Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Cold Cold Ground - The Irish Independent's Verdict

Castlemara Estate, Carrickfergus, 2011

Maurice Hayes reviews The Cold Cold Ground in Sunday's Irish Indy. I love the review but be careful, there are some spoilers near the end...And as usual I'd appreciate your reviews on Amazon, Good Reads or your blog. Over to you space cowboy
Detective Sergeant Sean Duffy introduced by Adrian McKinty in the first of a trilogy of detective stories set in Northern Ireland in the middle of the Troubles, could well become a cult figure.
A Catholic member of the RUC (one of the 7pc) equally at risk of being murdered by the IRA for his profession and by loyalists for his religion, an Irish speaker from the Glens of Antrim, fluent in several languages, with a degree in psychology and an interest in opera, tempted to join the IRA after Bloody Sunday and propelled into the police by a pub bombing, courting a pathologist girlfriend among the corpses, he is a very unusual copper indeed.
McKinty has established a good track record in the genre and in his return to his native sod for he shows that he has not lost his touch or his eye for the bizarre and the macabre, or his ear for the Belfast accent and argot.
The plot has Duffy assigned to investigate what appears to be a serial killer of homosexuals who taunts the police by placing clues strewn with obscure references to operas, and the apparently unconnected suicide of the estranged wife of a hunger striker.
Set against a backdrop of riots in the middle of the 1981 hunger strikes and the death of Bobby Sands, McKinty creates a marvellous sense of time and place; an evocation of darkness and horror, of corruption and collusion, of the fraught life of a policeman, of the domination of areas by paramilitary groups at war with each other and with the British state but colluding on drugs and criminality, the immediacy of death and the cheapness of life.
Taken off the case when he stumbles on an IRA connection, warned off by Special Branch and army intelligence protective of their agents and informants, Duffy keeps doggedly on, defying the rules and risks to himself and his girlfriend until he secures a confession and a very rough sort of justice for the murders which turn out not to be homophobic, but an attempt by a mole to cover his tracks.
Real people walk in and out of the story.
There are a couple of nearly recognisable loyalist warlords, and a character based loosely on Freddie Scappaticci is central to the story, and the old chestnut of whether Gerry Adams might be Stakeknife.
In the speed of the action and the twists of the plot, small details do not always matter, but a few will grate with local readers.
In the main, though, he manages to catch the brooding atmosphere of the 1980s and to tell a ripping yarn at the same time.
There will be many readers waiting for the next adventure of the dashing and intrepid Sergeant Duffy.

22 comments:

adrian mckinty said...

And here's what Shotsmag had to say

Paul D Brazill said...

I haven't read it yet so I'm avoiding reviews but great to see they're all positive.

adrian mckinty said...

Paul

Yeah I understand that.

adrian mckinty said...

And here's a review from Bite the Book

Roymonde said...

So good to see these great reviews. My copy arrived today, can't wait to read it. Lets hope this stops you having to go back to ghost writing... or crime.

adrian mckinty said...

Roy

I dont which of those would be more horrible. Probably the ghost writing.

Hey if you like the book, I'd dig a review even a shorty anywhere...

Slainte

Roymonde said...

Sure, it would be a pleasure.

adrian mckinty said...

Roy

Cheers mate I appreciate it.

Peter Rozovsky said...

The Sunday Independent has done good things for crime fiction. They sponsored a two-day crime-fiction within a larger book festival in 2008 where I met many of Ireland's best crime writers. They obviously have good taste as well.
====================
Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"
http://www.detectivesbeyondborders.blogspot.com/

Kate said...

From what I've read online, the Independent's an impressive paper. Has anyone else read John Paul McCarthy's article on Sands, and the many extreme comments it provoked? I don't think I'll ever understand. (I don't know what to think or believe. The Wind That Shakes the Barley only confused me more.) It's made me more eager for my copies of TCCG, Stuart Neville, and A Rage for Order when it comes back in stock.

John McFetridge said...

The picture at the top of this post really shows, I think, one of the biggest challenges for this kind of novel - the idea that some people think dressing up all in black, with hoods even, and carrying machine guns will somehow make life better for people living in quite normal looking houses.

So, again, well done, Adrian.

Javamike said...

I can't find this on Audible, when does it come out in the us? - Mike

Kate said...

John,

That's one scary mural. Can't imagine its effect on young kids. I thought the paramilitaries had given up their arms?

adrian mckinty said...

Peter

I think its Ireland biggest selling broadsheet too.

adrian mckinty said...

John

It can't be good for potential investors to see something like that either can it?

adrian mckinty said...

Javamike

According to the Blackstone website its been recorded so I reckon it'll be released late this week or early next.

adrian mckinty said...

Kate

In theory yes, de facto of course not. Protection rackets and drug dealing still are good business in Carrick, Belfast and elsewhere in N Ireland.

Peter Rozovsky said...

Can't be good for tourists, but-- well, it can. But my first meaningful glimpse of Belfast came at the end of a long day (flight to Dublin, bus to Belfast straight from the airport) and the first thing I see as the bus pulls into the station, with dusk falling, is the "You Are Entering Loyalist Sandy Row" mural. It was just the slightest bit disquieting.

The funny thing, to this North American observer, is that the other end of Sandy Row, at Lisburn Road, looks like a perfectly neat, calm residential street. We are used to a bit of squalor with our violence.
================================
Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"
http://www.detectivesbeyondborders.blogspot.com/

StewartL64 said...

Hi Adrian.

I read the review of Cold Cold Ground in the Sunday Times and was instantly hooked. Like yourself, I grew up in Carrickfergus, and was a teenager at the time of the Hunger Strikes. That particular era has left an indelible mark, and whilst I'll freely admit I took the first chance I could to get the hell out of Carrickfergus, I still have a grim fascination for the place. Incidentally, on your blog page there's a photograph of a Loyalist mural in Castlemara estate, I actually lived in that very house at one point, so it was doubly freaky coming to your blog and seeing that.

Anyway, it's safe to say my interest is well and truly piqued. I shall be buying your book, can't wait to read it.

Good Luck.

adrian mckinty said...

Stewart

I grew up in Victoria Estate. Maybe I'm wrong but I always though Castlemara was a tad scarier.

StewartL64 said...

Adrian.

I grew up out in Eden, them moved to Castlemara for a while. I just found the whole place dark and depressing, it wasn't scary for me as such, had family involved, and whilst I was never interested in any of that guff, people gave me a free pass cos they knew who I was connected to.

Here, maybe this'll make you laugh, do you remember the Victoria Mafia?

By the way, I just bought the Kindle edition of the Cold Cold Ground, really looking forward to reading it.

Cheers.

adrian mckinty said...

Stewart

Well I got roughed up once or twice on the North Road but never on Coronation Road because people knew me there.