Dark Hollow

John Connolly (Hodder & Stoughton £10)

For some individuals, writing a novel is a calling or a lifelong passion or a financial necessity. For John Connolly, it was partly due to his feelings for cats. 'The news desk at the Irish Times would send me to cat shows, which they thought was funny - in the way that news desks sometimes do,’ recalls Connolly of the newspaper he has written for since he completed his Masters in journalism in 1993. 'l'm more of a

5 dog person really, and you’d have

an old woman with a cat in a cage on a gold cushion and a little curtain pulled across the litter tray and I just thought this was madness.’

Connolly’s method to rid himself of this madness was to get a tough- talking Maine detective by the name of Charlie ’Bird’ Parker (groan away) into print alongside a selection of murdering ghouls and mortal serial slaughterers. His taut, complex and thrilling debut, Every Dead Thing, saw the tabloid and broadsheet critics united in their praise while his publishers were adamant that a new Thomas Harris had been unleashed into our

Creepy Hollow: John Connolly


It's a comparison he is happy enough to accept with reservations. 'Harris is interested in the criminal mind and the psychology of evil and I have very little interest in that,’ insists the 30-year-old Dubliner. ’That’s why he writes in the third person so he can switch between someone like Hannibal or Clarice. I write in the first person of Parker because I’m more interested in Parker as a man who is trying to make reparation for his sins and acting out his compassion, than in any of the evil characters in the book.’

In his second chiller, Dark Hollow, Parker is on the trail of a killer who has left behind a pile of bodies in his home state. Ghostly legends and gruesome lynchings

merge in another pageturner to send you off to bed with a shivery spine. ’Maine is considered something like the second best state in the US to live in,’ notes Connolly of his setting. ‘Yet in the one week that I was there recently, some guy chased his best friend down the street and shot him dead; a woman and her eighteen-month-old daughter were shot dead in their home; and some woman was arrested for shooting her husband three times in the head and then burying bits of him all over her land. They found seventeen pieces but not enough to make a full husband. Sometimes fiction just can't live up to the real thing.’ (Brian Donaldson)

I Dark Hollow is published on Thu 73 Jan. See Book Events.

Rovers return: Des Dillon

FOOTBALL FICTION Return Of The Busby Babes

Des Dillon (Review £6.99)

Football has become a favourite topic for authors in recent years, normally from the perspective of the fan; Fever Pitch being the template. Des Dillon has turned his attentions away from the punter on the terrace to the clubs themselves and the hallowed turf of Cliftonville, home to the humble Albion Rovers.

In Return Of The Busby Babes, the officral worst team in Scottish football are on the brink of collapse, with the property prospectors eyeing up their grassless pitch and deserted stands for potential development. Only victory in the Cup will keep the wolf from the door. Then there’s also the peculiar supernatural phenomenon that Rovers are actually possessed by the ghosts of Matt Busby’s Babes, the legendary

Manchester Utd team, many of whom perished in the 1958 aircraft disaster. Comparisons with the early work of Roddy Doyle are understandable With both writers dealing in the not so


First writes

Putting debut novelists under the microscope. This issue: Hiag Akmakjian

Who they? Hiag Akmakjian was born in New York to Armenian parents and currently resrdes in Southwest Wales. The author has had a diverse career as an editor, photographer and painter.

The debut It’s called 30, 000 Mornings and tells the tale of Finnish model, photographer and diarist Inge who is intent on livmg it up in New York City With all the beautiful people. Drinking,

~ eating and humping are the holy trinity

of goals she sets herself, All fine and good. Yet, there is a dark side to all of this hedonism when her friend Karen disappears after the controversial Vogue fashion shoot which has made her name. lnge's days are now filled

With fear of kidnapping and trips to

her therapist.

Basically , , . Basrcally, it’s an offbeat look at the fashion industry, New York and paranOia.

First line test 'You can wake up

. from a bad dream but you can't i

wake up from life. Inge's bon mot for the day.’

Something compares to you It fits snugly somewhere between Tama lanovitz's The Slaves Of New York and Armistead Maupin's Tales From The City.

: Recommendations corner 'The perfect

book for reading on a Winter's day and letting your head drift to thoughts of

f snow and vodka,’ insists Elle while The

Times maintains that Akmakjian has ’a sharp eye for the details of human insecurities and social exchanges . . .

with a nice line in sassy humour and

bitchy put-downs.’ To whom it is credited ’For my

companion, lover, colleague, muse,

straight man, amanuensrs, nurturer and only joy and happiness my

darling M.’ (Brian Donaldson)

normal family lives of their native

people. Dillon's use of phonetic Scots gets across the true language of his characters whether they involve punch- ups or genteel discussion. His view of the world, especially through a child’s eyes, is like Doyle’s, touching and true, without being overly sentimental.

His previous work includes two volumes depicting the adventures of Gal and Derrick, two mischievous young boys and their lives growing up in the central belt; and Duck, which was filmed as a Tartan Short starring Peter Mullan. Despite the sporting detours, Dillon remains an honest and humorous portrayer of life in central Scotland. (Mark Robertson)

I Return Of The Busby Babes is published on Thu 20 Jan. See Book Events.

I 30,000 Mornings is published in paperback by Penguin priced f6. 99.


Gib-how. .oaiomianorlmn “WNMW mm

30,000 Mornings

7-20 Jan 2000 THE U817.