TYRONE Times journalist Anthony Quinn’s debut crime novel, Disappeared, which has been praised as one of the best crime novels of the year, hits the shops tomorrow (Thursday) across the UK and Ireland.
The detective thriller which is set along the Lough Neagh shores was first published in the US, where it garnered critical plaudits, and was shortlisted for a Strand Literary Award by book critics from the LA Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, The San Francisco Chronicle and other daily newspapers in the States.
Disappeared was also selected as one of the ten best detective novels of the year by Kirkus Reviews crime expert Jeff Pierce.
According to reviewers, it was not just Disappeared’s tightly plotted story which has resonated with US audiences but also its moody scene-setting and ‘powerful’ prose.
Reviewers have also praised the novel for ‘its convincing tightly-plotted story’; ‘lavish portrayal of Irish history’ and ‘the ratcheting up of tension as the yarn progresses’.
Following the US success and an ebook version hitting the Amazon bestseller lists in September, London publisher Head of Zeus has now launched a UK and Ireland edition.
In addition, Anthony has signed a three book deal with another UK publisher, No Exit Press, for his series of historical mystery novels set during the War of Independence in Ireland, the first of which, The Blood-Dimmed Tide, is published in October.
Anthony said: “Disappeared has had a long journey to reach local bookstores, with many landmark moments along the way, and this feels like a very significant moment.
“It’s great that the book no longer feels like literary contraband. I know of Tyrone readers who had to order copies through their relatives living in the US. Now they can pick up a print copy in their local bookshop.
“I was at Hodges Figgis in Dublin on Saturday signing some books ahead of the launch, and it was great to see that they already had copies displayed behind the cash tills.
“Disappeared was picked as an Amazon US ‘most exciting read of the week’ and was also nominated by Barnes and Noble’s Nook editors as a recommended read.
“I’m hoping that the book will have similar success on these shores. After all, it’s completely immersed in the recent history of this part of Northern Ireland, its landscape and its characters.”
The thriller, set in the aftermath of the Troubles, is about the past coming back to haunt the present with particular urgency and drama.
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 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
“My starting point for writing Disappeared was the idea of a former spymaster suffering from Alzheimers”, said Anthony. “I wanted to use his illness and the deterioration of his mind as a symbol for how Northern Ireland was dealing with the legacy of the Troubles.
“Silence and denial might have been good coping strategies during the Troubles, but in a time of peace, they are potentially dangerous, as some of the characters in Disappeared find out to their cost.
“The book is full of twists and turns which mirrors the murky and tortuous world of spies and informers.”
Anthony will be holding book signings at local bookstores during the month of September.