The following review, which originally appeared in Critics at Large is reproduced on this site because during the novels under review illustrate how during the Irish 'troubles" all the paramilitary groups and the British security forces crossed that line of darkness.
|Crime novelist Adrian McKinty.|
If we were to only read Adrian McKinty’s sixth and most recent entry of his Sean Duffy series Police at the Station and They Don’t Look Friendly (Seventh Street Books, 2016) and his previous Rain Dogs (2015), we would be gripped by his outstanding opening chapters. In Police at the Station, we are dropped into a tableau that could have emerged from The Sopranos – except it is 1988 in Ulster, during the Irish “Troubles” in which over the course of thirty years 3,600 people were killed by Republican and Loyalist paramilitaries, and the Security Forces. Detective Sean Duffy is being prodded forward with guns to his back through a patch of woods to dig his own grave. (The 2009 film, The Crying Game, is perhaps a better comparison.) He knows this scene well. He has been the responding officer on “half a dozen bodies found face down in a sheugh, buried in a shallow grave, or dumped in a slurry pit on the high bog." Before the reader can wonder whether this series is coming to an end, the next chapter veers back to the beginning of the mess in which Duffy finds himself, the investigation of a drug dealer’s murder shot in the back with a crossbow. In Rain Dogs, Muhammad Ali is visiting Belfast as a "peace tour" and Duffy is on security detail. Although Ali did visit Ireland twice, this fictional scene has the feeling of verisimilitude, given McKinty’s description of the boxer and his face to face with a bunch of skinheads opposed to him on the grounds of the colour of his skin. It is a marvellously constructed opener even though it has nothing to do with the plot that follows.