Sam Millar

References

Life
1955- ; b. Belfast; son of a merchant seaman who was left by his wife; he was raised brutally by his father; jailed for IRA membership; participated in “dirty blanket” protest; released with remission following Maze escape, 1983; moved to New York and worked in the casino industry; lived in American for ten years with his common-law wife Bernadette and three children; conceived the plan for a $8M Brink depot robbery in Rochester, Upper NY State, which he carried out with one associate (“Marco”); opened a comics store in the aftermath but was arrested by FBI with ab presumed accomplice in the person of an ascetic Brit-hating priest (“Father Pat”), on discovery of the banknotes in a supposedly “safe” apartment;
 
tried and imprisoned for 60 months but pardoned after 20 months by President Clinton on intervention of Martin Morgan, a Sinn Fein Councillor in Belfast, and Paul McGuigan, an Irish-American lawyer in Washington; returned to Ireland under police guard, Oct. 1995, and completed US sentence by agreement at Magheraberry Prison, Nov. 1997; wrote “Rain”, winner of Brian Moore Short Story Award, 1998; issued Dark Souls (April 2003) a first novel, shortly followed by On the Brinks (2003), a thriller-memoir based on the American robbery departing from a graphic memoir of the Maze naming fellow inmates and warders;
 
issued The Redemption Factory (2005), a novel of loyalist violence, murder and corruption; The Darkness of Bones (2006) is a recreation of the Belfast Kincora boys’ orphanage sex-abuse scandal featuring a troubled cop-turned-private-eye, Jack Calvert; issued Bloodstorm (2008), the story of revenge upon a rapist-serial killer by private eye Karl Kane, himself the son of a victim; also author of short stories; winner of Martin Healy Prize, Aisling Award for Art and Culture, and the Cork Literary Review competition, and latterly a best-seller in the blood-splattered gumshoe genre with victimage and vengeance as underlying themes;
 
film rights for On the Brinks have been bought by Warner Bros.; The Dark Place (2009), inaugurates a new crime series featuring Kark Kane.

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Works
Fiction
  • Dark Souls (Galway: Wynkin de Worde 2003);
  • The Redemption Factory (Dingle: Brandon Press 2005), 253pp.;
  • Darkness in the Bones (Dingle: Brandon Press 2006), 234pp.;
 
Karl Kane series
  • Bloodstorm (Dingle: Brandon Press 2008), 223pp.
  • The Dark Place (Dingle: Brandon Press 2009), q.pp.
 
Memoir
  • On the Brinks: Memoir (Galway: Wynkin de Worde 2003), 280pp.;

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Quotations

On the Brinks (2003) - on setting up a comics store in Rochester, while still lying low after the successful Brinks heist:

 

 ‘My love for and addiction to American comics could be blamed squarely on my father. It was he, after all, who had started me on the carousel by introducing me to the wonders of Marvel and DC at the early age of seven, bringing back bundles of them from his trips to New York as a merchant seaman. The writers and artists had a profound impact on my youth, employing a dazzling range of storytelling devices. I learned more {192} about the world of words from Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Neal Adams, Jim Steranko and Steve Ditko - the unchallenged masters - than I ever did from any combination of teachers with angry leather straps and angrier leather faces. Graphic artists like Robert Crumb and Art Spiegelman filled an even greater need in me, later.

 ‘Tomorrow would bring the big day. I was nervous and excited. What if it was a complete flop? What if no one came? What if …

 ‘But I believed, deep in my heart, that they would come, eventually and I would be watching the kids faces light up, their images travelling in a universal language of silence, where necessity of words is irrelevant, remembering my own tiny face in the wee shop on the Duncairn Gardens as I pleaded with the woman to hold on to X-Men #14 for me, promising her I would have her three pence in a week, and here is my bus money and school-dinner money as a down payment and commitment of trust. I tell her she can even hold on to the comic until I come up with the goods. Does she not realise that the comics are the only things keeping me sane in a house gone mad? All I ask is that she put the comic under the counter, away from greedy prying eyes, away from someone who would have the audacity to take what rightfully belonged to me. She is amazed by my passion and tells me she will hold it for three days. I’m devastated because I know I will never get my hands on that sort of money in the time {193} allocated. And then it becomes so clear it frightens me. I will be able to get it! Why didn’t I think of this before? Tomorrow is the day I bring the rent for my father’s house up to be paid on the Antrim Road at the wee corner business. It’s simple. I’ll sign the wee orange book. I can master the signature on it perfectly. My father will never know and I’ll have enough money to buy as many comics as I can carry. Fuck! Why didn’t I think of this before? It’s perfect and the great thing about it is that I will be able to do it every week, for the rest of my life. I’m gonna be rich …’ (pp.192-94.)

Reference
Official website at www.millarcrime.com incorporates accounts of works and snippets from enthusiastic reviews.

Wynkin de Worde - dustjacket of On the Brinks includes a notice of an appraisal of the story “Rain” on the part of Jennifer Johnston who speaks of ‘fluency and courage of language.’

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