Looking for Justice in an Unjust War

Post date: Jul 12, 2014 8:13:03 PM

The Cold Cold Ground

An occupied country racked by sectarian violence. The night is shattered by gunfire and the blast of improvised explosive devices. Burning buildings and barricades light up the darken sky.

Sounds like a description of Iraq in the past decade, doesn't it? But this is Belfast, Northern Ireland in 1981 during the "Troubles." It is the setting for Adrian McKinty's brilliant mystery, The Cold, Cold Ground, the first in a trilogy featuring Detective Sergeant Sean Duffy, a Catholic cop with the largely Protestant Royal Ulster Constabulary.

An over-educated but relatively inexperienced investigator, Duffy faces what he believes to be a homophobic serial killer. But Duffy wonders why, in a country where psychopathic killers simply need to choose a side to satisfy their murderous urges, a serial killer would go it alone? Duffy's investigation finds him in conflict with the Catholic Irish Republican Army and the Protestant Ulster Volunteer Force, as well as the British Army which occupies Belfast.

McKinty, an Irish-born writer now living in the United States, does an extraordinary job of describing life during the turmoil of the Troubles, a time when simply out of habit you had to check your car for bombs every time you got in. Beyond the twists and turns of the masterful plot, The Cold, Cold Ground is a lesson in the hopelessness of waging war over religious beliefs— a lesson many in Iraq as well as McKinty's adopted country need to learn.