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The Cold Cold Ground: A Detective Sean Duffy Novel [Kindle Edition]

Adrian Mckinty
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (158 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Spring 1981. Northern Ireland. Belfast on the verge of outright civil war. The Thatcher government has flooded the area with soldiers, but nightly there are riots, bombings, and sectarian attacks.

In the midst of the chaos, Sean Duffy, a young, witty, Catholic detective in the almost entirely Protestant Royal Ulster Constabulary, is trying to track down a serial killer who is targeting gay men. As a Catholic policeman, Duffy is suspected by both sides and there are layers of complications. For one thing, homosexuality is illegal in Northern Ireland in 1981. Then he discovers that one of the victims was involved in the IRA, but was last seen discussing business with someone from the Protestant UVF (Ulster Volunteer Force).

Fast-paced, evocative, and brutal, this book is a brilliant depiction of Belfast at the height of the Troubles and a cop caught in the cross fire.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Irish novelist McKinty returns to his roots with the first book of the Troubles Trilogy, set in his hometown during the time he grew up. At the height of conflict between the Catholic IRA and Protestant paramilitary factions in 1981, Sean Duffy, a Catholic police sergeant in the Protestant town of Carrickfergus, near Belfast, gets an unusual case. Two gay men have been murdered, their right hands severed (the classic modus for killing an informant) and switched between the two bodies. Duffy initially suspects a serial killer, but when no more gay men are targeted, he comes to believe that the second killing was done simply to cover up the first, in which the head of the IRA’s feared internal security force was the victim. Even after the case is reassigned, Duffy defies orders and keeps digging, coming up against corruption and collusion. Everything in this novel hits all the right notes, from its brilliant evocation of time and place to razor-sharp dialogue to detailed police procedures. McKinty, author of the Forsythe and Lighthouse Trilogies, has another expertly crafted crime trilogy going here, and readers will want to see what he does in the concluding two books. --Michele Leber


Winner of the 2013 Spinetingler Award for best crime novel!

"Everything in this novel hits all the right notes, from its brilliant evocation of time and place to razor-sharp dialogue to detailed police procedures. McKinty... has another expertly crafted crime trilogy going here, and readers will want to see what he [does] in the next two."
--Booklist Starred Review

"[T]he deft mix of noirish melancholy with express-train pacing and blockbuster-ready action enticingly sets the stage for Duffy's future adventures."
--Publishers Weekly

"For fans of Stuart Neville's crime novels, a new and harrowing Irish trilogy is underway. At turns violent and labyrinthine, McKinty's fine police procedural is also the ultimate page-turner. I cannot wait for Book Two!"
--Library Journal

"McKinty kicks off a trilogy with this 1981 Belfast-set tale that provides a fascinating look at everyday life in Northern Ireland during 'the Troubles.' The protagonist is clever and funny, the interaction of the police and various factions is eye-opening and the mystery is intriguing, with an unexpected twist at the end."
--RT Book Reviews, Four Stars (Compelling Page-turner)

"If Raymond Chandler had grown up in Northern Ireland, The Cold Cold Ground is what he would have written."
--Times of London

"The rage, dissent and blind self-interest of 'the Troubles' are the perfect backdrop for this brutal noir masterpiece.... For all of its brutality, the book is subtle and nuanced.... Duffy [is] the keen observer, the perfect protagonist. A righteous man who unwillingly takes his pursuit of justice into the realm of moral ambiguity."
--Arizona Republic

"McKinty belongs to a crew of much-praised Irish crime novelists that includes John Connolly, Declan Burke and Ken Bruen."
--Sacramento Bee

"[A] superb book. In addition to developing likable and complex characters, McKinty does an exceptional job of depicting Northern Ireland in 1981, interweaving real historical events (e.g., the hunger strike and death of Bobby Sands) into the narrative.... McKinty's evocation of the time is perfect; although it is a dark and troubling place, I can't wait to return to the scene once again."
--Reviewing the Evidence

Product Details

  • File Size: 1199 KB
  • Print Length: 323 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1616147164
  • Publisher: Seventh Street Books (November 13, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00C4B2L2I
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #52,712 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
44 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars While I was chugging beers and wearing a Devo hat January 16, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
In 1981 I was 16, without a care in the world, while across the Atlantic in Ireland...

