14 February 2012

Review: THE COLD COLD GROUND, Adrian McKinty

Book Description (Amazon)

There may be troubles ahead...Northern Ireland. Spring 1981. Hunger strikes. Riots. Power cuts. A homophobic serial killer with a penchant for opera. And a young woman's suicide that may yet turn out to be murder. On the surface, the events are unconnected, but then things - and people - aren't always what they seem.

Detective Sergeant Duffy is the man tasked with trying to get to the bottom of it all. It's no easy job - especially when it turns out that one of the victims was involved in the IRA, but last seen discussing business with someone from the UVF. Add to that the fact that as a Catholic policemen, it doesn't matter which side he's on, because nobody trusts him - and Sergeant Duffy really is in a no-win situation. Fast-paced, evocative and brutal, "The Cold, Cold Ground" is a brilliant depiction of Belfast at the height of the Troubles - and a cop treading a thin, thin line.

My take

At the end of the book, in an "About" section, Adrian McKinty says the story "is a police procedural, but a procedural set in extremely unusual circumstances in a controversial police force cracking under extraordinary external and internal pressures..."

THE COLD COLD GROUND is set in Carrickfergus, Northern Ireland, where McKinty was born and grew up. At the time the novel was set, 1981, he was a teenager. He draws much from this background that was so close to him. The result is vivid description.

The novel transports the readers to circumstances that are part of our recent world history, but that many of us are glad we didn't experience first hand. In fact it is difficult for those who have known only tranquillity to imagine what living in Belfast heartland must have been like.THE COLD COLD GROUND helps a little with that.

This is a novel that makes you think. What is the relevance of a police force investigating a murder or a disappearance when so much death and destruction is happening everywhere as the result of terrorist activities? But then also, here are policeman who never know if they are going to come home after a day's work. Ignoring procedures such as checking under your car before starting out could well be fatal.

I think Sergeant Sean Duffy is some one I would like to meet again.  He emerges from his first outing a hero, although a very complex character, and not afraid to deliver his own form of justice. Through him comes a touch of McKinty's quirky black humour. I believe THE COLD COLD GROUND is to be the first in a trilogy, with the next called I HEAR THE SIRENS IN THE STREET.

My rating: 4.6

Other reviews to check:

There is really no shortage of reviews of McKinty's work and this latest novel. McKinty has listed many of them in the sidebar of his blog.
Closer to home see Bernadette's review on Fair Dinkum Crime and Peter's at Detectives Beyond Borders

I have also reviewed FIFTY GRAND

About the author

Adrian McKinty is currently living in Melbourne. Check his blog here.
You might also like to read this post.
Amazon.com lists 11 titles by McKinty, although Fantastic Fiction lists 12.


Sarah said...

Sounds like a good book. Not something I would ordinarily pick up I think. I will look out for it.

adrian mckinty said...


Thanks for the review. I'm really glad you liked the book!


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