Crime fiction is deadly serious. The NOIRELAND Festival returns this weekend…

I have a habit that many of you will be familiar with. I buy lots of very worthy books on politics, society, etc. but reading them is a different matter. They sit for years on the bookshelf mocking my lack of civic-mindedness. Instead, when I turn in for the night escapism is what I need. I discovered years ago that detective stories are the perfect balm to soothe away life’s troubles for a while. Not for me the gory tales of gruesome serial killers. I prefer the more gentle pace of cozy mysteries like Hamish McBeth, The Railway Detective, Vish Puri or many of the golden age classics like Agatha Christie. I also love a good thriller like the Jack Reacher or Orphan X series, but I find them a little too exciting before bed so they are more a daytime treat. I particularly like the re-booked classic characters like Anthony Horowitz’s Sherlock Holmes and James Bond.

Crime fiction is going through a golden age at the moment with great books tumbling onto the shelves every week. Local writers like Colin Bateman are churning out smart and funny novels like his mystery man series. Thomas Paul Burgess explores post-conflict Belfast in White Church, Black Mountain. Brian McGilloway’s Little Girl Lost looks a bit scary for my tastes but it has gone down a storm with crime fans. These are just a small sample of great local talent and I urge you to suggest your own favourite books and writers in the comments.

All this leads me on to the fact that The NOIRELAND Festival returns to the Europa Hotel this weekend. The festival is the brainchild of David Torrans, owner of the popular No Alibis bookshop on Botanic Avenue, Belfast. I know from my own experiences putting on live events can be stressful, so well done to David and his team for taking the initiative to put on such a welcome addition to our cultural calendar.

This is the second year of the festival and the line up is bigger and better than ever. Ann Cleeves, Anthony Horowitz, Belinda Bauer, James Swallow, Denise Mina and Stuart MacBride. There are also some fantastic names from television crime drama, including the team behind RTE’s hit series Taken Down and Love/Hate.

I mentioned above I am a big fan of Anthony Horowitz so I will be at that one.

Please do check out the full festival programme and don’t forget to tell us your favourite books and writers in the comments.

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