30 December 2015

Best Irish crime fiction of 2015

2015 was a bumper year for Irish crime fiction. Among major releases were novels by - to name just ten - Alex Barclay, Louise Phillips, John Connolly, Ava McCarthy, Adrian McKinty, Benjamin Black, Sinéad Crowley, Mark O'Sullivan, Karen Perry and Anthony J Quinn.

There were also some dazzling debuts in the crime fiction department, such as novels by Steve Cavanagh, Jax Miller, Alan Walsh, Michael O'Higgins, Frankie Gaffney, Jo Spain and Kelly Creighton.

And it was a good year too for crime fiction on the small and big screen.

Here are some of our personal choices from the past year's Irish crime fiction novels, movies, TV shows and audio books...

1. Best Crime Movie


By Gerard Barrett and Juliette Bonass, Glassland follows a young taxi driver (Jack Reynor, the brilliant star of What Richard Did) on the fringes of Dublin's criminal underworld. It has outstanding performances from Reynor, Toni Colette and Will Poulter.

Apologies to Emma O'Donoghue's The Room. While everyone is raving about Lenny Abrahamson's adaptation, we still haven't seen it yet!

2. Best Crime TV Series

Red Rock

Only one contender this year. Already TV3's most popular show, Red Rock picked up three awards at its first IFTAs this year, even beating Fair City with a well deserved Best Soap award. It is set in the police station of a fictional seaside town near Dublin, with an ongoing family feud between the Keilys and Hennessys. The series was even brave enough to kill off one of its major characters in tonight's episode.

3. Best Overall Crime Novel

Ghost Flight

Mel Healy's third novel in his Moss Reid PI series is easily his best yet. A deceptive slow-burner, it opens out from a standard missing person case to a thrilling chase, with powerful reflections on drones and secret warfare, the ongoing refugee crisis in the Mediterranean, and flawed memories. The eBook edition has further bonuses - an extended essay by the author and the "novelette" Way To Go.

4. Best Psychological Novel

Asking For It

Deservedly much talked about, Louise O'Neill's latest novel is a dark psychological tale about the fallout of a gang rape, with themes of sexual consent and betrayal, victim blaming and truth in the age of the smartphone. Warning: it has no happy ending.

5. Best True Crime Book

The Framing of Harry Gleeson

While there were several books by journalists about the Graham Dwyer murder trial, Kieran Fagan's book about a murder case from County Tipperary in 1940 stands out. It unravels a conspiracy of silence as an innocent man is framed. A campaign by the Irish Innocence Project led to a "cold case" review and a posthumous pardon for Gleeson - the first in the State's history - last January.

Among the also-rans we enjoyed Tosh, Tosh Lavery's frank autobiography about his career in the Garda Sub-Aqua Unit.

The prize for the most disappointing so-called true crime book this year goes to Numb. Billed as a "diary of a war correspondent" who "didn't just document the violence - he became directly involved in it", it was soon revealed as a hoax, yet the publishers are still selling it online as a "true" memoir.

6. Best Irish Diaspora Cop Character

Maeve Kerrigan

Jane Casey's London police detective had her sixth outing this year with After The Fire. Kerrigan is second-generation Irish, an independent female with a troubled private life, but best of all are Kerrigan's interactions with the DI Josh Derwent character, her senior officer who is a loveable rogue.

7. Best Audio Book

Gun Street Girl, read by Gerard Doyle

This is the fourth in Adrian McKinty's infectious series featuring troubled RUC man Sean Duffy in 1980s Northern Ireland. Doyle is superb as ever with a multitude of accents.
  • Tomorrow: our international crime fiction picks of 2015