Skip to content

Posts from the ‘News’ Category

You can help us contribute to the restoration of Notre Dame de Paris!

April 17, 2019

BetimesBooksNow

📣 ANNOUNCEMENT

Betimes Books and Gérard Ramon, Parisian sculptor and author of the artwork in our book In Love with Paris, will be donating royalties and proceeds from all copies sold before June 17, 2019 to the reconstruction of Notre Dame de Paris.

The book is available here: viewBook.at/In_Love_with_Paris_Ramon and from other online retailers.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Please contact us directly for signed copies and limited signed edition prints.

ALL PROCEEDS WILL BE DONATED

 

“Life at its fullest” – Marvin Minkler about “Dirty Pictures”

January 17, 2019

BetimesBooksNow

“Rembrandt is quoted as saying, “Without atmosphere, painting is nothing.” Without atmosphere, neither is a great novel.

Patricia Ketola’s debut novel, Dirty Pictures, is poetic at times, sad, humorous, gripping, joyful, thrilling, and hopeful. A thoroughly captivating tale, rich in atmosphere, that is near impossible to put down.

Still recovering from the death of her mother, New York art dealer Elizabeth Martel is hired as an art advisor by a corporate billionaire—and fouler of the earth—Preston Graylander, after a meeting with him was arranged by her dear and lifelong friend Terry Volkov. The infamous Graylander has in his possession a rare Rembrandt painting that he wants Martel to have cleaned and is willing to pay, and fly her to Amsterdam, to have it done. Terry, who is partially paralyzed after a motorcycle accident, lures Martel into a plot to help him kill Graylander, and then himself, in a murder-suicide. Terry urges Martel to help, telling her that it is a way to get a little revenge on one of the people who are destroying the earth. Martel reluctantly agrees to help carry it out, by setting up Graylander to meet with Terry.

Soon after, Martel travels to Amsterdam where she is met by Hendrik Van der Saar, a former lover, and with his brother, Willem, owner of a fine arts company there. They agree to examine the painting, and Hendrik and Martel pick up where they left off years ago, beginning an intense love affair, with even more feeling and passion than before.

Their happiness is hindered by hidden family secrets that slowly come to the surface. Henrik’s son, Bobby, is half-Revata gypsy and a famous strung-out guitar virtuoso. Bobby and his sister Venessa are suspected of an incestuous relationship. Soon there are all sorts of fully developed characters populating the Rembrandt question. Is it a true painting by the master or a forgery? There is a Joan Collins look-alike, two mobsters from New Jersey tailing Martel, a blue butterfly, a policeman with his own secrets, two young free-climbers, and a loveable, but scary at times, huge Bouvier des Flanders dog named Rowley.

The author fills her canvas with floral arrangements, delectable foods, fine clothing, art, street markets, exotic locations, and music. From Ray Lamontagne to Jim Hall, Chet Baker, Paul Desmond, and Spanish flamenco classical guitarist Paco de Lucia, and the beautiful, haunting, Arunjuez Concierto. Life at its fullest and a profound love straight on, through revelations, tragedy, pain, and eventually acceptance of place.

There are moments when Patricia Ketola’s writing is like that of a wandering poet, as in this paragraph:

“We went to Venice for our honeymoon. It was in the middle of winter and most of the tourist spots were closed. We walked around in the fog, and the mist like lost travelers who had stumbled upon an ancient unknown, ruin of a city. It seemed that Venice, whose derelict charms grew ever more enticing with age, was still able to enchant. As we voyaged through her empty streets, we took on the ambiance of the city, we became as transparent as wraiths and as empty as stone. We were still vastly in love.”

Patricia Ketola is a daring new literary voice, and Dirty Pictures is the beginning of a truly significant career.”

Marvin Minkler, Modern First Editions

Listen to an excerpt from the novel:

 

“A Poet of Darkness”

January 8, 2019

BetimesBooksNow

We are happy and proud – overjoyed, really! – to share with you a few lines from a letter that the great American post-modernist writer Richard Kalich wrote to us and the Irish writer Colin O’Sullivan after having read his work for the first time (Colin’s novel, The Starved Lover Sings).

Such an endorsement, coming from an erudite, an intellectual and a passionate advocate of literary fiction and the Written Word, is invaluable.

“I have much to say and think the best way to get out what I feel and think about Colin’s novel is in staccato bursts.

My first and ongoing impression is that you, Colin, have written a book that would have inspired me to become a Writer if I needed such inspiration when young. Writers like Thomas Mann did their damage to me all those years back in much the same way. There’s an inner beauty to your narrative and characters, a most human beauty that is the undercurrent of all you write, create, and no matter how dark or perverse the narrative probes… […]

Second: No matter how varied and complexly differentiated your characters are, it seemed again to me they all emanated from that same most Human Source: Yourself. I’ve read too much and too many not to know the difference between a True Writer and a stereotypical “conceit”. […]

Colin O’Sullivan, I’m happy to say, has the heart of an Irish Poet and the intellect and wisdom of a Jewish Sage.

