Debut novel up for US book critics award

Strictly Writing catches up with Northern Ireland journalist and author Anthony Quinn

A DETECTIVE thriller written by Northern Ireland journalist Anthony Quinn has been selected as one of the five best debut novels of 2012 by book critics from the LA Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, The San Francisco Chronicle and other daily newspapers.

Disappeared, which is set along the Lough Neagh shore in the aftermath of the Troubles, has been nominated for the Strand Critics Debut Novel Award, the only crime fiction award to be judged solely by book critics. Previous nominees for a Strand award include Stieg Larsson, Lee Child, PD James and Michael Connelly.

The awards, which recognise excellence in the field of mystery fiction, will be presented at an invitation-only cocktail party, hosted by The Strand in New York on July 9.

It is not just Disappeared’s tightly plotted story which has resonated with US audiences but also its moody scene-setting and ‘powerful’ prose.

Reviewers have praised the novel for its ‘powerful mood-enhancing prose’; ‘its convincing tightly-plotted story’; its ‘lavish portrayal of Irish history’ and ‘the ratcheting up of tension as the yarn progresses’.

Anthony has written a number of short stories which have been shortlisted for Hennessy Irish Fiction Awards, but this is his first novel. The idea for the thriller came from a single image of an elderly man burdened by his past wandering across windswept bogland.

“I wanted to write a novel about the past coming back to haunt a group of men caught up in the Troubles”, he said.
“The image of a confused old man struggling to remember a bad deed buried in the past with a desperate sense of urgency stayed with me. I wanted to know what drove him on and what lay waiting for him in this remote landscape.”
The book begins when Inspector Celsius Daly is called to a rural home in the lough-shore area, from which David Hughes, an elderly gent afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease, has lately vanished.

Hughes’ sister and caretaker fears he has wandered off and into trouble. But as the inspector investigates, he discovers that Hughes isn’t the quiet country putterer he seems. Instead, he’s part of a larger and much more complicated story connected to the long-ago slaying (by the Irish Republican Army) of an alleged political informer, Oliver Jordan, and the more recent torture murder of an ex-intelligence agent.

The fact that said agent placed his own obituary in a local newspaper, prior to his death, makes this whole affair particularly bizarre. Daly - a detective still wrestling with a recent separation from his wife and more capable at his job than at handling his personal life - adds further to the stakes in this mystery by inviting Jordan’s answers-seeking son into the case. It soon becomes apparent that the missing Hughes harbours secrets in his deteriorating mind that others don’t wish to see released.

You can purchase Anthony's novel on Amazon and other selected outlets.

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