“The Troubles Trilogy” by Adrian McKinty, the detective series set in Northern Ireland during the early 80’s featuring RUC Inspector Sean Duffy, comes to a close with In the Morning I’ll Be Gone, and you better believe the Nerd is in mourning. McKinty has long been one of crime’s strongest voices and this is his most ambitious project to date, with Morning being a particularly strong finish, but goddamn am I gonna miss Duffy. If you’re not similarly saddened, let me hip you to what this shit is all about.
The beginning of the novel finds Duffy being pushed off the force for some trumped up bullshit, the higher-ups who’ve long hated him finally finding an excuse to axe him and taking it. After stumbling around stoned and drunk for awhile, Duffy gets called upon by MI5 to look for an IRA operative he went to school with who has escaped from the Maze and is planning a major terrorist attack. Should Duffy be successful he’ll get his old job back no questions asked. Duffy does his best but Dermot McCann is too smart to tip his hand, all his friends and relatives too distrusting of the police (especially a traitorous Catholic cop like Duffy) to give him an inch.
All except for the McCann’s ex-mother-in-law, that is. If Duffy can solve the “locked room mystery” of the murder of her other daughter, she’ll tell Duffy where he can find McCann. But after looking at the files, Duffy finds that it may not even be a murder at all, leaving Duffy with two seemingly impossible cases ahead of him and the ticking clock of an eminent terrorist task hanging over his head.
There is a lot going on in In The Morning I’ll Be Gone. McKinty is once again expertly and assuredly bringing us into this bleak time in recent history, making us feel the paranoia and despair on every page. He’s also paying a weird homage to the way back days of crime fiction with the locked room case at the novel’s center, reminding us of Agatha Christie novels while still somehow making the mystery work in this very gritty, grounded series. “He’s also blistering us with punishing, jaded real world politics and social commentary while still managing to entertain us with classic cop book tropes throughout the ride. Basically, this book informs, challenges and fucks with the reader’s head while delivering a fun read throughout.
So grab a pint of the black and maybe a spot of Jame-o (I’m embarrassing myself right now with my “Oirish” references but they’re being written down all the same) then crack open In the Morning I’ll Be Gone. The next day you’ll be thankful for the read if not necessarily the hangover.