Having read and enjoyed all of McKinty's previous crime novels, and based on the description of this one, I was pretty confident that it would be discretionary entertainment dollars well spent. However, no author I have read, no matter how much I have enjoyed their past work gets a free pass. In fact, with each novel, the stakes and expectations are raised and as soon as I feel they are relying on old tricks or mining tired, predictable and clichéd themes, I'll move on. This was billed as a police procedural and I'm not really a fan of that genre, so a level playing field was set.

What I experienced was a fearless, hard-hitting, and dare I say, important and perhaps groundbreaking novel. It also enlightened me as to what my aversion of the procedural genre stemmed from. The story takes place in 1981 where the cops for the most part, relied on detective work and instinct, rather than technology. This is a world before cell phones, DNA, and all the other crutches that are so commonplace in modern crime fiction. Sean Duffy is a great character and If you took the best qualities of John Thaw's Inspector Morse and The Sweeney's John Regan, added a jigger of cool, and a splash of very entertaining wit, you'll get an idea of what he is all about.

The first person narrative was done superbly and I felt like I was side-by-side with Duffy and his excellent supporting cast of characters- in the Land Rover, on the streets, at the station, and all the other locations the story took me to.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Troubles Story Told The Right Way January 20, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
Adrian McKinty is one of my favourite writers. He's a forerunner in the latest generation of Northern Irish crime writers. And this is the book he was born to write. A police procedural featuring a catholic RUC officer set against the backdrop of the 1981 hunger strikes. Talk about ambitious... But McKinty is a master of the craft and he has applied all of his talent to The Cold, Cold Ground.

The writing is electrifying, the characters top notch and his ability to spin a great yarn is enviable. If you want to learn a little about that crazy chapter in Northern Irish history and read an excellent story as well, you need look no further.

Buy this book.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Not so Cold Ground January 16, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Having stumbled into Adrian McKinty's Dead series by accident, I was thrilled to find he was writing another Irish character. That this takes place in N. Ireland was even better. I never expected him to write a character I could enjoy as much as Michael Forsythe. He did. Detective Sergent Sean Duffy takes us on a thrilling and interesting journey through Carrickfergus in 1981. Bobby Sands has just died. And then someone kills two gay men. Detective Duffy is on the case.

The best part of this book? Really it's McKinty's character. Sean was smart, brave (to the point of stupidity) and such a smart-arse. He tells us his story with ease and such clarity you feel like you're there.

I wasn't even born yet, when this all took place. The only thing I knew about The Trouble was the IRA liked to set off car bombs. And what they sang about in Irish rebel songs. This book gives you a completely different perspective. I found it both exciting and interesting to hear about how a peeler had to get dressed in riot gear just to check a murder victim's house for clues. Or the daily checking for car bombs. That wearing a seat belt was considered more dangerous than not.

The mystery itself is interesting, unique and ties so many things together that the back ground is just as important as the murder itself.

I could not recommend this book highly enough, despite my terribly punny review title. :)
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding! January 16, 2012
By SS42k
I've been a fan of Adrian McKinty's books for a couple of years. He's a leading member of a group of writers from Ireland writing crime fiction. The "Dead Trilogy" is highly recommended but The Cold Cold Ground is his best yet.

McKinty's style is reminiscent of Raymond Chandler and other writers of great crime fiction. Sean Duffy, the protagonist in TCCG, is so well-drawn that one might recognize him on the street. Duffy is very human, loves books ("Midnight's Children" in audio!) and music ("Venus in Furs"!) and is generally a good guy. He's a Catholic police detective in Northern Ireland.

The book is set in Northern Ireland in 1981, during the famous hunger strikes. That is in the middle of the The Troubles. That historical backdrop is a fascinating setting for this book. Many readers will learn things about those times that aren't common knowledge. Unlike many popular authors, McKinty will not talk down to his readers, rather, he challenges readers with his thoughtful writing.

The reader, Gerard Doyle, is wonderful. His narration adds greatly to this book.