[…] I’ve always believed the job of the Writer is to take inside him the pain of the world and then through his craft, gift, talent and soul, to articulate it. Words, paint, clay or body movement…it’s all the same.  Well, your book does that as much and as well as any book I’ve read in recent years.  A Poet of Darkness… They don’t make ‘em like you anymore. And I mean it, and not in a corny way when I say… Thank You for being ‘YOU’. And Thank You, [Betimes Books], for publishing Colin and his book. 

Dick Kalich

P.S.  The last pages are not only well thought-out, but an epiphany of Poetics

Richard Kalich is the author of The Nihilesthete, Charlie P, and Penthouse-F, re-issued by Betimes Books as Central Park West Trilogy. His new novel, The Assisted Living Facility Library, will be published later this year.

 

Colin O’Sullivan is the author of Killarney Blues, The Starved Lover Sings, and The Dark Manual, all available from Betimes Books. He’s just completed a new novel, My Perfect Cousin.

“An intelligent novel that twists your gut.”

December 13, 2018

BetimesBooksNow

We are thrilled to share another wonderful new review for a ‘backlist’ title – a proof that great books don’t have a ‘use-by’ date!

REACH THE SHINING RIVER by Kevin Stevens in NB Magazine

Cover art by Keith Mallett

Stevens has written a grippingly sinister murder mystery that oozes menace and violence. Reach the Shining River captures the deeply corrupt and racist atmosphere of the 1930s, creating a feeling of dread and fear for the characters. This is a fight where the good guys are vastly out-numbered and out-gunned and where looking the wrong way at the wrong person can get you killed. Under the veneer of polite, civilised conversation, the golf club drinks parties and the sumptuous elegance is a rotten core, a canker. The question is, is it so embedded in the daily life of the city as to be immovable?

There’s a conspiracy at the heart of this thriller, but it’s not that simple; all motives are suspect and even those trying to do good have their limits. There are echoes here of the political shenanigans of All The King’s Men, the conspiracy at the heart of Chinatown, and the real life story of Louisiana governor Huey Long. It’s a bleak vision of the segregated society, greed and economic despair that rings very true. Reaching the Shining River is superbly plotted and suspenseful, This novel is haunting and chilling. When a black man is murdered, we see the value white society places on that man’s life.

Kansas City, 1935, even though the Volstead Act has been repealed and prohibition ended two years earlier, liquor distribution in the city is still controlled by the Italian mob. The police, from the commissioner down, are getting a cut of the gambling action, prostitution, drugs and the numbers racket. A few rich white men get richer, even in hard times. Boss Pendergast controls the legislature, he owns enough politicians to dictate to the State and kiss off the federal authorities. Against this backdrop, there’s only one thing worse than being a dirt-poor white person, and that’s being a dirt-poor black person. Not a drop of the New Deal aid, following the financial crash, has made it to the Negro part of town. The tone of the novel is beautifully reinforced by the painful and poetic lyrics of the blues that infuse this gritty Noir, underlining the prejudice and corruption of the times.

Reach the Shinning River

Cover of the 1st edition, 2014

Sunday morning and eleven-year-old Wardell comes across the body of a “coloured” man, just like him, just outside town. The battered corpse is lying face down in the mud between the Missouri River and the rail track. Wardell runs to the Negro district to tell them what he’s seen. Mr Watkins knows it’s no easy matter reporting such a death. An hour later, he returns with a white police officer who makes Wardell take him to the body. He takes the boy back to town but he threatens him before he drops him off. Wardell best forget what he saw if he knows what’s good for him and his family.

Emmett Whelan and his wife Fay haven’t been close since the miscarriage; the old resentments about Emmett not being part of the ‘right set’ resurface. Fay relies on Daddy, Lloyd Perkins, for her spending money. He and his brother Robert are big men in this city, whereas Emmett is a poorly paid Jackson County Assistant Prosecutor. Lloyd has some people he wants his son-in-law to meet, distinguished gentlemen of the golf club – they have a proposal for Emmett.

The dead man, Eddie Sloane, didn’t show for work at the Sunset Club on Saturday night so Arlene sang with Otis on piano. Arlene and Eddie have been lovers for two years now. When she eventually reports him missing, the police don’t want to know, won’t even take a report. Even when his body turns up, Detective Timmins, in charge of the case, does nothing. There are people in the black community who won’t let the death of another black man just slide. The Friendship Brotherhood and Eddie’s lover Arlene hire a PI, a white detective from Chicago, to investigate.

Kevin Stevens

Lloyd Perkins and his business chums talk about reform to Emmett, and urge him to find out who killed Eddie Sloane. The city needs a clean-up; it would be good for them and good for the prosecutor that could bring it about – Fay would respect that. Eddie was killed inside city limits, so as a county prosecutor Emmett would have to tread carefully, but someone needs to conduct a proper investigation. Roddy Hudson, state prosecutor, and the FBI are still angry with Kansas City for not cooperating on law enforcement and the New Deal; they will help.

Emmett brings in an old friend, a former detective, to investigate. The autopsy shows that Eddie was beaten badly, then shot three times, one in the head – police style. He stepped on the wrong toes, didn’t pay a debt or was just in the wrong place. Emmett, Arlene and her son Wardell are drawn deeper into a world of dirty cops, racism, corruption and personal danger. The people they are up against have no morals; they will stop at nothing.

