McKinty, Adrian - 'I Hear the Sirens in the Street'
I HEAR THE SIRENS IN THE STREET is the second in the Sean Duffy trilogy set in and around Carrickfergus in County Antrim, Northern Ireland.
It is 1982 and Sean Duffy is back at work in CID at Carrickfergus Police station after the events of the previous book, THE COLD COLD GROUND, with a promotion to Detective Inspector and a Queen's Police Medal. The usual background of the troubles at its height continues when Duffy and DC McCrabban get called to an abandoned factory to investigate a blood trail spotted by the night watchman. They search through the skips and find a suitcase with a headless torso cut off at the knees and shoulders. This turns out to the body of an American poisoned by Abrin (derived from the Rosary Pea) and then frozen - Duffy gets more suspicious when he finds that the suitcase belonged to a part-time UDR soldier from Islandmagee who had been killed by the IRA on his farm (suspicious in itself as Islandmagee is a very, very Protestant area - still less than 1% Roman Catholic today - and has very few routes out) and that the American turns out to be a former IRS official with links to the US Secret Service. There are many twists and turns involving Northern Irish politics, John DeLorean and the interface between rural and urban Northern Ireland.
I had THE COLD COLD GROUND as one of my "almost there" books for my top 5 in 2012 and I feel that I HEAR THE SIRENS IN THE STREET is just as assured a police procedural and the issue that really bothered me of Duffy not being penalised for his hot-headedness does not recur here - it just seems a tad more serious and the writing is more self-assured than in the first book. There are still some issues with how realistic the milieu really was but the gallows humour of the time, which some have criticised as fantasy, is very realistic.
I would strongly recommend I HEAR THE SIRENS IN THE STREET but you should really start with THE COLD COLD GROUND and accept that things are going to get better.
The final one, AND IN THE MORNING I'LL BE GONE, is due in January 2014 - it is pre-ordered.
Mark Bailey, Northern Ireland