Humor and Horror: MysteryPeople Q&A with Adrian McKinty

  • Interview by Director of Suspense Molly Odintz

I’ve followed Adrian McKinty’s Sean Duffy series for years now, ever since I flew through his Troubles Trilogy, only to jump up and down with happiness when I realized he planned to continue the series. With the release of McKinty’s latest, Police at the Station and They Don’t Look Friendly, I found an opportunity to interview the man himself, rather than just talking to the internet about how much I love his books. Thanks to Seventh Street Books for bringing his works to the states, and thanks to Adrian for letting me ask him a series of rather long questions. 

Molly Odintz: So the idea that Sean Duffy can quit smoking is rather laughable to me. Will he ever get his health together in the context of life in such a stressful position? 

Adrian McKinty: I seriously doubt it. I knew many coppers in that era and all of them were huge social drinkers and chain smokers that you would be foolish to try and keep up with. But there’s always hope. I think he’s probably off the cocaine for good now which is nice.

MO: In your latest, you show how entrenched and mafia-like the paramilitaries have become by the late 80s, especially when it comes to drug crimes. By the late 80s, do you think more paramilitaries were motivated by power and money than politics? 

AM: By the early 80s it was obvious that the Troubles were not going to end anytime soon so the smarter/more cynical ones diversified into protect rackets and drugs. At a famous meeting in Belfast in 1985 supposedly mortal enemies the IRA and UVF met to divide Belfast into drug territories. And that is still the case to this very day.

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International Crime Fiction Pick: POLICE AT THE STATION AND THEY DON’T LOOK FRIENDLY by Adrian McKinty

  • Post by Director of Suspense Molly Odintz

9781633882591We read a wide array of international detective fiction here at MysteryPeople, and, of course, we each have our favorites. In honor of St. Patrick’s Day (and even more in honor of the year-round excellence that defines Irish crime fiction) we’re highlighting some work, past and present, from our favorite Irish detective novelists. Last Thursday, Scott Montgomery took us through an underappreciated new classic – Cross, by Ken Bruen. Today, we’re diving into Adrian McKinty’s latest Sean Duffy novel, Police at the Station and They Don’t Look Friendly, released this March, and which just so happens to feature a few words of praise for the author on the back cover from yours truly.

Adrian McKinty’s Sean Duffy series, set in the 80s in Northern Ireland, weaves real events (such as Margaret Thatcher’s attempted assassination, the closing of the Delorian factory, and Muhammed Ali’s visit to the troubled region) together with fiendishly plotted mysteries. McKinty doesn’t use his crime fiction to paint a black and white portrait of good and evil – his settings are too historically messy, his characters too finely crafted, to devolve into stereotype. In McKinty’s Duffy series, paramilitaries commit petty crimes for personal reasons; corrupt officials occasionally compensate for their fall from grace with a touch of honor; policemen steal drugs from the evidence room…In short, no easy line exists between the personal and the political, and even though most plotlines trace back to MI5  or the IRA, it’s never for the reasons one would think.

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MysteryPeople Review: RAIN DOGS by Adrian McKinty

9781633881303– Review by Molly Odintz

A drian McKinty’s latest, Rain Dogsis a strong continuation of his Sean Duffy series. As Rain Dogs opens, Muhammad Ali makes a peace visit to Northern Ireland, and Duffy gets assigned to Ali’s security detail. Those readers not used to seeing Sean Duffy in any state other than abject misery will enjoy this brief respite. Ali’s visit to Northern Ireland heralds Rain Dogs complex context – paramilitaries, civil rights activists, spies, and economists all compete to transform Northern Ireland, blasted by the mid-eighties into a blank palate on which to play international games and stage social and economic experiments.

While Duffy enjoys his escort duties to the max, even securing a framed photograph of his place next to the great boxer in Ali’s security entourage, his next assignment is less fun. Duffy gets called to a hotel room to find the missing wallet of a Finnish diplomat evaluating Northern Ireland’s potential for electronics manufacturing. While Duffy quickly settles on the delegation’s clearly connected interns as the merry pranksters who’ve stolen the wallet, he suspects the delegates of a more sinister agenda to their visit.

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MysteryPeople Review: GUN STREET GIRL by Adrian McKinty

gun street girlPost by Molly
When I finished reading Adrian McKinty’s Troubles Trilogy last year, it was with a heavy heart. The Cold Cold Ground, I Hear The Sirens In The Street and In The Morning I’ll Be Gone together formed the greatest noir trilogy and one of the best trilogies, period, that I have ever read. I was so sad to say farewell to Detective Sean Duffy, with his Catholic-policeman-in-Northern-Ireland outsider perspective and his (very noir) ability to take everyone’s punches and still get his in the end. After finishing up his Troubles Trilogy, McKinty took some time off from Northern Ireland to write the excellent historical thriller The Sun Is God, set in the 1890s on a remote island taken over by (possibly murderous) opium-drinking sun-worshipers.

