Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Another Difficult and Dangerous Case for Detective Sean Duffy

Adrian McKinty's second novel featuring Detective Sean Duffy is set in 1982, during the time of the "Troubles" in Northern Ireland. As the novel opens, a man's torso is found abandoned in a suitcase. Duffy manages to identify the victim as an American tourist--a retired IRS employee who had come to Ireland to visit his roots.

The autopsy reveals that the man was poisoned by a very rare plant, and Duffy can't find a hint of it anywhere in Northern Ireland. His only viable lead comes when he discovers the identity of the man who owned the suitcase. But the investigation hits an apparent dead end when it turns out that the man who owned the suitcase has himself been murdered, apparently by IRA assassins. His widow gave the suitcase to the Salvation Army, and there's no way of knowing who might have gotten it from them.

Both cases effectively wind up on the back burner. But Duffy continues to be bothered by apparent inconsistencies in both murders and, even though he's been ordered off the case, he continues to poke and prod, antagonizing some very dangerous people in the process and putting himself at serious risk of life and limb.

This is another extremely well-told tale with a very likable and savvy protagonist. McKinty sets the stage beautifully, and the violence and the sadness of the conflict between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland lurks behind virtually every scene. This book justly won the Barry Award for Best Paperback Original, and I can hardly wait to get my hands on the third book in the series. 4.5 stars.

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