Describe your latest book.
My latest book, The Whisperers, is the ninth in a series of books featuring the private detective Charlie Parker; it concerns a group of disaffected Iraq war veterans who commence a smuggling operation and find that there's something sinister about their cargo. Like a lot of my work, it has a supernatural element to it, which gets up the nose of the more conservative elements in the mystery genre.
What fictional character would you like to date, and why?
Cathy from Wuthering Heights, if only because I've always imagined her looking like Kate Bush, and I've had a crush on Kate Bush since I was a kid. If you're reading this, Kate, the flame is still burning...
What's the strangest or most interesting job you've ever had?
I was, for a time, in charge of all of the parcels being sent from Harrod's department store to the great and the good of England, at a time when some of my fellow countrymen were very interested in blowing up the great and the good of England with parcel bombs. It seemed an odd job to give to an Irish bloke, but thankfully I've never been much of a one for blowing people up, so they were safe with me.
Introduce one other author you think people should read, and suggest a good book with which to start.
Ross MacDonald, who was the finest of the four great Californian mystery novelists (Hammett, Chandler, and James M. Cain being the other three). I'd start with The Chill, which remains one of the most intricately plotted mystery novels ever written, with a hell of a kick at the end.
Offer a favorite sentence or passage from another writer.
"'In that case, tinkerty-tonk,' I said. And I meant it to sting."
It's P. G. Wodehouse's Bertie Wooster offering an insult, and it never fails to make me smile.
Have you ever made a literary pilgrimage?
In a sense. I traveled to Missoula, Montana, to interview the great James Lee Burke at his house. I probably wouldn't have become a mystery writer had I not read Burke, Ross MacDonald, and Ed McBain. I managed to get lost while out on a walk with Burke, until his neighbors dogs found me. All very embarrassing, and a bit worrying given that we were walking in the Great Rattlesnake Wilderness at the time.
What is your favorite indulgence, either wicked or benign?
Cinnamon bun and coffee over the newspapers at Simon's Place, Georges Street, Dublin. I love the smell of cinnamon...
On a clear and cold day, do you typically get outside into the sunshine or stay inside where it's warm?
I'm a winter person, so the colder the better. It's why I go to Maine to write between November and February, and not during the summer. Anyway, Portland is more like itself in winter than in summer, when the tourists transform it.
Dogs, cats, budgies, or turtles?
Dogs. You can't trust cats; budgies can't fetch; and turtles only inspire sympathy.
Recommend five or more books on a single subject of personal interest or expertise.
Five Odd Books about Death and Dying
Notes of an Anatomist by F.González-Crussi
The Undertaking by Thomas Lynch
The Hour of Our Death by Philip Ariès
When We Die by Cedric Mims
Stiff by Mary Roach