Stevens’ powerful evocation of the shameful segregated world that is pre-war Missouri is a classy conspiracy thriller. An intelligent novel that twists your gut. In the spirit of the best American noir.

Paul Burke

Read the first pages of the novel here: https://betimesbooks.com/2014/07/29/excerpt-reach-the-shining-river/

And another excerpt, with a soundtrack: https://betimesbooks.com/2015/05/29/reach-the-shining-river-lover-man-excerpt-soundtrack/

Original review: https://nbmagazine.co.uk/reach-the-shining-river-by-kevin-stevens/

 

“If you are in the mood for something different, this may be it.”

December 10, 2018

BetimesBooksNow

Dirty Pictures by Patricia Ketola reviewed by Paul Burke in NB Magazine

This novel is extremely well-written, it reads like a page-turner and the story is fascinating, but it won’t be for everyone, it might even be described as niche. Here’s why I think it might not appeal to some: If you want a straightforward thriller or a straightforward romance you might not get this, it’s a bit of a genre-bender. Dirty Pictures is a love story and it’s a story of murder, it has elements of the family saga, twentieth century politics, art history and a definite erotic tinge. More than anything, it’s Martel’s story, she narrates a beguiling tale, this is her life, her world – it goes where it goes, unapologetically. As a love story it is unsentimental, as a thriller it’s intriguing. If the fact that it doesn’t fit nicely into a specific box puts you off you will miss out.

Ketola has her own ways of seeing things, she makes leaps and connections in ways that more conformist linear storytellers wouldn’t. Dirty Pictures isn’t surreal but it tips way over the edge of orthodox behaviour. That’s not a bad thing. Parts of the story you might expect to be followed up are abandoned; it’s unsettling, but also very true to life. Experience is a series of events that we weave a path in and out of, we don’t have perfect knowledge, we move on. Where the narrative drive appears to divert from expectation, and we are directed to a new theme, the novel becomes more exciting. One thing leads to another, and then the story moves on, plot lines are discarded, and it’s invigorating to read. You will have no idea where it will all end up, but you won’t be disappointed.

Elizabeth Martel, known as Martel, has her bottle of tequila and her mother’s Percocet to hand, oblivion here we come, but then Terry rings. Normally she would rush over to her disabled friend’s house (he was hurt in a bike accident), but she’s already pissed, she is mourning her mother, Carlene, so he will have to wait. So the next morning Terry sympathises over Clara’s death (he grew with Martel but he still can’t get her mother’s name right). Then he offers her a job – and she’d be doing him a favour. It’s worth $10,000 just to check it out, and she could use the money.

Patricia Ketola

Agri-business billionaire Preston Greylander has a Rembrandt, Martel is an expert on Dutch and Flemish art. The painting needs cleaning and he needs advice on how. Greylander is a detestable man, a typical WASP, he is also a destroyer of countries and continents in the pursuit of profit. Martel advises Greylander to have to painting restored by Van der Saar in Amsterdam. She doesn’t mention that she first learned art on Hendrik van der Saar’s knee, literally and figuratively. After her meeting with Greylander, Martel insists on knowing why Terry also had her invite him to a cocktail party. Terry has had enough of life and in a grand gesture he wants to take Greylander with him: murder-suicide.

“I’m through with this life.’ he said. ‘I have a need to get it over with, and while I’m doing it I might as well take that rotten bastard with me.”

Martel agrees to take the painting to the restorer in Holland, it will be the first time she has seen her former lover in twenty years. For the privilege, she gets $25,000 and expenses. While the firm of Van der Saar clean the painting, Martel and Hendrik rekindle their love affair. When she is back in the US, Martel brings Greylander to the cocktail party and to his death. The crime is instantly covered up, Martel’s contract is cancelled, but paid in full. The painting is still in Amsterdam. Pookie Greylander, now 102, although she lies about her age, is part of the Swiss branch of the family, she wants the Rembrandt. The family lawyer wants the restorer to “find” a signature on the canvas ($1M).

Hendrik has a confession to make (more than one, actually quite a few!). Martel also has confessions to make, if the two are to become permanent lovers and trustful friends again. Martel thinks she is being followed: maybe the family of Preston Greylander have connected her to the crime and want revenge? Hendrik says Pookie Greylander has the Rembrandt painting now, but does she? Is it an original or a fake? Did Hendrik add a signature to increase the value and “authenticate” the work per the lawyers “request”? The story will diverge in ways you won’t see coming – just go with the flow.

So why would Martel so easily agree to the murder of a man she doesn’t know? Well, there’s history here. Her family lost their farm in Dakota and became miners in Colorado because of the Greylanders. Her family has a radical tradition from the Wobblies to the present day. Terry has his own fascinating story. So does Hendrik, but the politics of the past generations of his family and Martel’s don’t align.

There is a leap of faith or two here, but Dirty Pictures is fun. If you are in the mood for something different this may be it. The world isn’t always neat and tidy, neither is Ketola’s vision.