Lucky for me, McKinty decided to bring Duffy back to the page in his explosive new sequel to the trilogy, Gun Street Girl. McKinty sets Gun Street Girl in 1985 against the backdrop of the Anglo-Irish Agreement, Margaret Thatcher’s attempt at easing hostilities between Great Britain and Ireland that quickly sparked riots and demonstrations by Ulstermen in response to the new spirit of cooperation.

McKinty truly believes in the “starts bad, gets worse” definition for noir. Duffy spends the first few pages of the novel up all night, dealing first with a botched arrest for gun smuggling, then a fight at a bordello, and after a couple hours of sleep, a jurisdictional fight over the right to investigate a double murder. Duffy’s colleagues immediately peg the wealthy family’s wastrel son as prime suspect, but Duffy has his suspicions. The wealthy couple’s scion ends up dead of an apparent suicide, quickly followed by the seemingly self-inflicted suffocation of his girlfriend. Duffy soon finds himself embroiled in an increasingly convoluted case with difficult-to-arrest suspects and more cover-ups and incompetence than the Nixon Administration.

McKinty’s signature juxtapositions – local and global, Catholic and Protestant, police and paramilitaries, austerity and excess – are all present in Gun Street Girl, where McKinty continues to astound me with his ability to demonstrate the interconnected, tangled relationships and blurred lines between perceived opposites. Gun Street Girl also continues to demonstrate McKinty’s penchant for complex plots, caustic dialogue, and devastating conclusions.

Sean Duffy is still mixing together more alcohol and pharmaceuticals than an Irvine Welsh character, still solving cases for his own satisfaction rather than any trust in the legal system, and his Northern Irish context still breathes new life into the tired convention of the alcoholic detective risking all to solve a case. Adrian McKinty’s work is reminiscent of the 1940s and 50s classic P.I. novels. I make this comparison not based on shared subject material, but because first, Duffy has the impeccable taste and snide intellectualism of Raymond Chandler’s Marlowe, and second, McKinty’s novels are, in my mind, already elevated to canonical status.

McKinty’s work is a formidable defense of the continuing relevance of genre fiction. McKinty takes the time-tested conventions of the mystery genre and builds a narrative utterly unique and compelling over them. He uses the structure of crime fiction as a spur to his own creativity and as set of limiting factors that condense the sprawl of Northern Irish history into a series of tight, interconnected narratives with no loose ends. In short, McKinty has learned from the masters, and in my opinion, now is one.


You can find copies of Gun Street Girl on our shelves and via bookpeople.com. For an interview with the author, check up on our page later on this week.

Top 6 Books To Look Forward to In 2014

2014 is looking like a great year for crime fiction fans. It’s so good that while I was making a top 5 list of books I’m looking forward to, I realized I had to make it 6.

 

1. Hollow Girl by Reed Farrel Coleman

This will be a bittersweet read, since it will be the last book featuring my favorite contemporary private eye, Moe Prager. Moe is one of the most fully realized characters out there and this series contains some of the most poignant books I’ve ever read. I may be wiping tears as I turn pages. On Sale 5/18/14. Pre-order here.

 

2. Blood Always Tells by Hilary Davidson

As much as I love Hilary’s Lily Moore series, this novel of blackmail, kidnapping, and bad relationships sounds like the kind of book I’ve been waiting for her to write. Leaning her towards darker short fiction, this could be the Gone Girl of 2014. On Sale 4/15/14. Pre-order here.

 

james ellroy3. Perfidia by James Ellroy

Ellroy goes back to The City Of Angels to revisit some of the characters from his LA Quartet in their earlier days. This could be a return to the sprawling, stylish, down and dirty Ellroy we all got hooked on. On Sale 9/9/14. Pre-order here. 

 

 

4. The Poor Boy’s Game by Dennis Tafoya

I’ve been waiting years for Dennis Tafoya to come out with a new book – read Dope Thief to know why. This tale of an ex-US Marshall protecting her sister and step mother from her father on the streets of Philadelphia should have all the gritty heart I’ve come to expect from him and be well worth the wait. On Sale 4/29/14. Pre-order here.

 

5. In The Morning I’ll Be Gone by Adrian McGinty

The final installment of The Troubles Trilogy featuring Sean Duffy, a Catholic cop in Thatcher-era Belfast. My only hope is that McGinty will find a way to continue with this complex character and his biting sense of humor. On Sale 3/4/14. Pre-order here. 

 

6. The Fever by Megan Abbott

A new book by Megan Abbott. That’s all that needs to be said. On Sale 6/17/14. Pre-order here.