Sunday, January 11, 2015

Sean Duffy #4 - The Irish Indy's Verdict

Sean Duffy #4 "Gun Street Girl" was reviewed by Maurice Hayes in the Irish Independent newspaper (Ireland's best selling broadsheet) below. I've removed major spoilers by making the text white at those points (highlighting the text will reveal it if you really want to know). Maurice hated The Sun Is God but he seems to have enjoyed Sean Duffy #4:
So. Sean Duffy is back, having saved Margaret Thatcher from destruction in the Brighton hotel bombing, reinstated in his rank as detective inspector in the RUC, but marooned in a promotional and career backwater as one of the few Catholics in the force, a suspected maverick whose credentials as a company man are doubted by his superiors. He is, however, back as the old Sean Duffy, ruefully wiser and aged by lifestyle, a music buff with catholic tastes in art and literature far outside the scope of the average plod, not to mind his familiarity with Occam's Razor and his taste for high-class cocaine and single-malt scotch whisky.

Adrian McKinty is back, too, with the same funny and perceptive commentary on social conditions and an acute awareness of political realities in the Belfast of the eighties which locates a fast-moving narrative in the context of recognisable historical events, or fictional allusions to others.

So we have as reference points the Anglo-Irish Agreement, the Iran-Contra scandal and a spooky Oliver North type figure, the theft of missiles from Short Brothers, the death from drugs of a Cabinet Minister's daughter, a toffy clique that looks like the Bullingdon Club, and the infamous helicopter crash on the Mull of Kintyre which decimated the Northern Ireland intelligence establishment.
The story starts with an open-and-shut case - a spoilt and disaffected rich boy who has dropped out of university, shoots his parents as they watch television and then jumps over a cliff, leaving a written confession.

It is all too neat, too professional and cold-blooded for an angry boy. Duffy sets off on a trail which takes him far outside his comfort-zone, to cover-up in the higher reaches of the British establishment and to American intelligence adventurers who may be located very close to the White House.

In the course of the inquiry, conscious that he is going nowhere in the RUC, Duffy is headhunted for a bigger game by MI5 in a rather unusual recruitment procedure. However, a fortuitous injury sustained while trying to settle a domestic dispute has him refused passage on the Chinook helicopter which carried so many of his colleagues and prospective colleagues to their deaths.

Lucky for him. Lucky, too, for us. Duffy is a brilliant character and there must be plenty of unresolved crimes, even in a backwater like Carrickfergus, for him to tackle and for Adrian McKinty to turn into further gripping episodes of this terrific series.
Thank you very much Mr Hayes! And since I have your attention gentle reader I might just point you towards the reviews of Gun Street Girl which have been very strong so far, here. And to some very perceptive blog reviews here, and here.