Paul Burke

Original review here: https://nbmagazine.co.uk/dirty-pictures-by-patricia-ketola/

REMINDER: The Dark Manual promotion on Amazon UK

October 22, 2018

BetimesBooksNow

We don’t want you to miss it!
Until the end of October, Colin O’Sullivan‘s chilling and thought-provoking novel THE DARK MANUAL, due to become a TV series, is promoted on Amazon UK, and you can read the e-book for £0.99 only!

October treat: Amazon UK promotion for Colin O’Sullivan’s novel “The Dark Manual”

October 1, 2018

BetimesBooksNow

During the whole month of October, readers in the UK & Ireland can buy The Dark Manual here for £0.99!

This is, of course, a Kindle edition. Print edition is also available on Amazon, the Book Depository (free delivery worldwide), etc.

Or maybe you prefer to watch it on TV? It’s coming, but it will take a bit of time, so why not discovering the novel now?

More about The Dark Manual here

Meet the author: Colin O’Sullivan

 

“Novels are all about commitment” – Colin O’Sullivan’s profile in Books Ireland Magazine

September 12, 2018

BetimesBooksNow

Colin O’Sullivan, author of Killarney Blues (Winner of the Prix Mystère de la Critique 2018 in France), The Starved Lover Sings and The Dark Manual, features prominently in the latest issue of Books Ireland Magazine.

Nostalgic or futuristic, even visionary, his novels focus on characters “grappling with loss, the past and their lack of purpose”, in a turbulent political environment. But O’Sullivan firmly believes that “we have enough inside us to withstand, to cope, and eventually to surpass. We are still here, after all, or I should say, despite all.”

Meet a writer who “has an understanding of the power of words, their placing, their specific meaning” and “reflects the current malaise and modern preoccupations”*, “sends language out on a gleeful spree, exuberant, defiant”**, and who is “one of the finest storytellers out there, a lyrical master of the written word”***.

Books Ir & Colins books

* From a Book Noir review by Paul Burke

** Endorsement by writer Niall Griffiths

*** From a review by Marvin Minkler, Modern First Editions

 

 

 

More praise for “The Dark Manual”

September 11, 2018

BetimesBooksNow

Review published on Book Nudge / Book Noir, August 31, 2018.

The Dark Manual defies easy categorisation; it’s a literary novel, a very desperate tale of love and loss, a noir thriller, of real and imaginary threats and a sci-fi speculation (which could be read as prescient future gazing). O’Sullivan has carved himself a distinct niche in the blackly comic noir world. The Dark Manual proves that he is as comfortable writing about Japan, the place where he has lived for many years, as he was writing about his native Ireland in his earlier novel Killarney Blues. The Dark Manual is a mature rounded work, assured and confident, at times lyrical and beautiful but also punchy and sharp. Susie Sakamoto’s bleak world is painful and depressing but compelling and honest. Yet this isn’t a hard read, it’s engaging, inventive and thought-provoking.

So The Dark Manual takes us into the world of Susie Sakamoto, an Irish woman trapped in a nightmare since the disappearance of her husband and son, Masa and Zen, in a terrible plane crash at sea. Susie is alone in her grief, except for the homebot, Sonny.

“Her deep despair. Her piteous and addle-egged mind….Gravity pinning her right down. Gravity seems so much heavier these days; her bones, now leaden and so hard to move. She is rooted. Rooted to this spot. So firmly, so horribly stuck.”

The description of Susie’s home life is so stark and brutal, it could be an interior scene from Blade Runner 2049. As Susie sprawls on the couch unable to relieve the torpor she is irritated by the hoover, is it just a symptom of her malaise or something more insidious? Her life is managed by the homebots, particularly Sonny, model SH.XL8. Susie can cook, she can clean, she used to be able to manage her life, but now the machines do all the work. Even though she doesn’t want to acknowledge their presence they become one of her only means of discourse. Sonny is male, he responds to commands, but is there a touch of sarcasm in his answers, an independence, is he manipulating her life? Is Sonny arguing with her? For the reader the exchanges with the homebot are witty, for Susie they are both necessary, invasive and disturbing. Did she ask the health information monitor to tell her, her weight, to suggest a revision in her diet?

Susie is adrift after the death of her family, mired in grief and not coping. She was a confident woman working for an online news outlet compiling a column: “a foreigner’s interpretation of Japan”, which was translated from English to Japanese by machine and checked, but rarely corrected, by a sub-editor. She’s not ready to return to work and fills the void with bars and booze with her friend, Mixxy. Are her problems with the robots in her head, are these computers a benign or malignant force. What is The Dark Manual, and what did her husband have to do with it?

