I Hear the Sirens in the Street by Adrian McKinty
|I Hear the Sirens in the Street by Adrian McKinty|
|Reviewer: Robin Leggett|
|Summary: The second outing for Sean Duffy, McKinty's Catholic policeman in the mainly Protestant RUC in Northern Ireland in the early 1980s. Pacey, twisty, dark and clever - all you could want from a crime thriller with added nostalgia value.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 256||Date: January 2013|
|Publisher: Serpent's Tail|
|External links: Author's website|
Detective Sergeant Sean Duffy's next case begins with a case - specifically an old suitcase containing the torso of an unknown victim. The setting is Northern Ireland in 1982. 'The Troubles' are at their height, the British army are heading to the Falklands and John DeLorean is producing 'Back to the Future' sports cars. Duffy is something of an anomaly - a Catholic officer in the predominantly Protestant RUC - which places him in a precarious position.
Adrian McKinty's I Hear the Sirens in the Street is his second Duffy novel and it sees him right back to his very best form. It's full of pathos and has an intricate plot line that keeps Duffy, and the reader, guessing throughout. There's dark humour and violence and he evokes the time and place of the novel with unerring accuracy. It's full of musical, political and cultural references that, if you are old enough to remember the period, takes you right back. Plastic Bertrand is on the record player and cigarettes are £2 a pack.
Duffy’s first outing was in The Cold Cold Ground. It's certainly not necessary to have read this book, although if you plan on reading them out of order, be aware that there are some plot spoilers about the first book in I Hear the Sirens in the Street. It's something of a double edged sword - there is nothing more annoying that reading about a character who has undergone some fairly traumatic events in a previous adventure with apparently less impact on his character than if he'd popped down the shops, so it's good that his previous exploits are recognized. Also The Cold Cold Ground made much more of Duffy's Catholicism in a Protestant police force which explains a lot of his situation. However, in my opinion, I Hear the Sirens in the Street is a much better book, largely because it concentrates on what McKinty does so well - driving an exciting, twisty plot and building up that sense of thrilling crime fiction. The Cold Cold Ground is by no means a bad book, but I enjoyed this book far more. At his best, McKinty is the equal of any of the current batch of crime thriller writers - and this is him at his best.
The story, narrated by Duffy, takes in both the urban and rural Northern Irish settings, as well as a brief international trip for Duffy. Both are equally well drawn beneath the ever-raining Irish sky. What McKinty also catches well is the lack of communication between parties that are supposed to be on the same side. Duffy himself isn't necessarily particularly likeable - he's not the type that girls would want to take home to meet the folks - but he tries to do the right thing. Most of the time. He's something of a maverick within the RUC but he always tries to protect his colleagues when he is off on one of his speculative jaunts that are not sanctioned by the higher ups.
If you like your crime thrillers to be action packed with plenty of sharp dialogue then this book will be very much up your street and the 1980s nostalgic element is terrific. Obviously I cannot disclose too much about the plot, but suffice to say that McKinty is adept at keeping you guessing until the very end about who had what part to play. The only bad point is that we have to wait until 2014 for the third book in this series And in the Morning I'll be Gone. I cannot wait.
Our grateful thanks to the kind people at Serpent's Tail for sending us this book.
For more Celtic crime fiction, check out Standing in Another Man's Grave by Ian Rankin.
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