Fresh Blood

Name: Andrew Nugent

Title of Book: The Four Courts Murder

'This is a concise, very well written book – with a great twist in the tail.'

A Dublin High Court judge is found dead in his chair. A deeply unpopular man, there is no shortage of people who appear to be undisturbed by his untimely death.

Inspector Denis Lennon and Sergeant Molly Power begin by following up his connection to the antique trade and his obvious wealth. A young blonde man is seen in the courts on the day of the murder and evidence of his presence is found at the crime scene. Nothing is quite as it seems, however, and the final solution is very unexpected…

This is a concise, very well written book – with a great twist in the tail. The style reminds me of a fluent and amusing Irish conversationalist who tells a good yarn with great wit and variation of pace.

The author’s inside knowledge of the Irish legal system and the workings of the police gained from working as a trial lawyer is used to great effect, taking a measured and affectionate look at the failings of the system. The plot is cleverly put together. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and hope it will be the first of many.

Reviewed by: S.D.

CrimeSquad Rating

Fresh Blood Questionnaire

1) What type of crime writing would you say you write?
Police procedurals – at least that is what they tell me!
2) What type of crime novel do you prefer? Series or standalone?
Standalone, I think. I’m not very good on fidelity, except to God – et encore!
3) Have you always had ideas to write a crime novel?
Not at all. (a) I would have assumed that I was incapable of it (b) I was halfway through it before I realised that I was actually writing one.
4) What influenced you to write a crime novel in the first place?
I had spent seven years in Nigeria in a mission situation and was long past my sell-by date. Climate, food, snakes (I killed eight in my own room), armed robbers, malaria, guys who drive like there’s no tomorrow, massive corruption, plus a few family sorrows: it was all getting to me. I wrote to escape – and found, to my surprise, that writing was a new and delightful way to be present to myself.
5) What is your favourite crime read of all time?
Probably “Crime and Punishment” by Dostoevsky.
6) Would you describe yourself as a Crime fan and if so, which authors do you most admire?
Not really. As a youngster, I devoured Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie. Since, to my surprise, I became a crime-writer, I have diligently re-applied myself to reading some crime. I respect Ken Follett and P.D. James, Patricia Highsmith. I really admire Donna Tartt. I thought “The Secret History” was a marvellous book, but I’m afraid that I am more conscious of the crime writers that bore me. Is that an awful thing to say?
7) What is your favourite movie adaptation of a crime novel?
I don’t go to many movies. I enjoyed “The Day of the Jackal”, perhaps because as a student in France, I had many companions who were veterans of Algeria and who hated DeGaulle. Once I was within yards of him and could have easily bumped him off myself.
8) Without giving away the ending, which book included your favourite plot twist of all time?
“Trent’s Last Case”, E.C. Bentley.
9) You have obviously drawn on your experience as a trial lawyer in Dublin to write this book. Will you use your other experience –as a monk in Ireland and abroad for the background to another novel?
Yes, my years as a monk and an educator both in Ireland and abroad have already influenced “The Four Courts Murder” (notably the character of David Roundstone). This is continued in my second book, “Second Burial for a Black Prince” (just published in New York). I am working on a third novel: the murder of a housemaster in a boarding school. Will I go on to murder an Abbot in a monastery? Hum! I just might, too.
10) Related to that, do you see this as the first in a series about Inspector Lennon and Sergeant Power?
Well I am 68, so I don’t know about a series, but I like Lennon and Molly – and don’t forget Quilligan – and they are all in the second and third book. So, yes.
11) You live a life, which is regulated by the Benedictine Rule and the Monastic Office, when do you find the time to write, and do you write quickly?
Well I am quite busy as a monk and Prior of my monastery. On the other hand, I am not married or a parent – which saves some time, I suppose, and I don’t lead a hectic social life. I write quickly – but then I do up to a dozen or more rewrites to what I have written. So, in the end, I write quite slowly – and my books do tend to be short. I hate padding them out with accounts of detectives’ divorces or their parents going gaga. How dreary and depressing. I think that a book should always be interesting or entertaining, a page-turner in the best sense.
12) Where do you see crime fiction going next?
I think that the more amoral society gets, the more people feel the need to reflect on human behaviour. What is right and wrong, what is just and unjust, what is good and bad? In an age of moral pragmatism, crime writers may have to be the moral philosophers.