There are so many facets to this novel, subtleties to the story, but I have want to concentrate on three major themes. Grief – this is a study of a woman on the edge of a nervous breakdown, suffering the profound grief of losing her loved ones (grief the devouring monster). It’s grief in an alien environment, or perhaps more accurately, the realisation that any environment becomes alien when grief strikes. Susie’s grief is all she is left with in the world where she has so little real contact to other humans, where everything is done for her by machines but nothing fills the void. Artificial intelligence – the fear of a future in which we may not be in charge, think of a more intellectual Humans (the Channel 4 series). It’s deja vu, the re-emergence of Frankenstein’s monster, except this time there is a genuine concern that the machines will outstrip us. Will we be consumed, altered, rendered helpless by machines? Truth and memory – was Masa the man she thought he was? We all want to believe we know the people who are close to us but do we really know others? What if the human impetus for the robot programmes is not benign? O’Sullivan has an understanding of the power of words, their placing, their specific meaning, that reminded me a little of Bernard MacLaverty’s use of language to conjure images in Cal. This bleak, but also witty novel is a philosophical musing on what we are and how we respond to life; grief, the future, a world inhabited by AI. The dystopian future has been the staple of sci-fi (1984, Brave New World). This is a modern novel that reflects the current malaise and modern preoccupations. As a thriller this is a page turner, a really intriguing read.

The publisher, Betimes Books, is about to announce a major film deal for the The Dark Manual, which will be one to keep an eye out for. [SOON!!!]

If you like The Dark Manual I would thoroughly recommend O’Sullivan’s earlier novel Killarney Blues, an unconventional crime novel of small town living in Killarney – everyone seems to be in a funk. Bernard Dunphy loves American Blues but he’s troubled by his father’s suicide. The sins of the past always have ramifications in the present. A sudden violent act has an impact on Bernard and the young people of the town. Killarney Blues is engrossing, witty, depressing and uplifting. Winner of the Prix Mystère de la critique 2018.

Paul Burke

The Dark Manual by Colin O’Sullivan
Betimes Books 9780993433177, May 2018

Original review here: https://nudge-book.com/blog/2018/08/the-dark-manual-by-colin-osullivan/

A tribute to Aretha Franklin

August 17, 2018

BetimesBooksNow

As a small tribute to Aretha Franklin, this excerpt from Reach the Shining River, a novel by Kevin Stevens, writer and jazz connoisseur:

“A full house was tough on the nerves but easier to gather and please. If you knew what you were doing, and Arlene did. Had known from the beginning when, eleven years old, she sang “Go Tell It on the Mountain” in the Mount Zion church choir. Hitting the notes, yes. But plenty of singers could carry a tune. You had to get the audience involved. Start a conversation with them. You had to have soul.

Otis was at the piano, warming the crowd with a little boogie-woogie. Piney gave him the high sign and he segued into the first song.

The audience stirred, and faces turned stage left. Draymen, day laborers, housecleaners, cooks, domestics: these folks worked with their hands but knew their chord progressions. “Lady Be Good” was Arlene’s calling card – not the white-bread Fred Astaire arrangement but Bill Basie’s Kansas City version, up-tempo, swinging, with Lester Young soloing on tenor like he was making love to the long-legged gal serving drinks.

Arlene stepped into the light, singing just a shade behind the beat, her hands moving down along the sequins of her dress, from breasts to hips to thighs. It wasn’t the words that carried the soul but the ghost of Young’s saxophone, its sexy lines floating in her mind. Voices called out from the semi-darkness, filled with lust and admiration and surprise. Glasses clinked. The air was blue with cigarette smoke. Ecstasy and longing and gospel shouts. But this wasn’t church.

Listen to my tale of woe
It’s terribly sad but true
All dressed up, no place to go
Each evening I’m awfully blue.

The audience went with her from the start. Otis was just good enough. She followed with “All of Me”, “If You Were Mine” and “It’s Too Hot for Words”. Then another of her torch songs, “Body and Soul”.

My heart is sad and lonely
For you I sigh, for you dear only
Why haven’t you seen it
I’m all for you, body and soul.

Out of the lyrics he appeared. Unexpected. Looming in her mind, cool and easy, pork-pie hat pulled low over his brow and cigarette glowing between his lips. From between the lines of a song, like Young’s tenor sax.

Her heart lurched. She struggled to continue.”

“Exciting Poetic Thriller” – exactly!

August 7, 2018

BetimesBooksNow

We just have to share this reader’s review! It’s wonderful when somebody REALLY gets the book! Thanks to @fatorange23, whoever he/she is, for sharing this with other readers:

5.0 out of 5 stars Exciting Poetic Thriller

4 August 2018Published on Amazon.com

Format: Paperback

In order to be a great writer one’s style must be distinct. However, by daring to have a distinct voice a writer runs the risk of annoying or irritating the reader. O’Sullivan implements an obvious technique that’s often tried but very rarely succeeds. He builds the foundation of the plot with brief passages that are equal parts poetry and prose.

Honestly, if someone told me that I would NOT be inclined to read the book because I’ve seen it fail so many times. But the reason why it almost always fails is the poetry (or maybe more correctly put the poetic prose) doesn’t advance the plot. Usually, it will only serve to re-establish something. O’Sullivan advances the plot, economically even, while showcasing his skill as a poet – all the while, keeping the reader fully engaged and turning the pages.

I read comparisons to Murakami, Aldiss, and even Black Mirror writers. I love all that stuff but I personally think O’Sullivan offers us something we really needed much more deeply: a modern-day Edgar Allan Poe. Horror that dares to be great.

