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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 18 June 2014
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I have read all three of the Sean Duffy stories to date and they have each been an excellent read. I would say that this one is the best to date which is very encouraging. One thing they are certainly not is the least bit formulaic. I have recently read the latest Lee Child Jack Reacher story and, although good fun, the reader is rather aware that they are reading the same story over and over repackaged. However there is no such repetition in the life of Sean Duffy.

This time round Duffy continues his career habit of offending those in authority and suffers the consequences. His life is in the doldrums until, rather fortuitously he is recruited by MI5 who are in pursuit of a leading IRA figure who went to school with Duffy. Following a sojourn training in Libya, Dermot McCann is now back in Europe and thought to be planning a 'spectacular'. In the course of this investigation Sean becomes involved in a classic 'locked room' cold case mystery which he has to solve if he is to find McCann.

I like Adrian McKinty's style of writing and the Northern Irish setting retains the ring of authenticity which was so evident in the previous books - there are many nice details such as the very accurate description of the well known Crown pub in Belfast. It is certainly not necessary to have read the other books though as this works well as a standalone story. Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would certainly recommend it.
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I'm reading all four Sean Duffy novels back-to-back and loving each one; sadly I read the fourth one first and there are now no more for me in this series but how very, very good they are. In this third one, the writer again mixes high-profile political events of the 1980s with his own appealing fiction. There are traces of James Ellroy in this methodology, because real people have speaking parts - notably the British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. She is very much a central figure in the conclusion of this tale.

Duffy is temporarily promoted into Special Branch and given the task of finding IRA bomb-making expert Dermot McCann who escaped from the Maze Prison in Northern Ireland and is thought to be planning a major terrorist attack. Duffy and McCann go way back to school days when McCann was head boy and Duffy the deputy head; since then they have gone in very different directions but Duffy has always felt that he was living in McCann's shadow. In order to find him he is asked to find the killer of a young woman a few years earlier, but only in return for information about McCann's wherabouts. This murder investigation takes up the bulk of the pages and the conclusion is tense, dynamic and vaguely surreal.

It's hard to fault any aspect of this as a piece of crime fiction because it offers everything : A magnetic leading character, a strong story line and a complete absence of padding. There's something to enjoy on every page. I already know that the next in the series Gun Street Girl: Sean Duffy 4 is even better (actually, the best of the lot) and I really hope there will be more to come in the future. McKinty is simply a very good story-teller.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I thoroughly enjoyed this police thriller. It has its flaws, but not enough to spoil things for me and if anything I thought it was better than its predecessor, I Hear The Sirens In The Street.

Sean Duffy is a Detective Inspector in Northern Ireland in 1984. Or at least he was until insubordination, excessive drinking and so on in the last book caused him to be demoted to sergeant and removed from CID. In this book things get even worse until he's recruited by MI5 to find a terrorist leader with whom he was at school and is back on the force... These are such clichés of the genre that I wouldn't normally bother, but the book is so well written that I didn't mind a bit. Duffy is an engaging if flawed character, he and other are exceptionally convincingly drawn, and the period and place are very well evoked. Dialogue is excellent; it is crisp, believable and pretty accurate for the period (although people do mention "issues" and "closure" which, mercifully, hadn't infested the language by then.)

The plot is beautifully paced and utterly gripping. It has its silly elements, to be honest, including an almost with-a-single-bound-he-was-free Bulldog Drummond-esque escape and dash to prevent National Catastrophe, but I was quite happy to go along with it and stayed up far too late to finish the book. It's an exciting, deceptively well-researched and erudite read, and a very good portrait of a turbulent time and place. Recommended.
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on 2 May 2016
I love all the McKinty/Sean Duffy books. I read one and immediately bought the rest and read them all straight off, one after the other. Only problem was I finished too quickly. I really liked the getting to know Northern Ireland in the Troubles. It seemed like a good understanding of it all, though of course I cannot judge the accuracy, but it convinced me. I liked the jokes and the crossword puzzles and the literary references, and I liked the stories and the main characters. Altogether a winning performance.
I am not writing this out for all the books, but it applies to them all.
I am just about to start on the Dead series. I hope it will be as good.
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In The Morning is a lurid, over the top police procedural set in 1980s Northern Ireland. Our hero, Sean Duffy, has been busted down to sergeant and has been posted to the South Armagh border due to past indiscretions Sean is not happy, despite the helicopter rides.

In a roundabout way - and without giving too much away - Sean Duffy finds himself given one last chance to prove himself. He is put on a mission to find a missing man. This gets him out of Armagh and back knocking on doors of Derry Housing Executive flats and making furtive trips across to Donegal. So far so good. But then Duffy gets involved in investigating a coid case murder of young woman who had been minding a bar on the shores of Lough Neagh near Antrim. Things go a bit Jonathan Creek as Duffy wrestles with a locked room mystery. To be honest, it all feels a bit improbable, and the relation of this plot-ette to the main story is contrived. But it is also a bit of fun.

