Detective Sean Duffy is a well-established character, with the Troubles in Northern Ireland the background for his efforts. This novel takes place in 1985 and ostensibly begins as a murder inquiry and evolves into a wider case involving gun smuggling. Duffy, a Catholic in Protestant Belfast, is akin to all the iconic protagonists much beloved by mystery readers: irreverent, intuitive and dogged.
The investigation into the double murder of a young man’s parents, followed by his apparent suicide, keeps Duffy and his team plowing ahead, until further murders confirm a deeper conspiracy abounds. This gives the author the opportunity to introduce a wider perspective including possible international intrigue, gun runners, both Catholic and Protestant paramilitary organizations, the British government, MI-5, and Special Branch. Duffy comes up with probable theories, but lacks confirming evidence. All he wants to do is solve the murders, but to do so he has to take on the more complicated arms deal which seems to be the root cause of the murders.
The novel is a first-rate crime story, well-written and -plotted. Duffy is an appealing character suffering in a country that is undergoing deeper misery. He first appeared in a trilogy and is likely to entertain us in the future. And that’s a good thing.