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Crime & Desire

Writing.ie | Guest Bloggers | Crime Scene

Louise Phillips

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David Butler’s latest novel The Judas Kiss will be launched by New Island next week, and he talks to writing.ie about why Crime and Desire are so inextricably linked….

First things first – what a fantastic title for a novel – 3 words The Judas Kiss and I’m already hooked!

Secondly, this novel comes with a health warning from the opening page-

“… be warned, this is no pretty story. It leads to murder. And I don’t mean the Rev Green in the study with the lead piping. No. This murder is messy – a stone inside a stocking sticky with blood.” Sounds intriguing you must agree:-)

This dark humorous tale of murder and redemption by writer David Butler, is published by New Island, and it’s David’s second novel. I’ll put a biography for David below, but let’s just say for now, this guy knows his literature.

I met David at the Irish Writers Centre last year, around the time his debut poetry collection Via Crucis was published by Doghouse. It’s an amazing collection of poetry, and one I would highly recommend.

Next Tuesday, the 2nd October at 6.30 in Hodges FiggisThe Judas Kiss will be launched, and I’m privileged to be part of the evening’s ceremony, and even better – all of you are welcome. So get there early if you want to secure a good seat!!!

The Judas Kiss has been described as a novel that walks the margins of society in its narrative, raising many questions about poverty, homelessness, the way the state cares for our children and what love is.

In the novel, David has created a Dublin we rarely see, peopled by characters we’d rather not meet, yet still manages to deliver an emotional and rewarding story.

The Judas Kiss

When Bluebottle runs away from a religious institution to live on the streets of Dublin, he is taken in my Malcolm, an ageing sensualist with a penchant for young boys. But lust soon turns into full-blown sexual obsession. There follows the first of a series of increasingly violent encounters which lead, relentlessly, to disfigurement & bloody murder.

A dark and moody novel that touches on paedophilia, disfigurement, homicide and betrayal. But the tale is shot through with wry humour and nuanced sarcasm, creating an atmospheric Dublin that is more noir than bleak.


Poet, short story writer and novelist, David Butler has worked as Education Officer at the James Joyce Centre, and has lectured in Spanish Literature at TCD, Essex University, Carlow College and UCD. His work was most recently short-listed for the 2012 RTE Guide/Penguin Ireland Short Story Competition. His novel The Last European was published in 2005 (Wynkin de Worde), while his debut poetry collection Via Crucis (Doghouse) appeared in 2011. No Greater Love, a collection of his short stories, is due to be launched in London early next year (Ward Wood). He lives in Bray.

HOW TO ORDER THE JUDAS KISS– simply click right here

Crime and Desire

David Butler

From the time I returned to Ireland in 1998 after ten years wandering , and began to take writing seriously, I’ve become intrigued by the fact that crime and desire, or to be precise, violent crime and illicit desire, have from its dark beginnings driven western literature. Some twenty-five centuries before Freud, in his retelling of the Oedipus myth, Sophocles wrote what is arguably the world’s first who-dunnit, providing it with the ultimate twist when the detective discovers he himself to be the criminal, his dynasty founded upon murder and incest. Much the same morbid mixture fuels Hamlet’s dysfunctional royal family, and the infernal triangle of Edmund, Goneril and Regan at the dark heart of King Lear. In Dostoevsky, the dangerous cocktail moves out of the royal palaces and into the slums.

One innovation the twentieth century has brought to the table is the issue of voice, and it is this that I’ve explored in the three ‘Dublin’ novels I’ve written over the past decade. There is something eminently seductive in the first-person narrators of Raymond Chandler and James M Cain, noir, urbane, sexy, hard-boiled and blackly humorous, culminating for me in the sophisticated, lurid imaginings of Nabokov’s Humbert Humbert (Lolita). Irish writing has produced its own identity parade of irresistible degenerates, everyone from Banville’s Freddy Montgomery to McCabe’s Francie Brady. To listen to them retelling the stories of their crimes is to allow oneself to become immersed in a view of the world that is as seductive as it is sick.

My three ‘Dublin’ novels, The Last European (Wynkin de Worde, 2005), The Judas Kiss (New Island, 2012) and City of Dis (currently being redrafted thanks to an Arts Council bursary) are first-person narratives inhabiting the borderlands of illicit desire and violence. In terms of voice, The Judas Kiss is the most elaborate, in that it involves six narrators, each with a partial view of the crime, partial both in the sense of incomplete and of partisan. Each has his or her own agenda. It’s a fascinating way to write, not unlike method-acting in that, to be successful, one has to take on and even empathise with a view of the world that may be alien, unhealthy and lurid. It’s a challenge. But if one doesn’t succeed, one writes caricatures.

And let’s be honest, it’s enormous fun, this make-believe!

  • The Dark Room: A thrilling new novel from the number one Irish Times bestselling author of Keep Your Eyes on Me
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