The sixth of the excellent Detective Inspector Sean Duffy series of crime novels set in Northern Ireland during the Troubles. Although not the best of the books, it’s good and keeps up the generally high standard. (Search on this site for Adrian McKinty to see my posts about the other books in the series.)
This time around, Duffy is dealing with the case of a murder by crossbow. A strange occurrence in a land awash with guns and shooters. And a troubling case whose retelling starts with masked gunmen leading Duffy in to the woods to dig his own grave.
Before that, in addition to trying to find the killer, Duffy has to deal with some major personal issues in his life, police station politics, and close attention from Internal Affairs.
Gritty, realistic, and engrossing, this tale does an excellent job of transporting the reader back to the late 1980s and offering some astute observations on the world as it was.
The only blot is that Duffy is the one fully rounded character. There are occasional sparks of life in his police colleagues, McCrabban and Lawson, but not much else. Duffy is strong enough to carry the book on his own, but this is a focused first person narrative with no respite. It wasn’t a problem for me, but I have heard other readers criticize such books, in my opinion unfairly, for not having a broader reach. To my mind, the humor, the tension, and the infusions of literary and musical points of reference, are more than enough to avoid any suggestion of a one dimensional character or world.
No, this is – to coin a phrase – the full monty, and very highly recommended.
Incidentally, the title is from a Tom Waits song: