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The Cold Cold Ground: Sean Duffy 1 (Detective Sean Duffy 1) Paperback – 5 Jan 2012

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Serpent's Tail (5 Jan. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846688221
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846688225
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 2.5 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (131 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 272,445 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I was born and grew up in Carrickfergus, Northern Ireland. I studied law at Warwick University and politics and philosophy at Oxford. In the early 90's I emigrated to New York City where I worked at various odd jobs with varying degrees of legality until 2001 when I moved to Denver, Colorado to become a high school English teacher. In 2008 I emigrated again, this time to Melbourne, Australia with my wife and kids.

My first Sean Duffy novel, The Cold Cold Ground, won the 2013 Spinetingler Award.

The second Sean Duffy novel, I Hear The Sirens In The Street, won the 2014 Barry Award.

In The Morning I'll Be Gone (Sean Duffy #3) won the 2014 Ned Kelly Award and was picked as one of the best 5 crime novels of 2014 by The Mail on Sunday, The Toronto Star & The American Library Association.

Here's a supercut of reviews for Sean Duffy #3 (I've removed spoilers):

...the novel hence becomes a locked room mystery within a manhunt killer, a clever and gripping set-up that helps makes Duffy's third outing easily his best so far.
The Sunday Times

Not content with constructing a complex plot, McKinty further wraps his story around a deliciously old-fashioned "locked room" mystery, the solution to which holds the key to Duffy's entire investigation. Driven by McKinty's brand of lyrical, hard-boiled prose, leavened by a fatalistic strain of the blackest humour, In the Morning I'll Be Gone is a hugely satisfying historical thriller.
The Irish Times

[A] superb trilogy reaches its finality...The hunt for [Duffy's quarry] begins and ends spectacularly. McKinty is particularly convincing in painting the political and social backdrops to his plots. He deserves to be treated as one of Britain's top crime writers.
The Times

An action movie view of the Troubles...a fast and thrilling ride from the reliably excellent McKinty.
The Daily Mail

It's a sad day for fans of Adrian McKinty's smart 1980s-set procedurals featuring mordantly charismatic Belfast cop Sean Duffy. Not because his latest, In the Morning I'll Be Gone is any sort of let-down, but because it concludes what has been a hugely enjoyable trilogy. In some ways, Duffy resembles Iain Banks's young male heroes - crass and impetuous, but also wickedly funny and capable of an intense, redeeming empathy.
The Guardian

An older, more sobered Duffy, still unconventional and willing to take chances, but more reflective, more Sherlock Holmes. His growing maturity resultw in fewer bedroom scenes but there is plenty of excitement and suspense elsewhere in this intelligent and gripping yarn.
The Irish Independent

Sardonic Belfast cop Sean Duffy [in] another terrific Troubles-set thriller 4.5/5
The Sun

Product Description


The Cold Cold Ground is a razor sharp thriller set against the backdrop of a country in chaos, told with style, courage and dark-as-night wit. Adrian McKinty channels Dennis Lehane, David Peace and Joseph Wambaugh to create a brilliant novel with its own unique voice (Stuart Neville)

It's undoubtedly McKinty's finest . . . Written with intelligence, insight and wit, McKinty exposes the cancer of corruption at all levels of society at that time. Sean Duffy is a compelling detective, the evocation of 19802 Northern Ireland is breathtaking and the atmosphere authentically menacing. A brilliant piece of work which does for NI what Peace's Red Riding Quartet did for Yorkshire (Brian McGilloway)

McKinty's prose is a master-class in vicious poise . . . Be in no doubt that this novel is a masterpiece: had David Peace, Eoin McNamee and Brian Moore sat down, they would have been very pleased indeed to have written The Cold Cold Ground (Declan Burke)

The Cold Cold Ground is a fearless trip into Northern Ireland in the 1980s: riots, hunger strikes, murders - yet Adrian McKinty tells a very personal story of an ordinary cop trying to hunt down a serial killer' (John McFetridge)

McKinty's The Cold Cold Ground has got onto on my five best books of the year list as it is riveting, brilliant and just about the best book yet on Northern Ireland (Ken Bruen)

The Cold Cold Ground confirms McKinty as a writer of substance... The names of David Peace and Ellroy are evoked too often in relation to young crime writers, but McKinty shares their method of using the past as a template for the present. The stories and textures may belong to a different period, but the power of technique and intent makes of them the here and now... There's food for thought in McKinty's writing... The Cold Cold Ground is a crime novel, fast-paced, intricate and genre to the core. (Eoin McNamee Guardian 2012-01-07)

