April 3, 2015

Book Review: Adrian McKinty's Gun Street Girl

I know a lot of you aren't mystery readers, but if you read mysteries even occasionally, I really, really recommend this one. I've found myself thinking about lines from it several times since I read it in January. I'm going to have to go back and catch up on some of McKinty's other books, because I enjoyed it so much. This is one of only three 5 star reviews I've given this year (out of the 50 books I've marked on Goodreads!).

Adrian McKinty's (In the Morning I'll Be Gone) remarkably clever new police procedural, Gun Street Girl, takes place in Belfast during the "Troubles." It's 1985, and Unionists and Nationalists are constantly fighting, making it a dangerous time to be a member of the Royal Ulster Constabulary Force (RUC), especially for Detective Sean Duffy, the only Catholic on the mostly Unionist force. Duffy is a contradictory man: a savvy detective, a nice neighbor and a good cop, who occasionally can't resist nailing a line of coke "so pure it was like being yelled at by God."

The RUC is investigating the murders of a rich couple, apparently shot by their son before he jumped off a cliff. Duffy isn't convinced that Michael Kelly's death was a suicide, but his work on the case is repeatedly interrupted by bomb threats and attacks from both Catholic and Protestant sides, forcing the "peelers" to stop investigating in order to work the riot lines. Being an officer in a war zone is always a tricky business, but it gets even stranger for Duffy when MI5 and a mysterious American agent with a fake identity get involved in the RUC's inquiry.

Written in a darkly funny, laconic style, Gun Street Girl is riveting. The noir ambiance is irresistible, and the Belfast setting is disturbingly vivid, a reminder of how dangerous Northern Ireland was recently. Fourth in a series, Gun Street Girl is sure to inspire readers to go back and catch up on more of McKinty's superb writing.

Or it might inspire you to check out some of Tana French's books. I have a love/hate relationship with her plotlines, but her writing is always spectacularly good.

Who's YOUR favorite Irish author?

I originally wrote most of this review for Shelf Awareness, and the post contains a couple of affiliate links, thanks for supporting Quirky Bookworm.