Another crackling yarn by Adrian McKinty, author of the amazing Michael Forsythe / Dead Trilogy, this is the second book of The Troubles Trilogy, featuring DCI Sean Duffy. Set in the city of Carrickfergus, just to the northeast of Belfast, in 1982, at the height of "The Troubles", the three decades of social unrest and intense violence which began in the late 1960s until the "Good Friday" agreement of 1998. Gritty and believable, this mystery opens with a dismembered body found in a suitcase and gets deeper and bigger throughout. It is an excellent followup to the tremendous opening book, The Cold Cold Ground.
What a great job McKinty does of evoking these terrible times. So great, in fact, I am on a quest for a modern, unbiased retelling of The Troubles, which I am surprised seems to have not yet been written. The BBC has a very informative website, but there doesn't seem to be a consensus pick for a book. It must have been an awful time. Duffy, a Catholic on a mostly Protestant police force (and thus working for the "enemy"), has to check his car for a "mercury tilt bomb" every time before driving it, as the news is quick to remind him.
The dialog sparkles and cracks, with both humor and pathos. That's one big drawback to listening on audiobook - it's impossible to highlight all the wonderful passages. But narrator Gerard Doyle does a grand job at reading it, with an addicting Irish accent, getting all the place names spot on, as well as all the interesting slang (still not sure of the source of the slang for a pair of sneakers!). He has a little trouble pulling off an American accent, as Duffy makes his way over to the Boston area for a holiday investigation that turns out horrible for him. A little niggling fact check though - Sam Adams beer didn't come out until the mid-1980s, and I don't think it was available on tap until the late 80s. So Duffy heading to a Saugus dive bar for a Sam Adams draft is a historical anachronism. Not sure where he could get a good beer back then.
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