THE COLD COLD GROUND
McKinty kicks off a trilogy with this 1981 Belfast-set tale that provides a fascinating look at everyday life in Northern Ireland during “the Troubles.” The protagonist is clever and funny, the interaction of the police and various factions is eye-opening and the mystery is intriguing, with an unexpected twist at the end.
Sean Duffy is a detective — and a Catholic, a rare combination in Ulster in the early 1980s. He’s tasked with finding a serial killer who is apparently targeting gay men, and one of the victims is from the upper echelons of the IRA. Duffy must also contend with prejudice against him, daily bombings and riots, and colleagues and superiors who doubt his conclusions when he tries to tie an old missing-persons case to the homosexual deaths. Unable to unravel the truth, and removed from the case, Duffy takes matters into his own hands and comes up with some shocking revelations. (SEVENTH STREET, Nov., 325 pp., $15.95)