Sunday, September 03, 2017

Adrian McKinty wins another award

Adrian McKinty's novel Police at the Station and They Don't Look Friendly has won Australia's Ned Kelly Award for best crime novel. The award follows his capture of the Best Paperback Original prize at the Edgar Awards in New York this past spring for Rain Dogs. Here's what I had to say about Police at the Station and They Don't Look Friendly earlier this year.
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 Adrian McKinty's Sean Duffy series, now six novels into what was once called the Troubles Trilogy, keeps getting better and better.

The language is gorgeous, the characters are endearing, the atmosphere full both of humor and of off-hand, everyday life, menacing and otherwise. With this much good crime writing coming out of Northern Ireland, how can anyone mention the Nordic countries in the same breath? Hell, how about the rest of the world? With McKinty ably supported by a cast that includes Stuart Neville just as a start, why is Northern Ireland not routinely numbered among the world's great crime fiction locations?

McKinty's books portray their settings as vividly as do Arnaldur Indriðason's Erlendur novels, set in Iceland (and they're a lot funnier). His Sean Duffy is as endearingly flawed as Andrea Camilleri's Salvo Montalbano (Poetry and music are to Duffy what food is to Montalbano, and the two characters lead similarly complicated romantic lives, although— but you'll have to read Book Six, the recently released Police at the Station and They Don't Look Friendly, to complete that thought.)  McKinty's Belfast is every bit as vivid a crime fiction locale as Jean-Claude Izzo's Marseille.  And he turns as unsparing an eye on that locale as Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö did on Sweden in their Martin Beck novels

Not only that, but McKinty deftly takes on any number of traditional mystery and crime tropes, and the Duffy series and their protagonist are erudite without being condescending. McKinty has also long attacked the notion that a writer's style ought to be workmanlike and invisible. He champions David Peace and James Ellroy, for example, so you know you're bound to find a gorgeous passage or two, prose you can relish for its own sake, in every book.  And if you listen to books, you're in for a treat. Gerard Doyle, the reader of the Sean Duffy audiobooks, is a master of accents, and he gives each character a distinct voice without ever descending to bathos and exaggeration. The audio versions pair the best of crime novels with the best of audiobook readers.

(The five previous Sean Duffy novels are The Cold, Cold Ground; I Hear the Sirens in the Street; In the Morning I'll be Gone; Gun Street Girl; and Rain Dogs. I've been a McKinty fan for years. Read all my Detectives Beyond Borders posts about his work.)

© Peter Rozovsky 2017

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24 Comments:

Blogger adrian mckinty said...

Glad you dug the new one, Peter. Yeah Doyle does a great job. Especially selling some of those jokes. I was pleased with the story in this one. I've always wanted to do a mole hunt ever since I saw the Alec Guinness Tinker Tailor...

I think N Ireland bats way above average in the crime fiction stakes: McGilloway, Neville, McGowan, Cavanagh, Brennan, Downey, McNamee, Bateman....I mean come on.

2 big factors have helped turned the spotlight our way recently I think: Belfast's extraordinary renaissance as a great Northern European city; Game of Thrones bring in money, attention and tourists. Its all good.

April 21, 2017  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, the mole worked, I didn't see shat was coming, but it made sense when it came. And I quite liked the way you handled the aftermath of the mold revelation, though I'll say no more for fear of giving too much away.

I liked what the book had to say about Belfast and its changes, too. I think I've mentioned that Ger Brennan gave s tour of the city that opened my eyes to things I might not have seen otherwise. And NI crime writing seems still be going strong. Steve Cavanagh is the newest of the group you mentioned, and I've loved both his novels.

I like Gerard Doyle's reading so much that I did a search for his non-Sean Duffy work, found that he'd read one of Ken Bruen's Brant novels, bought it, and liked it.

April 21, 2017  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Forgive the typos. It's 2:39 a.m., and I'm at s bar, and this is America, so the place is noisy and the noise is distracting.

April 21, 2017  
Anonymous Mark McGinn said...

Must read more of this guy. I listened to the locked room mystery:In the morning I'll be gone. Chuckled several times. Duffy is a compelling character.

April 21, 2017  
Blogger susan way said...

