Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Review of I Hear Sirens in the Street by Adrian McKinty (Serpent’s Tail, 2013)

It’s April 1982 in Carrickfergus, Northern Ireland.  The hunger strikes only formally ended a few months previously, the assembly lines of DeLorean Motor Company are operating in North Belfast, and Argentina has just invaded the Falklands.  Detective Inspector Sean Duffy and his sergeant discover a headless, cut up body in a suitcase, dumped at an abandoned factory.  The age of the victim and a distinctive tattoo suggest he was an American veteran of the Second World War.  They’ve few other clues to go on and the US authorities and special branch aren’t being helpful.  Regardless, Duffy and his colleagues push on with the case making a little headway before hitting a brick wall.  Just as it’s about to become a cold case they’re given a cryptic clue.  Despite warnings not to proceed, Duffy pushes on determined to solve the murder regardless of the consequences.

I Hear Sirens in the Street is the second book in the Sean Duffy trilogy.  The first, The Cold, Cold Ground was one of my best reads of 2012.  This book has many of the same qualities - good historical contextualisation and intertextuality, politically and socially; well-penned, credible characters; a good balance between on and off-duty storylines; and strong sense of place.  In particular, the interaction between characters is very good and some of the dialogue sparkles, the prose is often wonderful, and Duffy is a compelling lead character - complex and flawed yet likeable.  Where the story is a little weak at times is with respect to pace and plot.  For the most part the story flies along, but in the middle section the pace slackens and the narrative felt a little slow and padded.  With respect to plot, there were a few elements of questionable credibility or acted as obvious plot devices.  They served the story and made for a dramatic climax to the book but nevertheless jarred a little.  Overall, I Hear Sirens in the Street is a compelling and entertaining read and I’m very much looking forward to reading the final instalment in the trilogy.



5 comments:

jiescribano said...

I will save you review until I read it, Rob. Hopefully soon

seana graham said...

I've read it in manuscript, Rob, and though I am not sure what the final form is, I think it is very much of a piece with the first book. The only lessening is that we are already so stunned by the new material that the first novel was.

Duffy and cohorts are great. I only wish that more people in America would tune in to them.

Rob Kitchin said...

I think AM is like one of those bands whose fans can't understand why he hasn't hit the mainstream when other crappier bands have. My hope would be that he suddenly breaks big and people turn to the back catalogue.

Paul D Brazill said...

Yep, looking forward to that one.

Auto Service Bellevue said...

I would like to thank Adrian for giving us the opportunity to read Sirens. I was put straight back into Sean Duffy’s world and reinforced just how much I loved the cold ground. :)