Monday, February 9, 2015

Review: Gun Street Girl

Gun Street Girl
Gun Street Girl by Adrian McKinty

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It's a good thing [a:Ian Rankin|33031|Ian Rankin|] approves of Adrian McKinty: I wouldn't want the Scot to think the Irishman is ripping him off. McKinty's Sean Duffy does bear striking resemblances to Rebus – the hard but controlled drinking, the outsider status, the love of obscure music, the old-fashioned moral code – and there is a similarity in the plotting that makes comparisons inevitable. But the main similarity is that they're both excellent, and with this, the fourth in the series, McKinty is starting to show the same consistency as Rankin. If you're running out of Rebuses, as I am, then get your hands on some Duffys. You won't be disappointed.

McKinty's novels are set in a strict time and place: Belfast during the Troubles. By Gun Street Girl, the fourth in the series, we are in 1985, with the Anglo-Irish Agreement about to spark the touchpaper of a seemingly inexhaustible powder keg of political and sectarian violence. Duffy, a Catholic in the overwhelmingly Protestant Royal Ulster Constabulary, is tutoring a colleague in a seemingly open-and-shut murder-suicide that has resonances across the water in arms dealing and political machinations. Along the way he has romantic run-ins with a journalist and a British spook.

As ever, the plotting is meticulous and the period detail compelling (despite one glaring error: on a visit to Oxford Duffy is driven down the M40 from Birmingham – a stretch of motorway that didn't exist in 1985).

Another thing in McKinty's favour is that he sends polite 'thank-yous' whenever I write complimentary reviews of his books. I get the feeling he'd be just as gentlemanly if I slagged him off. But he'll have to write a bad book first, and he hasn't done that yet.

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