This is good story, a bit of a whodunit but the book is really about Northern Ireland's civil strife and Sean Duffy. Since this is the first book of a Sean Duffy series, I'm eagerly looking forward to book 2!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Interesting take on the old problems in northern Ireland. A new "Lee Child"??
Published 11 days ago by Dan Hardie
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
good yarn with good twists looking forward to reading the next one
Published 25 days ago by cleator
5.0 out of 5 stars McKinty Does It Again
Great opening novel to a new series from fantastic crime/noir writer, Adrian McKinty. Duffy makes for the perfect protagonist in civil war-torn Northern Ireland. Read more
Published 29 days ago by Evan Ronan
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good and entertaining.
What a nice discovery! I only got the sample first but bought the whole booking even before finishing the sample. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Sakke
5.0 out of 5 stars Irish noir
I really loved it. It was very fast paced in vain of Ken Bruen and the dialogue was very sharp and the action was really intense. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Jeremy
1.0 out of 5 stars I enjoyed this enormously
I enjoyed this enormously.
I also enjoyed another perspective on 'the troubles'.Well written, good english, good musical and literary allusions
Published 1 month ago by valerie webb
4.0 out of 5 stars Guaranteed pure engagement
Loved it. This is the first in the series and each one gets better than the last
Published 1 month ago by Rebecca Anne
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
just discovered this writer - i am hooked
Published 1 month ago by sally
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved this book
Loved this book. Never really interested in "the troubles" but they are only a backdrop for the book. And the bleakness they added to the story was perfect. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Audeen Moore
5.0 out of 5 stars A ripper
Oh I really really liked this. In a sense a pretty standard cop tale, but in an unusual setting - Ireland during the 'troubles' - with an unusual lead - the only Catholic cop in... Read more
Published 1 month ago by TJ
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More About the Author

I was born and grew up in Carrickfergus, Northern Ireland. I studied law at Warwick University and politics and philosophy at Oxford University. In the early 90's I emigrated to New York City where I worked in bars, building sites and bookstores for seven years before moving to Denver, Colorado to become a high school English teacher. In 2008 I moved again, this time to Melbourne, Australia with my wife and kids.

My first Sean Duffy novel, The Cold Cold Ground, won the 2013 Spinetingler Award.

The second Sean Duffy novel, I Hear The Sirens In The Street, won the 2014 Barry Award.

In The Morning I'll Be Gone (Sean Duffy #3) won the 2014 Ned Kelly Award and was picked as one of the top 10 crime novels of 2014 by the American Library Association.

British/Irish newspaper reviews for Duffy#3, In The Morning I'll Be Gone:

A locked room mystery within a manhunt killer [is] a clever and gripping set-up that helps makes Duffy's third outing easily his best so far.
The Sunday Times

Not content with constructing a complex plot, McKinty further wraps his story around a deliciously old-fashioned locked room mystery, the solution to which holds the key to Duffy's entire investigation. Driven by McKinty's brand of lyrical, hard-boiled prose, leavened by a fatalistic strain of the blackest humour, In the Morning I'll Be Gone is a hugely satisfying historical thriller.
The Irish Times

[A] superb trilogy reaches its finality...The hunt for [Duffy's quarry] begins and ends spectacularly. McKinty is particularly convincing in painting the political and social backdrops to his plots. He deserves to be treated as one of Britain's top crime writers.
The Times

An action movie view of the Troubles...a fast and thrilling ride from the reliably excellent McKinty.
The Mail On Sunday

It's a sad day for fans of Adrian McKinty's smart 1980s-set procedurals featuring mordantly charismatic Belfast cop Sean Duffy. Not because his latest, In the Morning I'll Be Gone is any sort of let-down, but because it concludes what has been a hugely enjoyable trilogy. In some ways, Duffy resembles Iain Banks's young male heroes - crass and impetuous, but also wickedly funny and capable of an intense, redeeming empathy.
The Guardian

This is the third in the series and, for me, the best, for it contains a locked room mystery at the heart of a drama about a major terrorist escape from the Maze prison, Belfast in 1983. Written in spare, razor-sharp prose, and leading up to a denouement that creeps up on you and then explodes like a terrorist bomb, it places McKinty firmly in the front rank of modern crime writers.
The Daily Mail

An older, more sobered Duffy, still unconventional and willing to take chances, but more reflective, more Sherlock Holmes. His growing maturity results in fewer bedroom scenes but there is plenty of excitement and suspense elsewhere in this intelligent and gripping yarn.
The Irish Independent

Sardonic Belfast cop Sean Duffy [in] another terrific Troubles-set thriller 4.5/5
The Sun

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