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Troubling times

Cover of The Cold Cold Ground
A review of The Cold Cold Ground by Adrian McKinty

Given the way this day has started for us with extremely (and way too early) cold, cold ground, my MADreads review today is extremely appropriate.

This is McKinty's first book in his Sean Duffy series and introduces RUC (Royal Ulster Constabulary) detective Sean Duffy working in Northern Ireland in 1981 at the height of the "Troubles". Sean is a rarity, a Catholic working in the mostly Protestant force, who has made the rank of sergeant at a young age and is assigned to the station in Carrickfergus. As the book opens he's called out to the scene of a murder, which initially looks like a politically motivated killing, but soon begins to seem like the first for a burgeoning serial killer. As Sean delves into the murder he becomes entangled in the political and military maneuvering of the IRA, the Protestant UVF and all the official agencies keeping an eye on them.

McKinty throws a lot at the reader, but it's all fascinating. This period in Irish history is not that long ago and yet I found I only knew the very bare bones and had no clue what a war zone Belfast was and how complicated the politics of the warring factions were. And while the mystery is fairly gritty, Sean's self-deprecating humor lightens the tone just enough. Great stuff.

Oct 31, 2019