Adrian McKinty’s Sean Duffy trilogy is shaping up to be a police procedural series for the fucking ages, dear reader. After last year’s ridiculously assured The Cold, Cold Ground we now get the even darker and more gripping I Hear Sirens in the Street and the Nerd for one can’t wait to get his greazy mitts on whatever-the-hell the next one’s called.
Our story begins in April of ’82 in Carrickfergus, NI, a few miles outside of Belfast where the Troubles are raging something fierce. With much of the British military sent out of the country to go gentle down the rebellion in the faraway Falklands, Inspector Sean Duffy’s already tough gig as a Catholic cop in the hated (and predominantly Protestant) RUC has gotten a whole lot more dangerous. When he’s not assisting the street cops as they direct traffic following the latest round of IRA bombings or dodging the bottles of piss (if not flaming gasoline) raining down on him from tenant windows, he works tirelessly on his latest case.
The torso of an American has been found in a suitcase and nobody, from the FBI to British Intelligence and even his own Chief, seems to want him to close the case. But despite the many roadblocks in his way, Duffy doesn’t give up (his girlfriend’s just legged it to Ireland proper – what else is he gonna do?). And when the trail eventually leads to the widow of a man who was killed by the IRA and her down-on-his-luck “baronet” brother-in-law, the already large target on Duffy’s back gets a whole lot fucking bigger.
Narrated by Duffy with loads of black humor and fascinating details of life during a particularly dark time in Northern Ireland’s pretty-fucking-dark-to-begin-with history, I Hear Sirens in the Street kicks the shit out of most “mysteries” you’re likely to read all decade. McKinty masterfully hits all the appropriate beats of the genre in an intelligent and reader-respecting way while also subtly subverting said tropes at times as well, giving you the thrills n’ chills you deserve but fucking with your expectations in exciting ways to boot. And after the kick-ass climax (few outside of Charlie Huston have McKinty’s touch at writing gripping and clear – but never overly descriptive and boring – action and suspense scenes) comes a downbeat denouement that left the Nerd emotionally scarred and dying to see where else this series takes me before its conclusion.