Thursday, May 29, 2014

Review of In the Morning I’ll Be Gone by Adrian McKinty (Serpent’s Tail, 2014)

1983, Sean Duffy is a Catholic cop in the Royal Ulster Constabulary.  With a record of badly judged misdemeanours and demoted out of CID, Duffy is soon drummed out of the force.  Salvation, however, comes from an unlikely source - British intelligence.  The Maze prison breakout has resulted in several high profile IRA members being on the loose.  One them is master bomb-maker, Dermot McCann, with whom Duffy attended school.  McCann was last spotted in Libya, but has now disappeared and is feared to be preparing a major bombing campaign.  In return for reinstatement to his old rank and post, MI5 want Duffy to locate his former friend.  He finds an unlikely ally in McCann’s former mother-in-law, who’ll use her Republican networks to help, but only if he’ll solve the death of her daughter.  The problem is that Lizzie died in the family pub which was locked and bolted from the inside and all the evidence points to an accident rather than the murder her mother suspects.  Duffy harbours the same suspicions, but can find no compelling evidence to support them and it’s only a matter of time until McCann resurfaces.

In the Morning I’ll Be Gone is the third book in the Duffy trilogy.  It can be read as a standalone, but I’d recommend reading the earlier two instalments in this excellent series.  In my view this is McKinty’s strongest book of the one's I've read).  It hits all the bases - strong voice and prose; very good sense of place and history that interweaves real events and people; nice characterisation and interplay between characters; and a well worked plot.  What sets this apart from his previous work is the latter.  McKinty has always been a good plotter, but in In The Morning I’ll be Gone he entwines two compelling stories to great effect.  At one level the tale is a straightforward thriller - Duffy is running against the clock to try and track down an IRA master bomb-maker, Dermot McCann.  The twist is that McKinty inserts a cold case locked room mystery into the heart of the novel, one that reconnects him with a family from his past.  Duffy thus ends up undertaking a traditional police procedural investigation that involves patient detection framed within a wider case that demands more urgency.  Both cases are very well told and enfolded, leading to a clever and interesting climax.  It takes a skilled writer to convincingly insert a character into real history and McKinty pulls it off with aplomb.  An excellent conclusion to the trilogy and highly recommended.


seana graham said...

I totally agree, except that I find the whole trilogy very strong. I may have a preference for the first just because that was the first to introduce us to that place and time, and it was a subject I had been hoping Adrian would write about for awhile.

Ray Kolb said...

I've just started reading The Cold Cold Ground. Good to hear that the entire trilogy is strong.