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15 January 2015

Andrew McKinty: Gun Street Girl: Sean Duffy 4

More big "Troubles" for Sean Duffy
Adrian McKinty's has written another in his splendid fictional representations of  "The Troubles" in Northern Island in the 1980's through the eyes of Detective Inspector Sean Duffy, a Catholic policeman in the predominantly Protestant Royal Ulster Constabulary.

While Duffy is a first class detective his character is flawed by what is happening around him. He checks every morning to make sure that there is no bomb underneath his car. When, all too frequently, riots break out he quits his detective work, dons a bullet-proof jacket, helmet and face-shield and goes out in an armoured Land Rover to face the riot, dodging bricks and petrol bombs thrown by both sides in the conflict. All of this takes a toll and Duffy is so stressed out at the end of the day that he needs a pint or two of vodka gimlet to make him relaxed enough to get a good night's sleep.

Duffy takes on a case where a wealthy couple are shot dead and then their son, who may have killed them, apparently commits suicide by jumping off a cliff. Duffy is not convinced by that scenario and takes a close look the son's life and relations with his parents and people associated with the son. He finds that the son had a keen interest in guns in College and had made many contacts in the gun industry. Slowly, through diligent police work, Duffy finds himself embroiled in a case of lost missiles systems, a shady American with powerful connections and a dangerous member of the Ulster Freedom Fighters.

There is a brief episode when Sean meets up again with enigmatic, beautiful, powerful and super-intelligent Kate Albright, the MI5 head of station in Belfast who he had helped to track down IRA bombers during IN THE MORNING I'LL BE GONE. Kate still wants to recruit Duffy but puts this on hold until he closes his current case. The book title relates to Kate's home in Gun Street on the mainland, where Kate and Sean have their closest personal encounter.

On its own this is a great police procedural, but combined with the background of "The Troubles" and actual events the book is a masterly historical action fiction thriller. Knowing that McKinty bases his plots around actual events I was looking for a connection to major historical events at that time. I couldn't work out what they were going to be and they really surprised me when they became evident. The final event was traumatic and will have a big impact on any further books that Mckinty may write in this series.

When McKinty started this series it was billed as a trilogy but I understand that his fans persuaded him to write another one. I am so pleased that he did as it adds some more perspective to "The Troubles" and showcases an author at the top of his form. This book is already in my list of top reads for 2015.

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