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The Cold, Cold Ground by Adrian McKinty

The Cold, Cold Ground (2012)

by Adrian McKinty

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The first Sean Duffy novel, and it's quite gripping. The voice and the sense of place are excellent, and I was sucked in from the first chapter. I was afraid this was going to turn out to be a serial killer of gay men story, and I'm so tired of those, but it was much more. The setting in 1981 during the hunger strikes and the Troubles in Belfast were vivid.

The writing was mostly good but uneven. I liked the clues that linked to Greek myths and to 19thC operas, and McKinty provided convincing explanations for why they were chosen (and I appreciated that many of the higher-ups in the various insurgent forces were smart and educated). But in the second half in particular the writing got a bit too indulgent and Duffy verged on a caricature of the brilliant misunderstood copper. The ending was definitely OTT. And the women; even when they had advanced degrees and were gorgeous, they just couldn't resist Sean. Come on, people. It's not necessary to the plot.

Still, it was a pageturner and I kept returning to it to see where it was going. I'm looking forward to the next one. ( )
  Sunita_p | Mar 11, 2017 |
First in the Sean Duffy series, 2nd for me since I accidentally read the 2nd one first, and I continue to enjoy the background history of the protests in Ireland of the 80's as well as a refresher into the 80's music. Detective Duffy has pretty good taste.

This story about a homosexual serial killer in Ireland was really interesting. Ireland with it's ability for its citizens to kill easily enough by joining the IRA or other similar groups does not bred serial killers so this was a particularly intriguing case for Duffy. I love his brilliance and how his mind works and his interactions with the rest of his squad. ( )
  she_climber | Jan 6, 2017 |
My first Adrian McKinty book (and it won't be my last).

McKinty is a stylist and his protagonist often muses on the ironies and complexities of human existence. It is both beautiful and astonishingly well grounded in history.

What this book does better than anything else is show how complicated life in that time (1981), in that place (Northern Ireland)could be. How the politics of power, hate and influence played themselves out, how a copper in a small town could hang on and try to make a difference in a world that had gone completely and utterly mad.

This is a novel that made me 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? Here are policemen who never knew if they were going to come home after a day’s work. Ignoring procedures such as checking under your car before starting out could well be fatal. It's mind boggling to see how people accepted the chaotic situation as normal.

The Cold Cold Ground" was an outstanding read. What made it so special was not only the story which was really ingenious, but also the prose which was filled with delightful local colour.

I was totally drawn into the character, plot and the dark, frightening atmosphere of 1981 Belfast.

McKinty's expressive use of imagery elevates what could have been a common whodunit to a work of serious fiction.

" ( )
  antao | Dec 10, 2016 |
The Cold, Cold Ground by Adrian Mckinty
The Troubles Trilogy Book #1

From The Book:
Spring 1981. Northern Ireland. Belfast on the verge of outright civil war. The Thatcher government has flooded the area with soldiers, but nightly there are riots, bombings, and sectarian attacks.

In the midst of the chaos, Sean Duffy, a young, witty, Catholic detective in the almost entirely Protestant Royal Ulster Constabulary, is trying to track down a serial killer who is targeting gay men. As a Catholic policeman, Duffy is suspected by both sides and there are layers of complications. For one thing, homosexuality is illegal in Northern Ireland in 1981. Then he discovers that one of the victims was involved in the IRA, but was last seen discussing business with someone from the Protestant UVF (Ulster Volunteer Force). Fast-paced, evocative, and brutal, this book is a brilliant depiction of Belfast at the height of the Troubles and a cop caught in the cross fire.

My Thoughts:
The story was very close to my heart as my grandparents left Northern Ireland with my 3 year old mother and her 5 year old sister in 1926. They decided that the The Troubles were not a time that they wanted to raise a family in and my grandfather was Scottish and that was another story.

The time is 1981. It was a time when the technology that we rely so much on today was in it's infancy and the police for the most part, had to rely on what we now nostalgically refer to as "good old fashion detective work". DNA analysis was just coming on the forefront in criminal investigation, Enter Detective Sean Duffy...a really likable, imaginative character. If you were to take the best of John Thaw's Inspector Morse , Ian Rankin's John Rebus and add a bit of Peter James's Roy Grace stir well with some unexpected humor...you'll begin to see what this man is all about. I can not recommend this book highly enough. I only hope the next two in the trilogy are as intriguing as this one. ( )
  Carol420 | Nov 18, 2016 |
What's most impressive about Adrian Mckinty's novel (the first in a series of crime novels featuring detective Sean Duffy) is the early 1980s Belfast setting. All the historical elements are there, most prominently the death of Bobby Sands and the other hunger strikers, but also background events such as the Yorkshire Ripper murders in England.
The dismal, violent, fearful streets of the city are skilfully evoked and Sean Duffy himself is perfectly positioned in the centre of it all as a catholic living in a protestant street, viewed with suspicion by both his neighbours and his own catholic community who consider him a traitor working for the largely protestant police force.
However, the problem I had with the novel is that I couldn't relate to the c haracter of Sean Duffy. I prefer my police heroes to be conflicted, messed up men or women (e.g. Ian Rankin's Rebus or Saga Noren in 'The Bridge'). Duffy is ultra tough, brave and foolhardy - an action man as adept with a machine gun as he is with his fists. He also seems indestructible. On top of this, he's an educated, well read intellectual with a comprehensive knowledge of music (rock and classical). Plus, he has a beautiful pathologist girlfriend and he drives a BMW (really?).
Having said all that, the story rattles along and is gripping in places, although it became overcomplicated with too many twists near the end, including a strange trip to Italy. Maybe the lter books in the series are better. ( )
1 vote stephengoldenberg | Apr 6, 2016 |
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It is rumoured that after concluding his song about
the war in Ilium, Homer sang next of the war
between frogs and rats.
              -Jorge Luis Borges, "The Immortal," 1949
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The riot had taken on a beauty of its own now.
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In a 1981 Northern Ireland rife with sectarian violence, Catholic detective Sean Duffy investigates a serial killer who is targeting gay men--a series of murders that may have political implications as well.

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