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The Cold Cold Ground: Sean Duffy 1 (Detective Sean Duffy 1) [Paperback]

Adrian McKinty
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (99 customer reviews)

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Book Description

5 Jan 2012 Detective Sean Duffy 1
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.Fast-paced, evocative and brutal, The Cold, Cold Ground is a brilliant depiction of Belfast at the height of the Troubles - and a cop treading a thin, thin line.

Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Serpent's Tail (5 Jan 2012)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 1846688221
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846688225
  • Product Dimensions: 15.9 x 23.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (99 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 370,618 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 crime novel, Dead I Well May Be, was shortlisted for the 2004 Steel Dagger Award. My first Sean Duffy novel, The Cold Cold Ground, won the 2013 Spinetingler Award. The second, I Hear The Sirens In The Street, was shortlisted for the Ned Kelly Award.

Here's a supercut of reviews in the British/Irish press for Duffy#3, In The Morning I'll Be Gone, (I've removed major 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


'A razor-sharp thriller set against the backdrop of a country in chaos, told with style, courage and dark-as-night wit . . . Brilliant' --Stuart Neville

'Undoubtedly McKinty's finest novel, written with intelligence, insight and wit ... It does for NI what David Peace 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' --Declan Burke

'A fearless trip into 1980s NI - yet McKinty tells a very personal story of an ordinary cop trying to hunt down a serial killer' --John McFetridge

'This writer is a legend in the making and The Cold, Cold Ground is the latest proof of this' --Gerard Brennan

`The Cold Cold Ground is a crime novel, fast-paced, intricate and genre to the core.' --Guardian

'If Raymond Chandler had grown up in Northern Ireland, The Cold Cold Ground is what he would have written' --The Times

'Detective Sergeant Sean Duffy could well become a cult figure...' --Irish Independent

'Adrian McKinty is fast gaining a reputation as the finest of the new generation of Irish crime writers' --Glasgow Herald

'A masterpiece of Troubles crime fiction' --Irish Times

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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant novel about The Troubles 29 Dec 2011
By Sam
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
1.0 out of 5 stars Sloppy Writing 25 Feb 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Perhaps it's because I come from Belfast and know the area that makes me think this is just sloppy writing. The author can't be bothered to spell place names correctly or get his geography right.
Aside from that he totally stereotypes both sides. He also writes about barefoot children in the 1980s! The plot is full of coincidences and improbable happenings. Lazy lazy writing.
Don't waste your time or money on it. I am amazed that he is being paid to write more.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable Northern Irish novel 1 April 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I enjoyed The Cold Cold Ground. It was a thrilling read and I couldn't put it down. I stumbled across it on the Amazon Daily deal for 1 on the Kindle, so it was also great value for money! In hindsight I would have been prepared to pay normal retail value for it so, overall, it must have been a good read.

The Cold Cold ground is a police procedural novel set in the early 80's in Carrickfergus, a suburb of Belfast, against the backdrop of The Troubles. The novel is the first of a trilogy based around the career of Detective Sean Duffy.

Duffy is a young Catholic Detective living and working in a Protestant town and is a member of a predominantly Protestant workforce. Our somewhat unusual protagonist is tasked with solving a bizarre series of murders; a serial killer (a rare beast in Nothern Ireland) is on the loose and terrorising the gay community. Duffy and his colleagues need to find that murderer before he kills again. Meanwhile, what has become of Lucy Moore?

The author has taken great pains to make Sean Duffy seem normal, human, believable. He makes mistakes, he gets drunk, he chases women when he should be on the job, he listens to a lot of great music, he has a soft spot for his flashy BMW. Despite his flaws, he ventures into the abyss time and time again to search for the truth behind the bizarre murders.

McKinty has done a really great job of capturing the claustrophobia, paranoia, tension and fear which pervaded the streets of Belfast at the time. The hunger strikers frequently make an appearance in the novel as do full-scale riots, bombs, roadblocks, burning vehicles, moustachioed Protestant terrorists and rhetoric-spouting Republicans. Local expressions are sprinkled nicely through the novel, but not in an overpowering way.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars First of N Irish police procedural trilogy 26 Dec 2011
By Ripple TOP 100 REVIEWER
"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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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tough, Gutsy Novel from a Tough, Gutsy Writer 27 Dec 2011
Quick -- think of your favorite crime novels set during 1980s Ireland. If you're like me, you had trouble coming up with even a handful. For whatever reason, writers seem to shy away from this touchy period in Irish history. Adrian McKinty -- never one to duck touchy subjects (see FALLING GLASS) -- sets his latest right in the heart of the troubles and, in doing so, gives his readers a look into a time and a place rarely available outside the history books. And as is typically the case in McKinty's novels, the setting itself is one of the best characters in the book.

I won't bore you with a rehash of the plot -- you can get that above -- but the gist is that a Catholic cop in Protestand Northern Ireland is tasked with investigating both a possible serial killer targeting homosexuals and a possible suicide by a hunger-striker's ex-wife. As plots go, this one is unique and, as you'd expect, McKinty keeps the action moving. It's brutal and hardboiled, exciting and entertaining. Based on his other books, you'd expect no less.

That said, fast-moving plots are a dime a dozen. As are "police procedurals." If you're looking for your typical "whodunit" and "howdtheycatchem," this isn't it. Calling this book a "police procedural" is like calling Ken Bruen's books "mysteries" or James Crumley's books "PI novels." To pigeonhole this book, as with the books of those other authors, is to miss what sets this book apart -- namely, the fantastic writing and the characters involved. This is a book you'll feel drawn to -- you'll be thinking about it during your day at work, hope to cram down few chapters during lunch and look forward to getting home so you can dive back in.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Good read.
Excellent book with strong characters. A real page turner.Duffy is my kind of policeman - tough, and a bit disrespectful of authority.
Published 4 days ago by robert
3.0 out of 5 stars A book of two halves..........,
or, more accurately, a book of two-thirds and one-third.

I thoroughly enjoyed this glimpse of Belfast during "The Troubles" with a police-procedural theme. Read more
Published 12 days ago by SteveN
5.0 out of 5 stars Evocative of the period
Kept me engaged until the last page. I shall move on to the next one soon. I liked the character of Sean Duffy.
Published 1 month ago by Mrs Susan Shillabeer
2.0 out of 5 stars Adrian McKinty
This was my first read of Adrian McKinty and I am sorry but it will be my last.
I couldn't get into it at all.
Published 1 month ago by Fred Allcock
4.0 out of 5 stars A Catholic cop investigating a serial killer during the hunger strikes
A well written crime novel. Set during the hunger strikes in northern Ireland. At first I thought Duffy didn't have a clue what he was doing but the story kept me hooked with a... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Cathy Murphy
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Period Thriller
If you re familiar with McKinty's work, you ll know what to expect. Good plotting, dark humour and a healthy amount of cynicism. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Liam Hassan
4.0 out of 5 stars Grew on me
This book grew on me. I bought is as a deal of the day and thought I might regret it as I got involved in the different factions and acronyms associated with them. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Sally Taylor
4.0 out of 5 stars good read
Good story set in a time of chaos, with interesting insight into troubled times & issues within our own lifetime & on our own doorstep
Published 1 month ago by Karen Croan
3.0 out of 5 stars Reasonably exciting
As a N Ireland resident it was irritating to find places misnamed( deliberate?) e.g. Belfast Crematorium is ROSELAWN not Rosewood. Read more
Published 2 months ago by William M Campbell
5.0 out of 5 stars Awful
Takes me back to my youth and reminds me how I miss people speaking 'proper'. I don't know why I have to write more so there.
Published 2 months ago by Portauthority
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