Great news, Adrian McKinty fans. The second Sean Duffy is out (on sale May 14th), and it is very good. I read it as soon as I could get a copy, and like The Cold, Cold Ground, this one held me in its spell until the very end. I hate underlining in books, but the understated humor in here had me marking sections to reread after I'd finished it.
The author grew up in Northern Ireland and lived there during the Troubles, but he is widely traveled, widely educated, and widely read. Although this novel is a police procedural with lots of witty dialogue, McKinty also gives us a narrative voice which synthesizes his worldly intellectual depth.
Protagonist Sean Duffy is a rather secular Catholic policeman who determinedly seeks justice, a maverick in the old sense of that much abused term, existentially threading his way toward the truth among different bureaucracies with inherent vice in their entirely different agendas. Institutional bigotry all around.
And, as anyone who has ever worked for a bureaucracy knows, you often have to circumvent the rules of the very bureaucracy you work for in order to get anything done. And so Duffy does, sometimes against his own best material interests, in order to do his job while maintaining his integrity and his sense of decency.
The crimes in this stellar novel occur during the regime of Margaret Thatcher and put the violence of that era in perspective. Many Americans, fuzzy on the history of Northern Ireland, can now easily identify with those who recoiled against such historical terrorism. Nobody loves Big Brother, but the mongering of fear by the killing of innocents in protest was and will always be wrong.
McKinty's humor is sometimes light comic-relief, but more often it is dark and straight-faced absurdist, reminding me of Tom Robbins in this regard. For instance:
turned off the Shore Road onto the Ballyharry Road. A bump chewed the New Order
tape so I flipped through the radio stations. All the English ones were talking
about the Falklands but Irish radio wasn't interested in Britain's colonial wars
and instead were interviewing a woman who had seen an apparition of the Virgin
Mary who had told her that the sale of contraceptive devices in Dublin would
bring a terrible vengeance from God and his host of Angels."
This author's entertaining blog is one I check often, and his books are frequently mentioned here on my own bookblog, Little Known Gems. I suppose I should mention that I have never met the man, nor do I have any kind of a financial connection with his publishers. I simply discovered his books one day and, while awaiting his next gem, have been reading my way through his significant backlist of novels.
Adrian McKinty has yet to break out in these United States, but I look for that to happen any day now.