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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 (105 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: English
  • 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 (105 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 415,456 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 Sean Duffy novel, I Hear The Sirens In The Street, was shortlisted for the 2013 Ned Kelly Award, the 2014 Barry Award & was longlisted for the 2014 Theakston Best British Crime Novel Award. In The Morning I'll Be Gone (Sean Duffy #3) was picked as one of the top 10 crime novels of 2014 by 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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
31 of 33 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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5 of 5 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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tremendous sense of place 4 Jun 2014
By Julia Flyte TOP 50 REVIEWER
This is the first book in the "Troubles" trilogy, about a Catholic policeman in Belfast, Northern Ireland, in 1981. Detective Sergeant Sean Duffy is world weary and jaded, reminiscent of Bernie Gunther in Philip Kerr's excellent books. He is investigating two deaths that appear to be the work of a serial killer and also one death that appears to be a straightforward suicide. His investigations - complicated by the frequent violence taking place around him - will lead him into the crosshairs of both Sinn Fein and the Protestant ULP.

The best crime novels do more than just present an intriguing mystery. They give you a pleasingly complex lead character and they evoke a palpable sense of place. Recent reads such as The Cuckoo's Calling, Bitter Wash Road and Dogstar Rising do that extremely well, and this is as good as any of them. The author also weaves some real life events and people into the story which apparently invoked the ire of Sinn Fein's lawyers but which adds a feeling of realism to the story. The eventual denouement is somewhat over the top, but this is still a great read and I look forward to instalments #2 and #3, which are now available.
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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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars A lot of inaccuracies but still an entertaining read.
It is quite clear to me that Adrian McKinty did not speak to any RUC, Army or Prison Staff who served in Northern Ireland during the early 1980s. Read more
Published 3 days ago by S Wilson
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
Very badly researched. I know its fiction but the settings and background to the story us way off.
Published 17 days ago by roberta carse
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
If there’s a book that might kick start my reading this year which has been laboured at best, this could well be the one. Smart, funny, interesting, compelling. Read more
Published 2 months ago by col2910
4.0 out of 5 stars 1st in the trilogy
The story-line has been well-covered by other reviewers, but this novel adds a layer to a conventional crime thriller by weaving in to the plot actual events and characters, the... Read more
Published 2 months ago by DeiryMe
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining read
I also grew up in NI at the same time as the author and enjoyed this story as a bit of escapism more than a realistic account. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Una McTernan
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 3 months 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 3 months 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 4 months 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 4 months 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 4 months ago by Cathy Murphy
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