Book Review: The Cold Cold Ground by Adrian McKinty

The Cold Cold GroundThe Cold Cold Ground
Book One The Troubles Trilogy
Adrian McKinty
Seventh Street Books, November 2012
Trade Paperback

1981. The Pope is almost assassinated. Lady Diana is soon to be married. Prime Minister Thatcher is in charge. The Yorkshire Ripper trial is ongoing. Juice Newton and Blondie sing their pop hits on the radio. Riots and bombings in Northern Ireland. Welcome to Belfast and its suburbs. Where the IRA and other initialed Catholic and Protestant factions battle against the government, the cops, and each other.

Detective Sergeant Sean Duffy is called to a murder scene where a man has been shot, his hand cut off and laid nearby. Except it isn’t his hand and soon another body is found…with the first victim’s hand on the scene. Another major piece of evidence is that both men were homosexual, which, in 1981, is illegal in Northern Ireland. Duffy and his team barely get a chance to start working the cases when they’re assigned to investigate the death of an IRA member’s ex-wife found hanged in deep woods. Suicide or murder? What are the connections between the deaths? How do the deaths relate to the homosexual community and the local gangsters? Duffy is faced with not only the murders, but growing tensions from the community, within the police force…and his own morals.

A police procedural with bite. The cultural references of the time period (music, cars, technology) take me back to my early days in school. This story wouldn’t have worked had it been written back then. Now it brings that period of history to life in all its wonderful, sordid, and explosive ways. Don’t worry about the foreign setting. I wasn’t confused or disappointed but relished the chance to settle into the Irish culture and the chance to revisit the past. McKinty‘s first in the Troubles trilogy is the beginning of what is sure to be a series to anticipate.

Reviewed by Stephen L. Brayton, April 2013.
Author of Night Shadows, Beta and Alpha.