Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Review of There’s Police at the Station and They Don’t Look Friendly by Adrian McKinty (Serpent’s Tail, 2017)

Belfast 1988.  A recent returnee to Northern Ireland, a local drug-dealer, is found dead.  He’s been shot with a bolt from a crossbow in front of the house he shared with his Bulgarian wife.  Detective Sean Duffy returns from a holiday in Donegal to investigate. A few days earlier another man survived a similar attack. It seems as if local paramilitaries are actively policing drug-dealing in their area. Duffy keeps scratching at the case despite being directed to ‘yellow file’ it. Eventually his persistence starts to pay dividends, but it also brings a visit from Internal Affairs and attracts the attention of the IRA. If IA doesn’t push him out of the force, then the IRA might push him out of existence. To add spice to a difficult case, his partner has decided to seek a temporary break in their relationship, taking their young daughter with her. Duffy is not easily phased, but the stakes at work and home have got him worried.

There’s Police at the Station and They Don’t Look Friendly is the sixth book in Adrian McKinty’s excellent Sean Duffy series set in Carrickfergus in Northern Ireland during the 1980s. In this outing, Duffy has settled down with his partner and has mellowed a little after the birth of their daughter. His work life is just as difficult as ever. Being a Catholic cop and head of Carrickfergus CID at the height of the Troubles is challenging; more so when you have a streak of intransigence and bloody-mindedness and want to solve every crime and have the wits to do so. In this case, Duffy seeks the killer of a local drug-dealer which brings him into the orbit of paramilitaries who ‘police’ local areas. As usual he manages to rub his own colleagues and powerful people up the wrong way, with potentially deadly consequences.  As with the other books, the characterisation, sense of place and time, intertextuality, and prose are excellent.  Duffy and his colleagues are three-dimensional characters and the dialogue throughout the story sparkles.  In addition, the pacing and plotting is very nicely done, with tale working its way to a tense denouement without the need for obvious plot devices.  The result is a wonderful addition to the series.


pattinase (abbott) said...

One of my favorite writers and I don't mind losing the Edgar to him.

Dana King said...

Nice review. I agree on all counts. I particularly like the ending, where McKinty leaves open the door for future adventures under somewhat different circumstances, or can end the series with a nice, clean bow tied to it. An impressive accomplishment all around.