Adrian McKinty is the voice of the new Northern Irish generation but he's not afraid to examine the past. This writer is a legend in the making and The Cold, Cold Ground is the latest proof of this (Gerard Brennan)

Detective Sergeant Sean Duffy could well become a cult figure... McKinty has not lost his touch or his eye for the bizarre and the macabre, or his ear for the Belfast accent and argot. ...McKinty creates a marvellous sense of time and place... he manages to catch the brooding atmosphere of the 1980s and to tell a ripping yarn at the same time... There will be many readers waiting for the next adventure of the dashing and intrepid Sergeant Duffy. (Maurice Hayes Irish Independent 2012-01-07)

McKinty (has) a razor sharp ear for the local dialogue and a feeling for the bleak time and place that was Ulster in the early Eighties, and pair them with a wry wicked wit... If Raymond Chandler had grown up in Northern Ireland, The Cold Cold Ground is what he would have written. (Peter Millar The Times 2012-01-14)

Adrian McKinty is fast gaining a reputation as the finest of the new generation of Irish crime writers, and it's easy to see why on the evidence of this novel, the first in a projected trilogy of police procedurals.

At times The Cold Cold Ground has the feel of James Ellroy, the prose is that focused and intense, but then there are moments of darkest humour, with just a hint of the retro feel of Life On Mars thrown in.

The complex plotting and acidic dialogue here are the equal of any crime writer around, and the story rattles along at a breakneck pace, but there is also an earthy eloquence to McKinty's prose that raises it above the level of the average police procedural.

(Doug Johnstone Herald 2012-01-21)

Detective SErgeant Sean Duffy could well become a cult figure... McKinty manages to catch the brooding atmosphere of the 1980s and to tell a ripping yarn at the same time' (Maurice Hayes Belfast Telegraph 2012-01-14)

The setting represents an extraordinarily tense scenario in itself, but the fact that Duffy is a Catholic in a predominantly Protestant RUC adds yet another fascinating twist to McKinty's neatly crafted plot... a masterpiece of Troubles crime fiction: had David Peace, Eoin McNamee and Brian Moore sat down to brew up the great Troubles novel, they would have been very pleased indeed to have written The Cold Cold Ground. (Declan Burke Irish Times 2012-02-06)

... an entertaining mix of good police work and desperate action as the young officer careers around Belfast, from one suspect to the next and back again, leaping to wrong conclusions but building his case... The tension makes for outstanding fiction. (Jeff Glorfield Melbourne Age/Sydney Morning Herald 2012-02-04)

Impressive... has a black humour reminiscent of Jacobean drama (John Dugdale Sunday Times 2012-03-04)

A cracking read, hugely entertaining and unrelentingly exciting (Sunday Herald Sun, Australia 2012-03-18)

Sizzles with ambient dread... Your reviewer was born the year The Cold, Cold Ground is set in, and such passages work better at painting a picture than any episode of Reeling In The Years... It's probably safe to say that Irish crime fiction's current purple patch won't be fading any time soon. (Sunday Independent (Ireland) 2012-04-01)

There is enough in McKinty's quirky and surprising style to make further Sean Duffy mysteries a prospect to be relished (Australian Financial Review 2012-03-30)

The Cold Cold Ground marks the emergence of an author who has the potential to become a major figure in the crime arena (Canberra Times, Australia 2012-05-05)

Witty, intelligent and teeming with broad cultural references and dazzling action set-pieces, this novel leaves you hungry for the next book in the triology (West Australian 2012-05-08)

Once again, McKinty proves himself a seriously brilliant novelist, his flair for language matched by his remarkable feel for place, well-known appetite for redemptive violence and seriously cool appreciation of characters who reject conformity. (The Australian 2012-06-02)

Book Description

Spring 1981. Northern Ireland. Hunger strikes. Riots. Power cuts. A serial killer with a penchant for opera. And a young woman's suicide that may yet turn out to be murder. On the surface, the events are unconnected, but then things - and people - aren't always what they seem.

