EXCERPT: I shone my flashlight and then I saw her.
She was fully clothed, hanging under the limb of an oak tree. She had set up the noose, put her head in it, stepped off a tree stump and then regretted it.
Almost every person who hanged themselves did it wrong.
The noose is supposed to break your neck, not choke you to death.
Lucy had tried desperately to claw through the rope, had even managed to get a finger between the rope and her throat. It hadn’t done any good.
She was blue. Her left eye was bulging out of its socket, her right eyeball had popped onto her cheek.
Apart from that and the lifeless way the breeze played with her brown hair she did not look dead. The birds hadn’t found her yet.
ABOUT THIS BOOK: Two dead.
One left in a car at the side of a road. He was meant to be found quickly. His killer is making a statement.
The other is discovered hanged, deep in a forest. She is surely a suicide.
Detective Sergeant Duffy is the man tasked with trying to get to the bottom of it all. It’s no easy job – especially when it turns out that one of the victims was involved in the IRA, but last seen discussing business with someone from the UVF. Add to that the fact that as a Catholic policemen, it doesn’t matter which side he’s on, because nobody trusts him – and Sergeant Duffy really is in a no-win situation.
MY THOUGHTS: I discovered Sean Duffy late in this series, but loved him so much that I have gone back to read this series from the beginning.
McKinty’s writing is, though often brutal, like liquid honey. It flows easily, even as Duffy makes huge leaps of deduction, often unfounded and misguided. But he is no bumbling fool, merely a man who feels too much, who longs to make a difference, who wants to help stop the madness of the Irish troubles.
Set in the reign of Margaret Thatcher, with the marriage of Prince Charles to Diana Spencer looming, resources are stretched thin. Riots are an every day occurrence, political prisoners are on hunger strikes, and innocent civilians are being killed in the random bombings.
And yet amongst all this carnage and hatred, McKinty manages to convey that there are still good people, people not interested in either side winning, people invested in finding an equitable peace. He even manages to insert a little Irish folk lore – ‘My grandmother told me that the forest was an opening to someplace else. Where things lurked, things we could only half see. Older beings. Shees. Shades of creatures that once walked the natural world, redundant now, awaiting tasks, awaiting their work in dreams.’
McKinty is one of the most talented writers I have ever read for setting atmosphere. As I read, I can hear every inflection, every nuance in the voices, I can smell the odour of death, of putrefaction, I can taste the food, even the whisky – ‘It was the good stuff and it tasted of salt, sea, rain, wind and the Old Testament.’ He brings his work alive.
My favourite quote from The Cold, Cold Ground: ‘William Burroughs said that a paranoid is somebody who knows what is actually going on.’
THE AUTHOR: Adrian McKinty is an Irish novelist. He was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and grew up in Victoria Council Estate, Carrickfergus, County Antrim. He read law at the University of Warwick and politics and philosophy at the University of Oxford. He moved to the United States in the early 1990s, living first in Harlem, New York and from 2001 on, in Denver, Colorado, where he taught high school English and began writing fiction. He lives in Melbourne, Australia with his wife and two children.
DISCLOSURE: I borrowed my copy of The Cold, Cold Ground by Adrian McKinty, published by Serpent’s Tail, from Waitomo District Library. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.
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This review and others are also published on https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2994284793