My rating: 4 of 5 stars
so have you been reading this trilogy? cause like if not, the hell with this blog, go read the books (#1 is The Cold, Cold Ground; #2 is I Hear the Sirens in the Street).
i picked up the first two at the Santa Cruz Bookshop–they had it in a display tagged “Read this Before Your Friends All Do!” or something to that effect. anyway, not having had much previous interest in Ireland during The Troubles or otherwise, i was not immediately convinced. but i proved biddable enough, cause i bought them anyway.
soooooooo glad i did.
the books are murder mysteries, starring Detective Inspector Sean Duffy. you just can’t imagine this guy in a suit, you know? much easier to imagine him at a concert, possibly half-stoned, contemplating some esoteric bit of philosophy with one part of his mind while the other part dissects the music. not a real button-down type, our Sean.
the first book was rather disarmingly funny at times, Sean being something of a smartass. the second was more serious in tone, while the plot got more outlandish. the third is really the culmination of a lot of questions the series raises: why would someone who has other options stay in a falling-apart world? and who is really pulling the strings?
although this is not its purpose, the series as a whole is a really frightening description of what happens when a post-industrial society slides toward civil war. McKinty’s descriptions of the physical cityscapes are keenly observed and delivered deadpan, which is in a way more horrible: the denizens who are trying to just keep their heads down and raise families, etc. really have no choice but to accept that this is just how things are while the titans rage around them.
the titans themselves are genuinely scary, and not just the “terrorists” (i have a hard time not putting that word in quotes anymore… one person’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter, and i’m not omniscient enough to sort them out). the IRA, the UVF and UDA, a veritable alphabet soup of factions, in opposition to or collusion with the cops, Special Branch, MI5, plus lord knows what other groups flew in under the radar… all fighting it out for control and eventual supremacy. i wonder how a non-titanic person could have stayed out of the way and not been squashed like a bug.
the only complaint i have against McKinty’s tales is the women–i almost begin to feel like a broken record here–the women often feel like they’re just there for the guys to score with, score points off, blah blah blah. you know the drill. it’s a pity to mar such a wonderful series with such shallow depictions of women. even the last book, which starts off by saying that it is going to be all about the women, doesn’t quite pull it off: our murder victim is a cipher, many of the women are just sexy lamps,* and even the exceedingly powerful women get busy cooking Sean breakfast. sigh.
still, the good outweighs the bad by a longshot in this series. oh, by the way, for an extra thrill, listen to the audiobooks.
* sexy lamp test: fail, if you can replace the female characters in your story with sexy lamps and the plot still functions