Sean Duffy is a young Catholic detective in the midst of the predominately Protestant Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) where he is part of a team trying to stop a serial killer targeting gay men. It's the spring of 1981 near Belfast, riots are common, and homosexuality is illegal in Ireland. It's also during the height of the "Troubles" and hunger strikes are increasing, especially after the death of Bobby Sands a week before this story begins.
Duffy recently purchased a house in an estate area not too far from work. He found it didnít take long for his neighbors to realize he was a Catholic living among a tight-knit group in a Protestant town. While he felt fairly safe among them, he did check whether or not there was a bomb under his car every time he went out.
For the most part they left him alone, although occasionally there were problems. He also had a problem of another sort when a young, good-looking neighbor took a liking to him, especially when her husband was away.
Duffy mainly worked with Detective Constable McCrabban and Sargent McCallister, and Matty McBride, the forensics officer. His boss was Chief Inspector Brennan, a tough man who had long experience in the field. He also became close to the female pathologist who was conducting the autopsies.
They were looking into the murder of someone whose torso was found, but no other body parts except a severed hand was with the torso. During the investigation they found the hand did not belong to the victim. When a second victim was found along with a severed hand not his own, the investigation went into overdrive.
The Cold Cold Ground is the first novel in a trilogy written by best-selling author Adrian McKinty. The author was raised on Coronation Road in Carrickfergus and set his story in the same location and approximate time that he grew up, in essence, returning home.
The novel is a fast-paced brutal look at a tragic time in Northern Irelandís history. The detailed police procedural uses sharp dialogue and plenty of action to move the story forward. This first in the series introduces the main characters and sets the tone for the rest of the novels. The last couple of chapters was unexpected yet riveting and furthered a desire to read more about Detective Sergeant Duffy and the rest of the team.
A special thank you goes to Seventh Street Books for providing us with a complimentary copy of The Cold Cold Ground for our review. If you are interested in any of Adrian McKintyís books, they are available at Amazon.com.