Summary : An outstanding crime novel set in Northern Ireland during the Troubles.
It’s the early 1980’s in Northern Ireland, and “the Troubles” are going strong. Sean Duffy has been reduced in rank and then thrown off the police force. There had been a car accident, for which he wasn’t responsible, and instances of insubordination, for which he was.
Duffy may be a “peeler” (Irish slang for police), but he wasn’t always on the path to becoming a cop. He was working on a PhD when Bloody Sunday occurred, and he even had tried to volunteer for the IRA. His old schoolmate Dermot McCann turned him down, however.
McCann rose in the ranks of the IRA and eventually got caught. Sean joined the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) and became a detective, one of the few Catholics on the force. As In the Morning I’ll Be Gone opens, Dermot has recently broken out of prison, and MI5 has come knocking on Sean’s door, hoping he can track down his old school chum. Sean takes the job hoping to restore his standing with the RUC and finds he must solve a cold murder case before he can make any headway.
Sean is sought-out by MI5 not only because of his connection to McCann but also because he’s a very good detective, if a bit impetuous and given to doing things his own way. Most of all, he knows how Northern Ireland works and how to work it.
Some of the same can be said for author Adrian McKinty. He has set his story in Carrickfergus, Northern Ireland, where he grew up, and In the Morning I’ll Be Gone rings with authenticity. McKinty’s writing is strong and atmospheric; he easily channels the mean streets of his youth.
What’s more, none of McKinty’s characters are dull or uneducated. Duffy is partial to both the classical music and classic rock, knows his philosophy, and is darkly witty. As he and his police colleagues consider the unsolved murder, which presents a classic locked-room mystery, they discuss many of the locked-room cases found in literature. And McKinty does a fine job of disguising how the murder was pulled off even as he plants the seeds that solve it.
I have not read the first two books in this series (The Troubles Trilogy), but I was able to thoroughly enjoy it anyway. I kept thinking, “This is terrific! Why haven’t I heard of Adrian McKinty before?” Any reader who likes Tana French’s take on murder investigations in Ireland should also be reading McKinty. His work is denser but totally worth the effort.
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