Slaughters Hound (Harry Rigby)

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By Declan Burke.

Slaughter's hound

So Harry Rigby gets by driving a cab and delivering drugs in the Irish town of Sligo. Burke Absolute Zero Cool, has always been known for black humor, and he has found a wonderful new outlet for it in Harry Rigby. And if the spirit moves you to click the Twitter or Facebook link below, I would be very grateful indeed.

Posted by Declan Burke at PM. But I suppose the ending, the climax or twist or whatever you want to call it, was the least important part of that book — for me, Absolute Zero Cool was all about having a bit of fun with the notion of actually writing a book. I mean, how well, or otherwise, would John Connolly get on with Charlie Parker if Charlie was to sit down on a barstool beside him one night, and start mumbling about demons and the guy outside in the parking lot who is trying to kill him?

WR: Isn't that always the way with crime fiction protagonists? There's definitely a bit of me in Korolev's character. If writing a novel is essentially making things up then I suppose it helps if you have something real to start with - from which to hang your falsehoods - and you just hope that, by the time you've finished, the element of yourself that you started with is reasonably well-hidden.

Now that you've mentioned the idea - the thought of a having a beer with Korolev is suddenly appealing, although whether he'd have much interest in spending time with a writer from a decadent capitalist country is another question. That's characters for you though - always biting the hand that wrote them.

Zoltan, Hound of Dracula

It's interesting though, a lot of my latest novel, The Twelfth Department , concerns Korolev's relationship with his son, Yuri, who he inadvertently places in great danger. For me that was very much an exploration of how I feel about my own son, who is quite young still but who I find myself worrying about quite a lot.

Slaughter's Hound by Declan Burke

Not that I'm nervous about his safety as such - I like him to take risks and be adventurous - but when I think of his future or the possibility of something bad happening to him it's - well - a very emotional thing. And Korolev's love for his son and efforts to protect him were very much an exploration of parental love. I suppose it's natural to take day-to-day concerns and work them through in a novel, although in a completely fictional setting.

DB: I can totally understand that.

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Is that a good or bad thing? I know that when I was writing Absolute Zero Cool I was working out my fear of not being a good father. I review film as one of my freelance journalism jobs, but I really should have handed in my press pass as soon as my daughter was born.

I suppose you tend to conceptualise violence in a different way when a child enters your life. Is there anything about the genre that might persuade you that you want to write a different kind of story? WR: I wouldn't imagine I'd go off and try anything too esoteric but I might spread my wings at some stage.

I have nothing in mind though. What about you? It sounds as though you're not entirely sure which way you're going to go with your next novel. DB: "You're not entirely sure which way you're going to go with your next novel," is pretty much tattooed on the inside of my frontal lobe. But yes, in terms of the next book, that's especially true.

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I have the broad storyline, the main characters, the setting - although I don't have the voice. But even if I did have the voice, I'm still not sure I'd be plunging into it. About all I really know about the next book is that I don't want it to be any kind of book I've written before. WR: I think, to be honest, that's how every writer should approach every novel. I'm just about to start one myself and, although it features Korolev once again, it also features a Soviet Arctic exploration ship trapped in ice surrounded by what may well be murderous ghosts. Now quite how I'm going to approach that - I've no idea.

But I have a good feeling about it. Whether that's enough, only time and effort will tell. The reason I asked about your next novel was that Slaughter's Hound veered back towards the very Chandleresque style of your earlier novels yet still retained much of the gritty and innovative qualities of Absolute Zero Cool. They were very different novels but they were both dark - in the best traditions of noir - and I was wondering if that was something you were going to follow up.

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At the same time, I'm conscious that's an awkward question to ask. DB: " Not least because it sounds like it'll be bending a few genre conventions out of shape. I'm definitely heading the same direction with the next book, by which I mean having some fun with the genre's expectations, and in my mind it'll be the darkest piece I've written yet - and that's possibly one reason why I'm so reluctant to start it.

It's a kind of a 'heart of darkness' story, I suppose, and I'm conscious that it'll be about violence against women and children, and specifically about the violence done to women and children in the name of fiction. Of course, in order to explore that theme, I'll need to make the violence explicit or will I?

Maybe I'm flirting with the idea of making it an Absolute Zero Cool kind of story in which 'characters' interacted with 'reality' so that I can deflect some of that horror.

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  7. Or maybe I'm just trying to create a get-out clause for myself, and wash my hands of the violence while still incorporating it into the story - that's possible too. Funnily enough, I'm just putting the final touches to the e-book version of The Big O , which was originally published in and was never available as an e-book before. I wrote that book - which is a comedy caper about a kidnapping gone wrong - as a reaction to writing Eightball Boogie and the first pass of what became Absolute Zero Cool , both of which were pretty dark in tone, and the intention was to try to write a credible crime comedy in which no one was murdered and the violence was kept to the absolute minimum someone does suffer a gunshot wound, but it's via an accidental discharge.

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    Review: Crime: Slaughter’s Hound by Declan Burke

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