David Peace on “Darkness, Darkness”



coal mine sunset endpapersAs I’ve said elsewhere – and as anyone who’s read the afterword to Darkness, Darkness will know – it took a number of conversations with fellow-writer David Peace at Quais du Polar, the Lyon crime writing festival, a few years back, to convince me that setting the last of the Resnick novels around the Miners’ Strike was a good idea. David, it seemed to me, had said pretty much everything you could say in fictional terms about the Strike, and I didn’t want to be wasting words in his considerable slipstream. But, other issues aside, David convinced me that the social and political ramifications of the Strike were still being felt and that writing something that would serve both to keep it in the public eye – not to say make others aware of it for perhaps the first time – would be a good thing.

Thus encouraged, I set to, knowing whatever I achieved, good or ill, his novel, GB84, would still be out there in print.


And now David’s had a chance to read my effort for himself and this is what he’s had to say …

“If we try to bury the past, unmarked and forgotten. If we try to tramp the dirt down and walk away, this is what we deserve, and this is what we get: DARKNESS, DARKNESS. A war between the past and the present, in a place wracked by guilt and vengeance, a country torn into pieces. A brilliant, important and moving book about the legacy of 1984, and where and who we are now.”

Which leaves me, as you might imagine, feeling both proud and grateful.

Darkness, Darkness pb 3







Late August iPod Shuffle

  1. Western Wall : Linda Ronstadt & Emmylou Harris
  2. Horseshoe Lounge : Slaid Cleaves
  3. Last To Leave : Arlo Guthrie
  4. Cause Cheap Is How I Feel : Cowboy Junkies
  5. Salty Dog : Mississippi John Hurt
  6. Tall Cotton : Eric Bibb
  7. Politics Aside : Everything But The Girl
  8. Daydream Believer : John Stewart
  9. California : Joni Mitchell
  10. They Say It’s Wonderful : Perry Como
  11. Monster Ballads : Josh Ritter
  12. Blackwater Side : Anne Briggs

How did Perry Como get in there!?

No Longer Silent

A poet, an ex-publisher and a crime-writer walk into a bar – and his name is John Harvey.

Thus begins Norbert Hirschhorn’s review of my new & selected poems, Out of Silence, the second of two reviews – the other by the poet Rosie Johnstone – which have just been posted on the international online cultural magazine London Grip.

Between them, Rosie and Bert contrive to say just about everything I might wish anyone to say about the book and poems in it, leaving me not a little proud and very grateful.

You can read the reviews here …

Rocking Hemingway’s Boat

Ever since I started writing with any degree of seriousness, or even a little before, I’ve been fascinated by interviews with writers about their work – hence the pile of Paris Review single issues and anthologies ever-growing on the shelf. In a few cases, not many, this has spilled over into an interest in their wider lives – biographies, collections of letters, diaries – F. Scott Fitzgerald, D. H. Lawrence, Arnold Bennett, Virginia Woolf. But, although Hemingway was one of those writers I began reading in my late teens and have continued to do so ever since, I had read very little – A Moveable Feast, his account of the years in Paris, aside – about his life. Not that I was totally lacking in interest, rather I’d presumed the life – the most interesting parts, at least – were there in the work, barely disguised. And, of course, the myth of the man – the macho big game hunter who ended his own life at the end of a shotgun – loomed so large it seemed to rule out the necessity for anything else.


But then I began to hear good things about a book called Hemingway’s Boat by a former journalist, Paul Hendrickson, who had spent twenty years or more with the Washington Post. Friends whose judgement I trusted – and who were no neophytes when it came to Hemingway – told me what a terrific book it was. And yet … and yet I still hesitated. Some 500-plus pages about a boat?

Except, as I discovered when I finally got around to reading it on a recent holiday in Cornwall, it isn’t really about the boat at all. The sub-title tells it more accurately – Everything He Loved in Life, and Lost, 1934-1961. And, in truth, he loved a great deal, often in ways that must have been difficult to withstand, and lost almost everything, including, desperately, agonisingly, his true talent as a writer, the thing that had kept him most afloat.

What Hendrickson does brilliantly – it is a beautifully written, brilliantly crafted book – is to use Hemingway’s undoubted passion for the Pilar – the boat’s name – as a structuring device on which to thread the story – the stories – of Hemingway’s relationships – powerful and all too often powerfully destructive – with those close to him, his wives and sons – especially the sons –  but also those whose contact with him was of a different order: Arnold Samuelson, the aspiring writer who hitched hundreds of miles to present himself at Hemingway’s door and found himself, surprisingly, taken under his wing, and Walter Houk, whose own story is one of the saddest yet most admirable of all.

I hope I’ve made it clear how much I loved this book, from grudgingly setting it aside at night, to the prospect of reopening it with my first cup of coffee the following morning.  It’s led me to begin reading other accounts of Hemingway’s life – currently How it Was, by Mary Welsh Hemingway, the last of his wives – and to order second-hand copies of Hendrickson’s earlier books, including one about the life and work of New Deal photographer, Marion Post Wolcott.

Finally, let me draw your attention to a fine review of Hemingway’s Boat, by Peter Messent, formerly of the Department of American and Canadian Studies at the University of Nottingham.


Last Dozen Movies I Saw


  1. His Kind of Woman : John Farrow (1951)
  2. Jimmy’s Hall : Ken Loach (2014)
  3. A Farewell to Arms : Frank Borzage (1932)
  4. A Hard Day’s Night : Richard Lester (1964)
  5. Footlight Parade : Lloyd Bacon (1933)
  6. Out of the Blue : Dennis Hopper (1980)
  7. Finding Vivian Maier : John Maloof/Charlie Siske (2014)
  8. Some Like It Hot : Billy Wilder (1959)
  9. Boyhood : Richard Linklater (2014)
  10. Winter’s Bone : Debra Granik (2010)
  11. Blood on the Moon : Robert Wise (1948)
  12. Dust in the Wind : Hou Haiso-hsien



Prize Winning Story Available Now!

When they had first met, amused by his occupation, Kate had sent him copies of Hammett and Chandler, two neat piles of paperbacks, bubble-wrapped, courier-delivered. A note:  He hadn’t been certain exactly what a fedora was.

Jack Kiley, private investigator. Security work of all kinds undertaken. Ex-Metropolitan Police.

Most of his assignments came from bigger security firms, PR agencies with clients in need of baby sitting, steering clear of trouble; solicitors after witness confirmation, a little dirt. If it didn’t make him rich, most months it paid the rent: a second-floor flat above a charity shop in north London, Tufnell Park. He still didn’t have a hat.

Till now.

That’s how it begins. ‘Fedora’, that is. The Jack Kiley story that won this year’s CWA Short Story Dagger and only available till now as one of the stories in Deadly Pleasures, the 2013 collection edited by Martin Edwards and published by Severn House.

But now it’s available as an ebook for the very cool price of 99p …