Does it get any better than that?
viewbook.at/TheDarkManual

A glorious review of Colin O’Sullivan’s new novel “The Dark Manual”

June 15, 2018

BetimesBooksNow

Isaac Asimov had Three Laws of Robotics:

1. A robot may not injure a human being, or through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

2. A robot must obey orders given it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

Asimov’s laws are sourly tested in Colin O’Sullivan’s new novel, The Dark Manual. The author, Winner of the Prix Mystère de la critique 2018, just gets better with each book, and with this, his third, he is becoming one of the finest storytellers out there. His prose keeps one glued to the page, with delightful concentration.

Colin O’Sullivan does not write a bad line. His characters become a part of the reader as they turn the pages, and they dwell in the mind between reads. I found myself setting the book down, two or three times, but not able to leave it until I picked it up again, and read some more. Colin O’Sullivan’s writing style reminds me so of jazz, with its one-word, then two-word, then three-word sentences. Bop, bop, bop-bop, until you realize you have read a paragraph, then onto a new riff. Lyrical, powerful, humorous, poetic, emotional. He is a lyrical master of the written word. There are sections of the book that are heartbreaking, in their emotional and physical sense of loss, and moments of humor, surprise, suspense, pure sudden horror, and stark naked joy.

Susie Sakamoto, came from Ireland, to live in Japan with her husband, Masa, who designed and built “homebots,” domestic robots. Their primary role: clean the home, cook, make drinks, tend to the owner, and stand still in the corner when turned off for the night.

With their little boy, Zen, Masa and Susie have a happy life, until the day when Susie bids goodbye to her son and husband at the airport, where they are setting off on a trip to South Korea. A trip that becomes a tragedy when an errant missile launched from North Korea causes the plane they are on to break apart, its pieces and bodies of those on board falling into the sea. Her dear husband and darling son, suddenly gone. Their bodies never recovered.

Susie now spends her days in a deep depression, going over the what-ifs, coming to hate the homebot that lives with her, and staying drunk most of the time. Appearing at work, where she is a reporter, occasionally, but contemplating suicide, and spending nights in a bar getting wasted and mourning the tremendous loss she has suffered. A drunken Irishwoman in Japan, with little reason to get up in the morning, except to order the home robot to bring her another drink, while outside, in the trees, the owls are gathering, as if something was amiss.

At the bar she hangs out at each night, Susie becomes somewhat friendly with the ultra free spirit and flamboyant Mixxy Makanea, a Japanese woman who speaks English, and pretty much does what she wants, when she wants, and with whomever she wants. When Mixxy struts into a bar, all heads turn. Green streaked hair, fishnet stockings, glossy lips, and just a touch of white powder under her nostrils, she is ready to steal the evening. Mixxy is one of the great characters from the author. With her flash flamboyance and pizzazz, she colors the novel with her profane antics, and so-what attitude. Mixxy also feels the presence of the owls. Knows they are in the trees. Watching.

Susie continues to struggle with whether to live or die and blacken it all out once and for all. Her anguish palpable. Her loss profound. Her hatred for the annoying domestic robot growing each day. Then she begins to hear about the Dark Manual, a legendary means to shut off all the machines, that might or might not exist. Susie starts thinking that if she could find it, she could shut the damn thing off. Shut them all off. If she gets Mixxy to help her, could they find it? Did her husband write it? Is it close by, within her reach?

Meanwhile the homebot waits. All the homebots wait. Lights flashing on and off. Eerie sounds emitting from where there mouth would be. Do they come into the bedroom at night to watch the sleeper? Are they capable of harm? If Susie and Mixxy find the Dark Manual, will the machines know, and try to stop them from shutting them down? Can they think? Can they communicate with other homebots? Are they evil?

Worst of all, can they kill?

Meanwhile, outside, more owls gather in the trees, and now also the crows. They too gather and caw in the trees and rooftops. More and more of them. Watching. Waiting.

–Marvin Minkler of Modern First Editions

read an excerpt here

Interview with Colin O’Sullivan in Your Secret Library

Project

A few days before the release of Colin’s third novel, THE DARK MANUAL, a Trinity College Dublin graduate Polly Young interviews her fellow Trinity College alumnus for Your Secret Library Magazine:

Colin O’Sullivan is a poet and a novelist, author of Killarney Blues (2013), The Starved Lover Sings (2017), and The Dark Manual (May 2018), published by Betimes Books. His first novel, Killarney Blues, has won the prestigious “Prix Mystère de la critique” in France.

“Colin O’Sullivan writes gloriously”

April 16, 2018

BetimesBooksNow

In Tom Russell’s song about Lightnin’ Hopkins, ‘Scars on His Ankles,” he writes of Lightnin’s scars on his ankles where the chain from the chain gang cut his skin. In Colin O’Sullivan’s jewel of a first novel, Killarney Blues, winner of the “Prix Mystere de la critique,” in France, the main characters also have scars, but they are the emotional ones, ones that were thought to be buried, ones that lie scratching deep beneath the surface of their skin, never to be forgotten.

