Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 29 May 2016

Seven Wonders of Northern Ireland: The writers behind a growing crime wave

By Colin Bateman, Author

Published 22/09/2011

The No Alibis bookstore in Belfast is a literary melting pot for Northern Ireland’s new generation of crime writers
The No Alibis bookstore in Belfast is a literary melting pot for Northern Ireland’s new generation of crime writers

Our series on what makes Northern Ireland so special looks at our new breed of literary heroes

My choice is the whole new wave of Northern Irish crime writers coming through. While they might not take over the world like the Scandinavian writers have of late, they are making a mark.

Stuart Neville, Adrian McKinty, Gerard Brennan and Brian McGilloway are all names to watch. A common thread, apart from the fact that they are from here, is the fact they are all connected to the Belfast bookshop No Alibis. No Alibis is to local crime fiction what the Good Vibrations shop was to punk rock in the 1970s.

During the Troubles North

ern Ireland was the only part of the UK, and the world, without its own crime writing tradition. All the novels written then were to do with the Troubles and were not crime fiction.

The four writers I have mentioned are all quite different: Stuart Neville produces big international novels, Adrian McKinty is a master of noir, Brian McGilloway is definitely a voice from the borders, towards Derry, and Gerard Brennan is a master of gritty violence. All of them are working on a larger stage than Northern Ireland, and people elsewhere get what they are saying.

For hundreds of years the focus has been on writing from the South, but now we are getting acclaim at this end. The Northern Irish characteristic is the way they use language and the fact there is usually a bit of humour.

Colin Bateman (49) is a celebrated crime writer, author of Divorcing Jack, that became a 1998 film, and Murphy’s Law, that turned into a TV series starring James Nesbitt. He lives in Bangor.

How you can shape the Seven Wonders

So what do you, the reader, think makes Northern Ireland special?

As our series runs every day over the next month we invite readers to vote on which landmark or aspect of life here as detailed by our celebrity contributors that they most agree with.

At the conclusion of the series this will enable us to draw up a list of the Seven Wonders of Northern Ireland — the things that really make Northern Ireland great.

Your choices can be sent to Belfast Telegraph, 124-144 Royal Avenue, Belfast BT1 1EB or alternatively send an email to

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