The main manhunt, once we get back to it, seems to be stuck on with sellotape. But despite the far-from-seamless join, the denouement is well done. There is an OMG moment when you realise the main historical event it is all leading up to, and Adrian McKinty has a nice touch in blending subsequent reality with some personal speculation. These end scenes rescue what would have been a fairly poor novel and redeem it int a fairly good novel.

I still don't believe in Sean Duffy. He doesn't act or think like a policeman. His living arrangements, walking up his front driveway on a loyalist housing estate in riot gear is just not the way things were. Buying dope off the crime squad ditto. And I know Adrian McKinty will read this and say 'but I created this fiction and if I want to have policeman walking up their driveways in riot gear I can', but when you trade on verisimilitude, it just punches a bit of a hole in the suspension of disbelief.

Adrian McKinty is worth reading. He tells a good story and his style is engaging. However, I do wonder whether he could sometime do something slightly less lurid.
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VINE VOICEon 15 February 2014
1984. Sean Duffy is a Catholic officer in the RUC, hated by both sides of the sectarian divide, living in the middle of a protestant housing estate. His career's been wobbly lately and by the start of this book, Internal Affairs are keen to get rid of him once and for all. But a mass escape from the Maze Prison, led by an old schoolfriend of Duffy's, makes MI5 come knocking on his door and soon Sean, with his rank restored, finds himself involved in one of the most audacious terrorist crimes ever committed on English soil.

Nothing is ever simple with Duffy, though. The route to his old schoolfriend lies via a locked-room mystery as fine as any invented although, as Sean points out, the reason magicians keep their secrets so well is that people would be disappointed by how banal they turn out to be. And he knows better than anyone that Ulster justice is often rough justice.

If I have one cavil with this excellent novel, it’s that I’ve always admired the way McKinty immersed himself in the early 80s, not blurring it with winking hindsight. That suddenly disappears at the end of this novel as Sean reflects that Thatcher will die in a hotel, just not this one, and an MI5 officer gives a remarkably prescient rundown of what is likely to happen in Northern Ireland over the next thirty years.

Is this the last Sean Duffy novel? It’s been billed as trilogy, but McKinty wouldn’t be the first to break that when it suits him. I feel that there's still plenty of mileage in the character.
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on 24 October 2015
I have just finished this book, which means that I have read the first three books of this series in around one week. I love the series and the characters. This is the strongest of the three books, with the focus of the plot switching between a whodunnit element and a related undercover agent element. This book is a lot bleaker than the previous two books, and a real strength of this series is its ability to accurately reflect the steely grey misery of Northern Ireland during this period while still keeping the reader hooked. I love the gallows humour and authentic characters. I'm moving straight on to the next book in the series after which I'll have to wait a few months until the fifth book is published.
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on 12 March 2014
All the books in this trilogy are brilliantly and thoughtfully written, with a convincing
sense of history and genuine feeling for the plot and characters. The flaw in two of them is the implausible and essentially unexplained escape by the hero from his near-terminal predicaments. Still, have fun reading.
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on 3 April 2014
I hadn't been long in London when Margaret Thatcher came to power, and every single day brought bewildering news from Ireland about 'Troubles' that had a nasty habit of spilling - apparently indiscriminately - into the streets of England. It was all a lie and a fit up - there was a civil war going on, we just weren't supposed to know.

McKinty resuscitates this time from the viewpoint of those in Northern Ireland itself - recreating and explaining that ferocious, chaotic time and place so vividly that one can see, taste and smell every location and event. But this is no travelogue - it's a tour de force of action, plot and character seething with feeling and written from the POV of its witty, flawed hero - a smart and nervy Catholic who, bucking every home-grown cliche, has become a detective in the notoriously Protestant RUC.

This would provide interest enough in any decent cop procedural or thriller... but the writing grabs me too. McKinty's use of dialect and language is peerless. Dialogue, wry observation and local idiom cause each sentence by turns to seduce you or leap at you, off the page.

These books are a delight for any reader with a love for the possibilities and rhythms of language. McKinty owns the language like few others writing today and despite my generally throw-away attitude towards this genre I know I'll be reading them again.
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on 13 October 2015
I've now read a trilogy of Adrian McKinty's books and the stories kept me interested but I found myself frustrated by the political views he continued to show.
He clearly has a greater sympathy for the IRA than the British government
He also, to his credit, talks about the futility of religious division and his writing is pretty good.
One other negative point is some of his use of today's PC world back in the 70's and 80's nobody, particularly drug taking inept police officers, would have had such sensitive thoughts.
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