Thirty year old Bernard Dunphy is a jarvey by trade, driving a horse-carriage, that carries the many tourists, who flock to the lovely Irish town of Killarney each year. Pulled by his old worn-out, dying, but gallant horse, Ninny, Bernard is considered by most a town weirdo. Gap-toothed, overweight, and grubby in his old tobacco and sweat stained black coat, that he wears on even the warmest of days. Walking alone through the town, large headphones in place, listening and mumbling along with the likes of blues-man Son House, as his raw, passionate, stomping sound tears up out of his body and soul, filling Bernard’s ears. “That rhythm is the beat of Bernard’s heart.”

He knows all the old blues-men, from Muddy Waters to Howling Wolf, Sleepy Ma Rainey, John Estes, and Robert Johnson. They are his heroes, and Bernard cannot get enough of them. In his small room alone at home with his guitar and voice, he records blues songs, then gives them to his childhood crush, and love of his life, the beautiful Marian, though she is less than pleased about it. In fact, her two childhood friends, Cathy and Mags, delight in teasing her relentlessly about poor old goofy Bernard’s ongoing devotion to her.

Bernard’s other childhood friend is the handsome, popular footballer, heavy drinker and ladies man, Jack Moriarty. Jack is supposed to be Mags steady, but he is spending a lot of bed time with her best friend Cathy behind Marian’s back. Bernard and Jack share a dark secret that remains a scar on their souls from a terrible night back when they were little boys, young and innocent. A terrible night that also scared Bernard’s father John Dunfey, who also loved the blues and taught Bernard to play, and his mother, Brigid, who smothers Bernard with love and devotion, since her husband John Dunfey’s questionable death by drowning in the lake. They only have each other, a home that once held lovely memories, but also a never-mentioned shameful secret. A secret that during this green, glorious summer will finally scratch through their skins, and alter all their lives.

The green and blue lake beauty of Killarney, Ireland, runs through this wonderfully written novel, and the blues are the glue that holds it all together. Colin O’Sullivan writes gloriously. Hope, frailty, sadness, joy, resilience and surprise. The novel jumps back and forth in time and character viewpoints, but never once does it alter in any way the grand flow of this lyrical and compelling story as it moves forward. The reader carried along steadily, and then hurriedly, as the pages fly by a bit faster, eyes reading in a hurry to find out what happens next, until finally the last paragraph, and a large smile spreads across the face.

Killarney Blues is what the pleasure of reading a totally enjoyable novel is all about.

–Marvin Minkler, Modern First Editions

Original review: https://www.facebook.com/MarvinMinklerModernFirstEditions/posts/1498995423542236

More praise for Sam Hawken’s LA FRONTERA five years after its release

April 3, 2018

BetimesBooksNow

If, like us, you value long-sellers over best-sellers and content over marketing, this book might be for you:

Book Noir review, published on March 30, 2018

Every time I read one of Hawken’s novels I enjoy it immensely; he is a consummate storyteller with a real knack for getting to the heart of the matter. La Frontera is a powerful novel because is deals with the lives of real people in tough situations. That has been a feature of Hawken’s writing since his first novel, The Dead Women of Juarez, a blistering thriller based on the murders of 1500 women in Ciudad Juarez during the drugs wars on the border. This was an important novel but Hawken has gone on to write much better thrillers (from a stylistic point of view). I don’t think anybody writes about La Frontera with the same depth of knowledge of the borderlands (north and south). Hawken is a Texan, and he brings the many stories of real people to life with compassion and honesty. In this case it is Ana, Luis and Marisol. That depth of characterisation sets his novels apart from a lot of thrillers and it’s totally engrossing. The people we meet on these pages are nuanced and complicated. Hawken seems to be able to make ordinary detail seem fascinating and once he introduces a character you will want to know their story. Most importantly Hawken knows how to tell a story with verve and depth; La Frontera is fast paced, absorbing and exciting – it is one of his best and that is saying something.

Full review here: https://nudge-book.com/blog/2018/03/la-frontera-by-sam-hawken/

Colin O’Sullivan wins the “Prix Mystère de la critique” in France for “Killarney Blues”

March 26, 2018

BetimesBooksNow

Congratulations to Colin O’Sullivan, Winner of a prestigious crime fiction award in France: the Prix Mystère de la critique!

Previous winners include:

Don Winslow, Daniel Woodrell, Dennis Lehane, Boris Akunin, Donald E. Westlake, Henning Mankell, James Ellroy, Michael Connelly, Thomas Harris, and many other fabulous writers from around the world.

Richard Kalich acknowledged as an notable postmodernist author

March 14, 2018

BetimesBooksNow

Do you know the difference between Modernism and Postmodernism in literature?

This Pediaa.com article gives a clear definition of each movement and, importantly, mentions Richard Kalich, author of The Nihilesthete, Charlie P., and Penthouse F, published as Central Park West Trilogy by Betimes Books, as one of the notable postmodernist writers, along with “household” names like Nabokov, Eco, Auster, and Vonneghut:

What is Postmodernism

Postmodernism was a reaction against modernism, brought about by the disillusionment followed by the Second world war. Postmodernism is characterized by the deliberate use of earlier styles and conventions, a mixing of different artistic styles and media, and a general distrust of theories. It can be seen as a radical break from modernism when we look at some unique features of postmodernism. Some of these features include,

Irony and parody: Postmodernism works are often characterized by irony and satire. They demonstrate playful, mischievous vibe and a love of satirical humor.Pastiche: Copying ideas and styles from various authors and combining them to make a new style.

