Reviews of the year

The murder plague in south Los Angeles. The global cocaine trade. The heroin and prescribed opiate epidemic in the US. And the one-man killing machine of Anders Breivik. All the subject matter of powerful and compelling crime books I read in 2015. And each of them non-fiction stories.


Many of the authors may not be household names, but they ought to be. Two of them (Jill Leovy and Sam Quinones) are journalists from the same publication, the Los Angeles Times. They are a testament to everything that is admirable of great newspaper men and women: dedication to research, to hard work, to the lives of ordinary people and to holding powerful institutions to account – and, not least, to crafting a good story.

Another is Roberto Saviano, a man under constant police protection from the Italian mafia, after his first book (and subsequent film) GomorrahAsne Seierstad has also made an important contribution to society, in her powerful portrayal of Anders Breivik and the murder of 77 people  – 55 of them teenagers – on the darkest of days for Norway and Europe.

During the year, I reviewed these books for the Irish Examiner and I’ve given the links below.

I’ve added links to features I wrote about Luke Waters and his book about his time in the New York Police Department and a debut crime novel by leading Irish barrister Michael O’Higgins.

If I was to pick one book as my favourite it would be Jill Leovy’s outstanding Ghettoside.


GhettosideGhettoside (Vintage) by Jill Leovy


Zero Zero ZeroZero Zero Zero (Allen Lane) by Roberto Saviano


DreamlandDreamland (Bloomsbury Press) by Sam Quinones


One of Us One of Us (Virago Press) by Asne Seierstad


NYPD GreenNYPD Green (Hachette Books Ireland) by Luke Waters


SnapshotsFeature/interview on debut crime novel Snapshots (New Island) by Michael O’Higgins


About Cormac O'Keeffe

2018 was a special year for me: my debut novel Black Water was published. It was a long and bumpy ride, as a quick glance over my posts will show! 'Black Water' is a crime novel set in Dublin's gangland, along the evocative Grand Canal. You'll also find some photography on this blog, particularly snaps that relate to my novel. There are also some book reviews I have written, both fiction and non-fiction, many of them published in the Irish Examiner, a daily national newspaper in Ireland. I work as security correspondent there and have specialist interests in crime, drugs, policing, the justice system, communities and human rights. Both my personal life and my professional life have fed into my novel, or, rather, have been poured into it. My novel was granted a literature bursary by the Irish Arts Council in September 2014 and my journalistic work has won multiple awards from the Law Society of Ireland over many years, most recently in 2015.
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