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The Cold Cold Ground: A Detective Sean Duffy Novel Paperback – November 13, 2012
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*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."
"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!"
"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."
"McKinty belongs to a crew of much-praised Irish crime novelists that includes John Connolly, Declan Burke and Ken Bruen."
"[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
Top customer reviews
Now, Duffy finds two gay men murdered hours apart with their right hands sawed off, supposedly marking them as informers. And, as if that is not enough, an Irish girl is found hanged in some woods; it turns out that she is the ex-wife of one of several Irish hunger strikers. At first it seems that a serial killer of gay men is on the loose having nothing to do with political identity. But not so fast – he discovers one of the victims is actually the head of an ultra secret IRA division. All of a sudden matters have gotten way more complicated.
Duffy is an interesting character, using gut instinct as much as anything. He ignores orders to stay away from the case at considerable personal risk. It is a murky situation: a lot is tolerated, even violence, in the name of being on the right side of the Irish conflict. Anyone making too many waves can be dispensed with.
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. :)
Detective Sargeant Sean Duffy is newly assigned to this Protestant region. He is a born and brought up Catholic, but policing is his business and his love. He is assigned to a murder which turns out to be a serial murder of homosexuals. In 1981, in Ireland the act of homosexuality was illegal, and in the IRA it was a murder signal. No one admitted to or talked about homosexuality, and in this atmosphere DS Duffy was in charge. Intelligent and savvy, Duffy knew his way around. He was able to connect the murders to someone high in the lineage of the IRA, and he was immediately relieved of this case. Of course, a good detective leaves no stone unturned.. The mystery deepens and Duffy is the central character, and he is impressive. He has little fear, and he is someone I want to know.
This is the first of a trilogy in the times of the 'Troubles'. The author has brought us to his home country, and he is an artist with his words and writing. Once you start this book, you become deeply engrossed, there is no turning back. The characters are all well developed, and you know them from the descriptions, therein. This is a series that is sure to catch on quickly. One of the better mysteries of the year.
Recommended. prisrob 04-24-13