Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Review of Rain Dogs by Adrian McKinty (Serpent's Tail, 2016)

1987, Northern Ireland.  Detective Inspector Sean Duffy of Carrickfergus CID is experiencing the high and lows of being a member of the RUC – riot duty for Muhammad Ali’s visit to Belfast, Beth his student girlfriend leaving him, and investigating the supposed theft of a wallet from a Finnish delegation visiting to assess the area for a new factory.  Then a young English journalist who was accompanying the Finns is found dead in the grounds of Carrickfergus castle.  It seems like a suicide but some evidence suggests otherwise.  If it is murder, then Duffy has a perplexing locked-room mystery, the second of his career – and the odds against that are astronomical.  On the same night a chief inspector who had been involved in the Finns' trip dies in a car bomb.  Duffy and his colleagues doggedly pursue the locked-room case which points to organized sexual abuse at the highest levels by politicians and television stars but find it difficult to make progress.

Two years since Sean Duffy’s last outing in Gun Street Girl and he’s still a somewhat listless detective inspector in Carrickfergus, Northern Ireland.  In this fifth instalment in the series Duffy’s love life once again flounders and he’s presented with an intriguing locked-room mystery.  At the heart of the case is sex abuse ring linked to Jimmy Saville and others, which Duffy finds difficult to investigate.  There’s no doubt that McKinty has created a superior police procedural series.  As with the previous four books, Rain Dogs presses all the right buttons – an engaging flawed lead character, a strong sense of place and time, nice contextualisation, and a thoughtful, clever plot with an interesting puzzle.  And, as usual, it’s written in his distinctive prose and laced with dark humour.  The story is a little flat in the middle at times and it would have been fascinating for the Saville angle to be explored a bit more, but nonetheless the tale is another strong addition to this excellent series. 


pattinase (abbott) said...

He's a top ten writer for me.

Elgin Bleecker said...

I enjoy McKinty’s writing, and the social, political, and professional conflicts for Sean Duffy.