Monday, December 15, 2014

McKinty's voice: An early look at the fourth book in the Troubles trilogy

Sean Duffy is the narrator as well the protagonist of Gun Street Girl, just as he is in the previous three volumes in McKinty's trilogy about a young Catholic officer in the overwhelmingly Protestant Royal Ulster Constabulary at the height of Northern Ireland's Troubles. And an engaging narrator he is, too.

Here are some examples from the book's first few chapters:
"Oscillating waves of sound. A fragment of Dutch. A DJ from RFI informing the world with breathless excitement that `EuroDisney sera construit à Paris."

" ... as soon as the word `Inspector' has passed my lips I can see she has lost interest.  There are assistant chief constables and chief superintendents floating around and I'm well down the food chain."

"Fireworks behind. Darkness ahead. And if that's not a metaphor for the Irish Question I don't know what is."

"Twelve-year-old Islay. Good stuff if you liked peat, smoke, earth, rain, despair, and the Atlantic Ocean, and who doesn't like that?"
"Home. The music on the turntable was classic Zep, and I let the plagiarizing bastards take me through a shower and a shave."
I expect exciting things will happen to Duffy, as they do in The Cold Cold Ground, I Hear the Sirens in the Street, and In the Morning I'll Be Gone.  But even more important than coming up with a good story is knowing how to tell it well, and McKinty can do that.  So yes, the Duffy books will teach you something about the grit and everyday tension of living in Northern Ireland amid murderous sectarian strife. More important than that, they're also lots of fun.
© Peter Rozovsky 2014

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27 Comments:

Blogger R.T. said...

Peter, do not tell Adrian McKinty that I have not gotten beyond his first novel. (Adrian, stop eavesdropping!)

I will have to make up for lost time so that the newest novel will make perfect sense.

Thanx for highlighting the new title. I will let you know when I catch up on my McKinty reading. (I will let you know too, Adrian! And BTW, accept my apology for having fallen behind.)

December 15, 2014  
Blogger R.T. said...

Postscript: Before I am pounced upon for falling behind, there is this in extentuation and mitigation of my offense:

http://bookloons.com/cgi-bin/Review.asp?bookid=11033

December 15, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Well, he's written about 12 or 15 books, of which Fifty Grand was not the first. (Your review appears here, in handy one-click format.) You have much to look forward to.

I think he has expressed skepticism about the idea of a crime fiction series, but his efforts in that direction are uniformly good.

December 15, 2014  
Blogger Fred said...

I've just finished _I Hear Sirens in the Street_ and plan to get the next one in the series. It is an excellent series,and the first mystery series I've ever read that was set in midst of a civil war.

I don't know what he has said about crime fiction series, but his makes a very good counter-argument.

December 16, 2014  
Blogger Dana King said...

Not that I needed it, but you have piqued my interest. THE SUN IS GOD is about two nooks down on my TBR pile, but this one will take the express to the top when I get it.

December 16, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Fred, I think Adrian's argument is that crime fiction series tend to go on too long. He's right with respect to some series, but Sean Duffy is still going strong through four books.

December 16, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Fred, no other series set in the midst of a civil war come to mind, though Kevin McCarthy's two novels set amid the tumultuous birth of the Irish Free State may be on the way.

December 16, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Dana, I expect to have more to say about the book when I've finished reading it. Among the features it retains from the previous Sean Duffy books are the music and other cultural references in the entertaining chapter titles

December 16, 2014  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...

Peter

Duffy is fortunate/unfortunate to be living in a time where there is plenty of real material. The interesting times of the old Chinese curse... I have to say though I sneakily admire what the TV people have done with Morse, Lewis and Endeavour. Oxford is a city with no murders and where nothing happens yet somehow theyve carved about 10 murder mystery series out of it...

Anyway thanks for the kind words!!!

December 16, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Next thing, you'll be saying nice things about Jessica Fletcher and all the people who drop dead when she comes around ... not to mention the (near) universal complaint by Icelandic crime writers that Iceland lacks crime.

Interesting times ... I have this idea that some writers who set crime stories in interesting times are afraid to loosen up and have people crack jokes, and so on. They respect their subject too much, that is.

December 16, 2014  
Blogger Fred said...

Peter,

If length is the problem that he was referring to, then he still has a way to go. I am aware of several who have read the first three and are looking forward to the fourth. I've read two and am eagerly moving on to the third, and no doubt, the fourth.

I've now read all four by Michael Stanley and hope there's a fifth on the way, so obviously I don't find a problem with him (or rather them) either.

I was also hoping for one more from PD James, even that series reached double digits, but that sadly is not to be.

December 16, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Perhaps Adrian was also a bit afraid of growing bored with his characters, and of being compelled to write books he didn't feel like writing.

Bill James' Harpur & Iles series has grown weaker, but it was superb through at least the first sixteen books, a long series by just about any standards. And, while I prefer the sixteen Parker novels Donald Westlake (Richard Stark) wrote before taking a long break from the series, others like the eight that came after.