I keep saying....glad Duffy is getting his due but don't overlook McKinty's superb Michael Forsythe books from the previous decade....

April 21, 2017  
Blogger Dana King said...

The Troubles series has changed not only how I look at Ireland and its history, but led me to look back into distant Irish history and re-examine my Isirh ancestry. All that and entertaining as hell, too. You can't ask for more than than from a book.

Susan's point is well-taken: the Forsythe books are also exceptional.

April 21, 2017  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Dana: I've also read some modern and ancient Irish history and been to Ireland a few times since I started reading Irish history in a big way. I can recommend the historian Roy Foster.

April 21, 2017  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

And my thoughts on the Duffy series are about the same as yours.

April 21, 2017  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Adrian: I especially like Doyle's rendering of Crabbie's voice.

April 21, 2017  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Susan: Dead I Well May Be is the book that got me reading McKinty.

April 21, 2017  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Mark: I'd recommend the entire series.

April 21, 2017  
Blogger Fred said...


I've read all six of the Sean Duffy books, (just finished Police at the Station. . . two days ago).

McKinty is one of my must read mystery authors, along with several of the Nordic writers (sorry about that, Peter). I haven't looked into any of his other works, but that's on my futures list.

April 21, 2017  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

No need to apologize for liking Nordic writers. It's not that I don't think they're good; scroll back through Detectives Beyond Borders archives, and you'll see that I've appreciated, photographed, and interviewed a bunch of them. What I don't understand is the worldwide craze for Nordic crime writing. Whatever it is that strikes such a chord, I just don't get, and that goes right back to the beginning of the current wave. I don't think Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is a particularly good book. And, while I've enjoyed any number of Nordic crime novels (I contributed a short piece to one of Barry Forshaw's Nordic Noir books, about a novel by Hari Nykanen), Arnaldur is the only crime writer from that part of the world whom I've considered among the world's best. On the other hand, the best of McKinty and Sfuart Neville are as good as any crime fiction published today and McKinty especially tries things that other crime writers don't.

April 21, 2017  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

And yes, the Duffy novels (the Michael Forsyth books, too) would make valuable and entertaining collateral reading in courses on recent Irish history.

April 21, 2017  
Blogger Fred said...

Peter,

Have you read anything by Karin Fossum? She's one of my "must read" authors. Others, neither Nordic nor Irish, are Fred Vargas and Peter Robinson, along with a few others.

I agree with you about Stieg Larson. Girl with Dragon Tattoo was OK, the second wasn't as good as the first, and I didn't bother with the third.

April 21, 2017  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I read and liked Fossum's He Who Fears the Wolf, if I remember the title correctly. Look for my discussion of the book in my my blog's archives. I've read lots of Vargas, and I like her work, though she will very occasionally grow a bit tower for my taste. I also interviewed her a few years ago.

I haven't read Peter Robinson. Where should I start?

April 21, 2017  
Blogger Fred said...

Peter,

Hard to say. The first one Gallows View was the first one I read and I've read everything that followed. _In a Dry Season_ is one that stands out. A reservoir has gone dry in a drought and a corpse is found. It's a 40 year old cold case, and those are favorites of mine.

April 21, 2017  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks. If you like Vargas, you might also like Pierre Magnan or "The Great Swindle," by Pierre Lemaitre.

April 21, 2017  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Arnaldur has also written novels about bodies that bubble to the surface. See The Draining Lake, if you don't know it already.

April 21, 2017  
Blogger seana graham said...

I like the way you put him in the same class with these other writers, most of whom I've read, though not Montalbano, for some strange reason.

I agree with Susan that Duffy should not make us forget the excellences of the Forsyte trilogy.

Happen to be reading a Henning Mankell right now, though it's been some time since I read the previous one. I am enjoying it a lot.

April 21, 2017  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Mankell was one of the first authors who got me reading this stuff.

April 21, 2017  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

The parallels between Adrian and those other people did not strike me until I was typing this post. The point is that there's no reason Adrian shouldn't be as widely read as they are, or that people who like their books shouldn't

April 22, 2017  
Blogger seana graham said...

I think writing and reflecting about things often makes one see the parallels.

April 22, 2017  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

My muse does seems to have visited me on this happy occasion, yes.

April 22, 2017  

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