Wearing o’ the green . . . evidence gloves #irishcrimefiction #mysteries

St. Patrick’s Day is a good occasion to examine a trend in mystery writing that should make us all green with envy. In Down These Green Streets, an anthology of essays on Irish crime writing edited by Declan Burke (its title a nifty pun on the Raymond Chandler quote about a private eye going “down these mean streets”), a contributor wonders whether crime fiction is more likely to flourish in a Protestant country rather than a Catholic one where the “possibility of forgiveness and redemption” is deeply embedded. “Does that explain”–the essay goes on–“why England, Scotland and Scandinavia have such strong traditions of crime writing while Spain and Ireland do not?”

Fortunately, as the anthology itself proves, and as recent publishing confirms, Irish crime fiction is undergoing an explosion in quantity and quality. Novelist Burke, who posts frequently on his excellent blog on Irish crime writing, Crime Always Pays, suggests some reasons for this greening of the genre on the Emerald Isle in the book’s editors note, to wit: “Veronica Guerin‘s murder. The end of the thirty-year ‘Troubles’ in Northern Ireland. The economic boom of the Celtic Tiger, with its attendant greed and corruption. The rise and rise of criminal gangs, and soaring gangland murders. The declining reputations of the Church and the political, legal and financial institutions.”

A good time indeed to remember that old Irish prayer: “May the road rise up to meet you . . . but not before you’ve made your getaway.”

Sláinte!

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