December 16, 2014  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...

Peter, Fred

I always say that the exception that proves/disproves the rule is Patrick O'Brians Aubrey-Maturin series which somehow kicked it up to another level with book 10 and the quality remained very high until book 18.

December 16, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Bill James' series got off to a terrific start with the first seven books, then took off to another level once James got the idea of portraying criminals' aspirations as a parallel, though much funnier, version of ordinary middle-class aspirations.

I don't know why James is not esteemed right up there with George V. Higgins and Elmore Leonard as a pioneer in crime fiction that explores the criminals' world view. He is, or was, a better writer than both Higgins and Leonard were. His novels are far more malevolently theatrical, and therefore less straightforwardly natural than theirs, which may help account for the difference in public reception.

December 16, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Make that the first six books, before the new, grand plan kicked in in Book 7.

Speaking of authors and the evenness or opposite of their books, I browsed a bunch of Philip K. Dick at the Strand last week. What would you recommend of his, other than Do Androids Dream ... I was curious about what he did with the premise of The Man in the High Castle.

December 16, 2014  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...

Peter

I am a PKD completist and I believe I have read all of his novels and most of his short stories.

3 PKD novels which make oblique appearances in Gun Street Girl are High Castle, A Scanner Darkly and Flow My Tears The Policeman Said - all of which are excellent. Duffy hasnt read and isnt aware of Dick which has allowed me to drop him into Dick's universe at a few points...

PKD's work is notoriously patchy (in one 12 month period under the influence of speed he wrote 11 novels) but the 1970's work is of high quality.

My personal favourites are:

Ubik, High Castle, Scanner, Valis, Flow My Tears, Timothy Archer, Androids, Time Out of Joint, Divine Invasion... (mostly the later stuff)

December 16, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Naturally my initial attraction is to those stories that use some crime-story conventions, in addition to The Man in the High Castle. So thanks. I also liked the opening scene of Scanner Darkly, so thanks.

December 17, 2014  
Blogger Fred said...

I'm not a PKD completist, but I have read all of the ones you listed, except for Timothy Archer. When I get to Gun Street Girl, I'll be looking out for those oblique appearances.

Have you seen the film version of A Scanner Darkly? I thought it was an interesting attempt.

December 17, 2014  
Blogger R.T. said...

Peter (et al) . . . I apologize for this end-run announcement, but Beyond Eastrod has ceased "publication" . . . however, I have moved my blogging offenses to Crimes and Detectives, Inc., and I look forward to seeing y'all there every now and then.

Regards,
R. T. (from the Gulf Coast Redneck Rivera -- where the Bible Belt is firmly buckled and the oysters are always delicious)

December 17, 2014  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...

Fred

I liked that film very much. That and Blade Runner might be the best 2 PKD adaptations

December 17, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

R.T.: I have adjusted my "blog roll" accordingly. Thanks.

December 17, 2014  
Blogger R.T. said...

Nay, good friend, it is I who thank you!

And I do hope you will stop by and keep me honest and straighten me out when I post about crime fiction.

December 17, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Adrian and Fred: You two Dickheads just carry on. I'll picks up scraps of guidance where I can. Sounds like Scanner Darkly is where I'll start, though I did read Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep years ago after seeing Blade Runner.

December 17, 2014  
Blogger Fred said...

Adrian,

Have you seen _Natural City_? It's a Korean adaptation of _Blade Runners_. I wasn't aware of the actual connection, but when I started viewing it, the relationship became clear.

I haven't seen _Radio Free Albemuth_ yet, but it's slowly moving up my queue.

December 17, 2014  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...

Natural City eh? I'll look for it...

December 17, 2014  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Peter. Adrian Hyland here (need to identify myself, as I don't have google account and can only log in as Anon)

Was nice to hear from you over on the other Australian Adrian's blog.

Often come here to get some ideas on good books, but don't tend to post - life too chaotic the past few years - been struggling with health of my youngest daughter (she had liver transplant last year - poor kid - only 16)

As you noted, my last book was about a terrible bushfire in our region (had a cop as hero - make up for all the naughty things i said about cops in the Emily Tempest books) but am tackling another crime novel at the moment - sometimes I forget that in periods of chaos and crisis, writing is a way of holding on to your sanity

Anyway, my friend, thanks for your excellent work, and we'll meet around the traps one day

Cheers

Adrian

December 19, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Adrian, it's pleasure to hear from you. I know you've had lots to deal with these last few years. I'll be thinking about you and your daughter, perhaps when I light Hanukkah candles one of these evenings. And a Merry Christmas to you and yours.

Brushfires must be a national nightmare in Australia. I remember a terrifying scene in one of Arthur W. Upfield's novels in which Boney is trapped in the middle of one.

I would not mind making it to Australia one of these years. The visitor traffic should not be all in one direction.

December 19, 2014  

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