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Life in All Its Granite Hardness: A Selection of Irish Noir


Bleak, dark, grimly realistic, morally and psychologically complex with a dash of gallows humor. Scandinavian Noir has some serious competition from its Irish cousin. Check out some Irish crime writers this St. Patrick’s Day weekend:


Broken Harbor

Tana French writes the acclaimed Dublin Murder Squad mysteries. There are six books in this series so far, beginning with In the Woods. The most recent novel, The Trespasser, was published in October 2016. Fellow crime writer Declan Burke called Broken Harbor (2012) “the finest example to date of the post-Celtic Tiger novel” in a recent article in The Irish Examiner.




Christine Falls

Booker Prize winner John Banville also writes terrific mysteries under the name Benjamin Black . The Quirke mysteries feature a curmudgeonly pathologist in 1950s Dublin with a taste for whiskey and investigation and a contempt for moral hypocrisy. The first book in the Quirke series is Christine Falls, published in 2008. Black has also written a novel featuring Raymond Chandler’s detective Philip Marlowe, The Black-eyed Blonde.



The Rage

Gene Kerrigan’s work as a journalist informs his bleakly elegant crime novels. His book The Rage won the 2012 Gold Dagger for the best crime novel of the year. Other titles available at NYPL include Dark Times in the City and The Midnight Choir.





Wrong Kind of Blood

Private investigator Ed Loy returns to Dublin after 20 years in Los Angeles in Declan Hughes’s hard boiled crime series, which  begins with The Wrong Kind of Blood, published in 2006. 





Dublin NoirDublin Noir: The Celtic Tiger vs. the Ugly American,  edited by Ken Bruen, is also a good place to start reading. Stories by Irish and American authors are included.






The Guards

Ken Bruen’s best known series features Jack Taylor, an alcoholic former Garda (police) officer eking out living in Galway as a private eye. This dark series begins with The Guards, published in 2001. The twelfth novel, The Emerald Lie, was published in August 2016. The television adaptation, Jack Taylor, is also available at the Library. 




Belfast and Northern Ireland

Ghosts of Belfast

Stuart Neville is the author of two crime series, the Inspector Jack Lennon novels and the DCI Serena Flanagan novels.  Belfast’s troubled history is always a presence in Neville’s psychologically complex novels. The Jack Lennon begins with The Ghosts of Belfast, published in 2009. There are two novels in the Serena Flanagan series so far; the first is Those We Left Behind, published in 2015.





Brian McGilloway’s novels are set in Ireland’s borderlands. The Inspector Devlin series begin with Borderlands, published in 2008. Garda inspector Benedict investigates the death of a teenager found on the borderlands between the North and South of Ireland.  Devlin’s cases often involve working on both sides of the Irish border. Detective Sergeant Lucy Black of the works in Derry in Northern Ireland. In Little Girl Lost, the first book in the series she is forced to confront issues in her own family as she investigates the identity of a young girl found wandering in the woods, hands covered in blood.


Cold cold ground Adrian McKinty’s Troubles Trilogy, set in 1980s Belfast has now grown into a sextet. Adding to the grit, the Detective Sean McDuffy series features book titles taken from Tom Waits lyrics. The series begins with The Cold Cold Ground, published in 2012.




belfast noir

Find more gritty crime stories set in Northern Ireland in Belfast Noir, edited by Stuart Neville and Adrian McKinty.


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Very cool...going to check

Very cool...going to check out The Guards now. Thanks for the list!


Confession: I read the first 4 novels in the Jack Taylor series and had to stop. I love dark crime novels with investigators in existential crisis and enjoyed Ken Bruen's style. Vivid setting, well drawn characters but the utter bleakness finally got to me.

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