The Cold Cold Ground, by Adrian McKinty

A shock of mid-length yellow hair was visible from here.
I walked closer.
The cliche of every cops and robbers show – the dead blonde in the garbage tip. Course the blonde was always a bird, not what we had before us: some chubby guy with yellow tips in a denim AC/DC jacket.

It is 1981 and Detective Sergeant Sean Duffy is called on to investigate a strange case. Two men have been murdered, their bodies found in different locations, but each with a severed hand, and the hand of the other located next to each body. Duffy suspects he might be on the trail of Northern Ireland’s first ever serial killer. In the meantime, he has a second case to investigate – the apparent suicide of a young woman, which Duffy suspects may turn out to be a murder. The cases may be different, but Duffy finds links between the two, involving the IRA and their enemies, the UVF. For Duffy the case is even more complex, because no one trusts a Catholic policeman.

The Cold, Cold Ground is crime fiction, but it is also more – an absorbing blend of social and political history, set amidst the turmoil of 1981 in Belfast. Whilst the murders and most of the characters are fictional, events including the famous hunger strikes are real, and both frame and influence the turns of the fictional tale. McKinty is careful though to keep the focus on his characters and story, allowing the historical events to build but not overshadow the story.

The Cold, Cold Ground is the first of three Sean Duffy stories planned. It will be a pleasure to see where this character – and his creator – takes us.

The Cold, Cold Ground

The Cold, Cold Ground, by Adrian McKinty
Serpent’s Tail, 2012
ISBN 9781846688225

This book can be purchased from good bookstore or online from Fishpond.