Debut thriller unveiled as part of US book chain’s e-reader launch

Disappeared selected as a launch book for the new Nook e-reader
Disappeared selected as a launch book for the new Nook e-reader

DISAPPEARED, the debut thriller set in Northern Ireland’s darkest corner by Tyrone Times journalist Anthony Quinn, has been chosen as one of 33 recommended books to launch Barnes and Noble’s Nook e-reader in the UK.

The US book chain giant launched its new e-readers on Monday, competing against products from Amazon, Kobo, Sony and others.

The devices, which boast simple touch technology, 2GB of storage and also feature a built-in light, are on sale at Sainsbury’s, Argos and John Lewis stores, as well as Blackwells, the bookseller, at prices cheaper than their main rivals.

The crime fiction books selected to launch the new e-reader include best-selling authors such as James Elroy, Jo Nesbo, Ruth Rendell, Michael Connelly, James Patterson and Henning Mankell.

Disappeared is the only debut novel to make the list.

Anthony Quinn said it was a great honour to have his book selected as part of the launch campaign.

“It’s exciting to be part of massive changes in the book industry and to have the book recognised in such a way by the biggest bookstore company in the US.

“Barnes and Noble will now be promoting the ebook version of Disappeared to buyers of their Nook e-readers, which I think will prove popular given that they have some useful modifications on existing e-readers such as an in-built light, allowing it to be read in the dark and preventing rows between couples at bedtime!”

Disappeared has also been selected by Sony US as part of its debut authors collection. The company’s reader store website declared that it was ‘already rooting for an encore’.

Best-selling author Ken Bruen, who penned The Guard, said he was tipping Disappeared to win a host of fiction awards.

The award-winning author said: “Line up the Edgar for best first novel.

“Disappeared is a major piece of work. Eerily tender, a wonderfully wrought classic that is a landmark in the fiction of Northern Ireland.”

Reviewers in the US have praised Disappeared 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’.

New York based Otto Penzler, one of the most respected experts, editors, booksellers, and publishers in the crime and mystery genre, described Disappeared as ‘a smart thriller’.

“First novels seldom show up as confident and mature as Anthony Quinn’s Disappeared”, he said.

“This novel of terror and a man seemingly brought back from the dead is an enthralling work of fiction by a powerful new voice.”

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 (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

The questions that Daly pursues are those that puzzle the reader. Was Jordan killed because he was an informer or was he, as his widow insists, loyal to the IRA? What does Jordan’s son, Dermot, know about his father’s past? Why did Special Branch cover-up the details of Jordan’s disappearance? What is the significance of Devine’s collection of antique duck decoys, to which the story makes frequent reference? Are the ghosts that visit Hughes real or imagined?

“My starting point for writing Disappeared was the idea of a former spymaster suffering from Alzheimers”, said Anthony Quinn. “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.

“As one of the book’s reviewers has written: Arson, murder, corruption in the police force and the IRA’s activities during The Troubles mingle together in a complex web of intrigue. The Troubles may be over officially, but old sins cast long shadows, and somebody has been a very, very big sinner…’”.

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As well as the ebook, Disappeared is available as a paperback through the usual online retailers and at local bookstores such as Sheehy’s in Cookstown.