NOIRELAND International Crime Fiction Festival, Belfast 2019

IMG_1547-28th to 10th March 2019, Europa Hotel, Belfast

The NOIRELAND International Crime Fiction Festival doesn’t have to worry about distinguishing itself from other literary festivals in Ireland because it takes place in Belfast, a city known for its dark past. In addition, the festival took place in the Europa Hotel, the perfect location for a crime fiction festival from a historical perspective. Although a bustling cosmopolitan city today, the tension between the Belfast of the past and the present came up in several panels as writers sought to leave the Troubles behind and focus on more straightforward crime fiction. At the moment, crime writing is flourishing in Northern Ireland and writers agreed that it was born out of what they experienced growing up in the North but that it can only really thrive and be fully expressed in peaceful times. Co-organised by David Torrans, owner of No Alibis in Belfast, the North’s only crime fiction bookshop, and Angela McMahon, the festival perfectly celebrated this creativity both in Northern Ireland and internationally and the ongoing fascination we have with the darker side of human nature. Continue reading

Back, or the Great Return of Mitchell and Webb

backep187375-f1I’m moving away from my usual reviews to write about Back, David Mitchell and Robert Webb’s newest show currently airing on Channel 4 (although there’s only one episode left). The six-part series tells the story of Stephen, played by Mitchell, who returns to his childhood home following the death of his father. He returns to help his mother and sister run the family pub. At his father’s graveside, Andrew, played by Webb, shows up and claims to have been one of the many children that Stephen’s parents fostered over the years, although Stephen has no recollection of him. Andrew seems to have done it all and is extremely charming which immediately rubs the pessimistic Stephen up the wrong way. Mitchell’s character becomes increasingly suspicious of Andrew’s motive for returning and his intentions as he moves closer to the family. Is Andrew just after money? Is he trying to ruin the family? Is he in some way trying to save the family and the family business? Continue reading