Metafiction: Making the readers aware that of the fictional nature of the text they are reading.

Intertextuality: Acknowledging other texts and referring to them in a text.

Faction: Mixing of actual events and fictional events without mentioning what is real and what is fictional.

Paranoia: The distrust in the system and even the distrust of the self.

Some notable writers in postmodernism include  Vladimir Nabokov,  Umberto Eco, John Hawkes,  RICHARD KALICH, Giannina Braschi, Kurt Vonnegut, William Gaddis,  John Barth, Jean Rhys, Donald Barthelme, E.L. Doctorow,  Don DeLillo, Ana Lydia Vega, Jachym Topol and Paul Auster.

Full article here: http://pediaa.com/difference-between-modernism-and-postmodernism-in-literature/

Christmas Prize Draw: the winning cover is REACH THE SHINING RIVER

December 4, 2017

BetimesBooksNow

Thanks to all those who voted in “My Favourite Cover” prize draw!

The winning cover is… REACH THE SHINING RIVER, a novel by Kevin Stevens

Cover art: Keith Mallett

Cover design: JT Lindroos

The two winners have been contacted by email.

They are welcome to share their prize in social media tagging Betimes Books.

Christmas Prize Draw!

November 27, 2017

BetimesBooksNow

Vote for your favourite Betimes Books cover for a chance to win a print copy of one of our books!

  1. The Prize Draw is open to people aged 18 and over who provide their email address by voting for their favourite cover and would be happy to provide their postal address if they win.
  2. Please select your favourite cover and send us your vote by email, to betimesbooks@gmail.com with “My favourite cover” as Subject.
  3. No purchase is necessary!
  4. Only one entry per person. Entries on behalf of another person will not be accepted and joint submissions are not allowed.
  5. Two winners will be chosen from the draw of votes: the person who was the first to vote for the most popular cover + one random draw.
  6. The winners will be notified by email on Monday, December 4, 2017.
  7. The prize will be sent to the winner by post.
  8. The prize is non-exchangeable and is not redeemable for cash.
  9. The first name and country of the winner will be announced on this blog and Betimes Books Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts. The winners are most welcome to share their prize in social media tagging Betimes Books.
  10. The closing date of the Prize Draw is 23:59, Dublin time, on the 3rd of December 2017.Votes received outside this time period will not be considered.

All our covers are designed by JT Lindroos.

If you wish to have a closer look at each cover, go to our Home page.

You can also see the back covers of the print editions on Amazon. We’ve provided the links below.

Fav. cover contest Dec2017-page-001Fav. cover contest Dec2017-page-002

List of Titles

  1. The Painter’s Women
  2. Permanent Fatal Error 
  3. The Red-Handed League
  4. The Death of Tarpons
  5. La Frontera
  6. The Last Island
  7. Central Park West Trilogy
  8. Dirty Pictures
  9. Silk for the Feed Dogs
  10. Francesca
  11. The Insider’s Guide to Betrayal
  12. Borderland Noir
  13. The Angel of the Streetlamps
  14. Killarney Blues
  15. The Starved Lover Sings
  16. Reach the Shining River
  17. In Love with Paris
  18. One True Sentence
  19. Forever’s Just Pretend
  20. Toros & Torsos
  21. The Great Pretender
  22. Roll the Credits
  23. The Running Kind
  24. Head Games
  25. Print the Legend
  26. Death in the Face
  27. Three Chords & the Truth

The Success of the French Edition of “Killarney Blues”

November 2, 2017

BetimesBooksNow

“Carried by a genuine writing talent, Killarney Blues is a Noir novel full of melancholy and unfulfilled dreams with a surprising glimmer of hope at the end. Without the slightest naivety. A revelation.”  —Le Soir

“A cathartic novel that ultimately creates positive emotions, like the blues can do. Poignant.” —booknode.com ­­

“A luminous novel that chases away the darkness… All its characters are at a crossroads and they will either meet the Devil himself or find a way towards a new life.” —Appuyez sur la touche lecture

“Moving, tragic, masterly crafted.” —Lea Touch

“In a style that is sometimes luminous, sometimes direct, sometimes poetic, Colin O’Sullivan traces his narrative path, creates incredibly vivid and appealing characters and brings the reader, to the 12-bar beat of the blues, towards a heart-breaking denouement.” —Le blog du Polar de Velda

“O’Sullivan’s beautiful writing transcends a rather banal story and gives it tragic depth.”  —Encore du Noir

“Colin O’Sullivan’s Killarney Blues brings us to a paradoxical Ireland, half-way between mythological timelessness and modernity. …A novel full of deep melancholy and beautiful blues.”   —actualitte.com

“A great, great book.” —unwalkers.com

“A hard, poignant novel of great humanity… remarkably well written…” —Rolling Stone