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Sam on 29 Dec. 2011
Format: Paperback
Only having read one Adrian McKinty novel "Fifty Grand" I didn't know what to expect with this one. This book is set in McKinty's home territory of Northern Ireland during the early 1980's, an era I knew almost nothing about. This book is also a police procedural about a police officer on the trail of a homophobic serial killer. There are many unusual aspects to the case but what stands out the electrifying atmosphere of Belfast in middle of chaos, the witty banter between the police officers and the character of Sean Duffy who is a sympathetic and funny central protagonist. As an ordinary Detective Sergeant in the northern Irish police, Duffy is not a superman: he is intelligent and observant but he's believeable. He's not Sherlock Holmes. He makes mistakes, takes wrong turns and is sometimes hotheaded. I've read a lot of books in this genre and I think this is one of the very best ones. The Cold Cold Ground is a great novel and you will not be able to put it down.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Ripple TOP 500 REVIEWER on 26 Dec. 2011
Format: Paperback
"The Cold Cold Ground" is the first of a planned trilogy of police procedural novels featuring Sean Duffy. Set in 1980s Northern Ireland it's a little reminiscent of the TV show "Life on Mars", full of reminders of the music and events of the period that evokes nostalgia in those who lived through it. In all good police procedural novels, the hero has to have a "thing" that sets him apart. With Duffy it is that he is a Catholic in a predominantly Protestant police force. What this means is that no one trusts him on either side of the religious divide. And as this is set during the worst of the "troubles" with hunger strikes and rioting on the streets, not to mention car bombs and other acts of violence, this is a big issue for him.

Duffy has two cases to solve, which may or may not be related. The main one centres on what appears to be a homophobic serial killer at a time when homosexuality was still illegal in Northern Ireland while the second involves the disappearance of a young girl who is the ex-wife of one of the hunger strikers. Both appear to be unrelated both to each other and to the "troubles" but perhaps not. The serial killer story line involves a lot of homophobic language which was rife at the time which some may find offensive by today's more enlightened standards, but McKinty is very good at evoking the period and this is, to my mind, entirely justified.

McKinty is also good at what might be called "locker room banter" within the police force. In fact, dialogue is always one of his strengths. He has a good ear for it and it's often very amusing. Moreover, the author has previous form in writing trilogies with his excellent series featuring the anti-hero, the hitman Michael Forsythe.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Rob Kitchin TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 6 May 2012
Format: Paperback
As an Irish police procedural, The Cold, Cold Ground is right up there with Brian McGilloway's Inspector Devlin and John Brady's Matt Minogue series. In fact, it might just be the best example of a police procedural so far produced on the island. It's pretty difficult to pick holes in any aspect of the story, with perhaps the exception of forgetting to return a submachine gun left on the hall table back to the barracks for two whole weeks (not the kind of item that would escape one's attention). McKinty immerses the reader in Carrickfergus and Belfast in 1981 - its politics, its riots, its policing, its fashions, music and social relations, its sense of place, without it ever swamping the narrative. The attention to detail is excellent. Sean Duffy is a complex, flawed and bright lead character, out of his depth and desperately trying to stay afloat amongst paramilitary groups and police and security service politics, and determined to solve the two cases. He's surrounded by a well realised support cast, some of whom are real figures, other fictional characters. The plot twists and turns and is nicelyy paced, and McKinty shows his usual flair for poetic prose. A great read from an author who consistently turns out interesting and insightful books. The only let down - I have to wait for the next Duffy book to be published.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By O E J TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 12 Feb. 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Against the advice of some reviewers I read the "fourth novel in the trilogy" first, Gun Street Girl, and it was so good that I bought the three that went before straight afterwards. This is where things kicked off for a Catholic cop in a Protestant police force in 1981 Northern Ireland. A cop who is tasked with finding the killer (or killers) of two gay men and one divorced woman - although it's far from clear that the woman's death is connected. The Troubles take front and centre stage at most times, with numerous real-life events and characters (such as the prison hunger strikes and Gerry Adams) woven tightly into the script.

Adrian McKinty is a talented writer, of that there can be little doubt. There are hints in his style of Chandler and Ellroy, but make no mistake: McKinty has an identity very much his own and has a seemingly natural ability to create engaging characters (mainly Sean Duffy) and to inject both pace and pathos into the narrative. One of the many appealing features of the style - and one that is absent from many other works of crime fiction - is a sense that the reader is right there with Duffy in terms of knowledge of what's going on. Sometimes in other tales the reader knows more than the leading character, and in a few cases less, but here there's a story-length touch of reality inasmuch as Duffy is just as baffled as to who killed who and why as the reader is. We're there with him, by his side, and at times it really does feel as if Duffy is telling the story to us; we are the audience surrounding him and we won't know the outcome until he tells us.

The relative simplicity of the tale and the short, sharp prose belies the cleverness beneath it all. The concluding chapters feel slightly rushed, but McKinty improves with age and experience as Gun Street Girl later testifies. Definitely a class act, one of its few weaknesses being a shortgage of humour in the dialogue which is so evident in the most recent novel.
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