur magician with a habit of swallowing razor blades. His crime novels include I Die Possessed (1953), Nerve-Beat (1953), Don't Hang Me Too High (1954), and The Stuffed Man (1955). His series detective was Steve Silk, an American ex-boxer whose mother was born in County Clare. Some of O'Sullivan's books are set in Ireland. Several were translated into German.
Orlaith O'Sullivan -- SHORT STORY WRITER
Joint winner of the inaugural Fish-Knife Award: The Crime Short-Fiction Prize 2006. Dublin-born, she has moved to Madeira to write fiction.
Jason O'Toole TC - see separate True Crime page.
Born in New Zealand, Julie Parsons has lived in Dublin since 1963. She is the author of five highly successful psychological thrillers, the latest being I Saw You (2008); her work has been translated into seventeen languages. "Narrated with stunning confidence and sophistication [...] powerful and convincing" (Publishers Weekly).
Dublin-born Sheila Pim (1909-1994) read French and Italian at Cambridge. She published four detective novels between 1945 and 1952; they were later reissued by the Rue Morgue Press. Her other works included straight fiction and biography; she also campaigned for the rights of the Irish Traveller community. An elegant stylist, she brings a welcome note of sardonic comedy to her crime fiction.
M S Power
Maurice S. Power, born in Dublin in 1935, has written several highly-praised thrillers set in Belfast. A film, The Killing of Yesterday's Children, was adapted from his "Children of the North" trilogy.
Born and educated in Northern Ireland, Radcliffe is a former advertising copywriter in London and now Creative Director of an Edinburgh advertising agency. His three comic thrillers are London Irish (2002), Big Jessie (2003) and The Killer's Guide To Iceland (2005).
A former classical studies teacher, Rainsford's A Secret Place (2007) has been described as "not so much a crime novel as an exploration of human pain".
Dublin-born actor and writer for stage,radio and television. Death Is So Kind, a novel of suspense, was published in 1959 by Devin-Adair (New York).
Irish writer, former barrister, living in London. His mystery novel, The Holy Thief (2010) is set in Stalin's Moscow. The Yorkshire Evening Post called it "an impressive debut", while the Daily Express praised the author's "considerable skill in evoking this benighted period".
English-born resident of Northern Ireland, Sansom has created "one of literature's more unlikely detectives", Israel Armstrong, a Jewish vegetarian who drives a mobile library van along the North Antrim coast.
Michael Sheridan TC - see separate True Crime page.
Author of Quinn (Hodder & Stoughton, 2000), described as "a dark & fascinating thriller - starring a modern day Moriarty and his plans to wipe out his entire family without a hint of foul play". Also available in Danish.
Born to Irish parents, then adopted and raised in Bradford, Cath Staincliffe is a highly successful, quintessentially English crime writer. Her straight novel Trio touched on the story of her Irish family background.
Notable theatre director, comedy producer and writer, Stembridge's crime-related works include the film Ordinary Decent Criminal (which starred Kevin Spacey and Linda Fiorentino) and the surreal stage-play The Gay Detective (which starred Peter Hanly). To say nothing of Stembridge's contribution to the composite mystery story, Yeats is Dead.
Pseudonym of Peter Beresford Ellis, English author whose father comes from Cork. Has written 17 mystery novels about Sister Fidelma, 7th-century lawyer and daughter of the King of Cashel.
Liz Walsh TC - see separate True Crime page.
Paul Williams TC - see separate True Crime page.
Frank Wynne TC - see separate True Crime page.
Each of the above is entirely unique. W.H. Auden (great crime buff) remarked rather cattily about writerly self-absorption: "No poet or novelist wishes he were the only one who ever lived, but most of them wish they were the only one alive, and quite a number fondly believe their wish has been granted" ("Writing", in The Dyer's Hand, London, Faber, paperback edition 1975, p. 14). Short of a serial killer, Ireland's monstrous regiment of criminal writers seems likely to stay up to strength for the foreseeable future.
Please note that no connection is claimed or implied between the site www.cormacmillar.com and any of the other sites listed or linked. Various reference sites and services have been used in compiling this page, including Google, Fantastic Fiction, Wikipedia, and Philip Casey's Irish Writers Online.
- Some other good web sources for discussions of Irish crime writing: Declan Burke's energetic, readable, highly informative "Crime Always Pays" blog; Critical Mick's reviews of Irish Crime Fiction and Irish True Crime; Gerard Brennan's Crime Scene NI blog; the article "Making Nora Barnacle Smile: Irish Crime Fiction" by Paula Murphy; "Sister Fidelma and a Wealth of Broken Noses" by J. Madison Davis. To be continued....
- This page may even have a proper bibliography one day, including The Thriller And Northern Ireland Since 1969: Utterly Resigned Terror, by Aaron Kelly (Ashgate, 2005); A Guide to Irish Fiction, 1650-1900 by Rolf Loeber & Magda Loeber, with Anne M. Burnham (Dublin, Four Courts, 2006); A Biographical Dictionary of Irish Writers (revised edition) by Anne M. Brady & Brian Cleeve (Mullingar, Lilliput Press, 1985).