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This police procedural/thriller is based in 1980s Northern Ireland during the Troubles. When a torso is found in a suitcase, Detective Inspector Sean Duffy has to identify the victim before he can start to work out why he was murdered. The storyline allows the author to look at the divides in NI society and also at US attitudes to the Irish question. The author writes flowingly and the plot is interesting and complicated enough to keep the reader’s interest, though I found it dipped a bit in the middle. Duffy and his colleagues Crabbie and Matty are on the whole likeable characters and their interactions allow for a fair amount of humour amongst the more serious stuff. The book is undoubtedly a page-turner.
However, right from the point at the very beginning where Duffy decides to overlook a security guard firing a shotgun at him because the guard ‘was an old geezer with watery eyes’, I found that the book had serious credibility issues that made it hard for me to believe in these characters or to be convinced that this was an accurate portrayal of NI and the Royal Ulster Constabulary of the time. Duffy is a Catholic working in the mainly Protestant RUC and living in a Protestant community – by choice, apparently. He spends half his time with his .38 stuffed in his belt as if he is in the Wild West rather than the police force. Sometimes he’s preaching about the need for constant caution, such as checking for car bombs each time he gets into a car; then at other times he’s taking ridiculous and unnecessary risks for no reason that I could see except to let the author move the story along. Then, of course, there are the women – he sees every woman he meets as a potential sex object and that’s about as far as their characterisation goes.
A difficult one to rate since, so long as I was able to suspend my disbelief, I did enjoy reading it and will probably try another of the author’s books in the future – so, on that basis, I’m giving this one 3.5 stars and recommending it as a reasonably good read.
NB This book was provided for review by Amazon Vine UK.