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The Cold Cold Ground

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Northern Ireland, 1981. The police have plenty to deal with as nationalists riot in the streets, hunger strikes in full swing. So when a gay man is found with a bullet in his skull and one of his hands cut off, on the surface it looks like he’s the victim of a paramilitary hit. However DS Sean Duffy of the Carrickfergus constabulary investigates the scene and has his doubts. Before long another known homosexual is found dead in similar circumstances. The killer sends Duffy a postcard setting off a game of cat and mouse. Psychopaths in Northern Ireland are usually absorbed by paramilitary organisations, but it seems that Ulster has its first classic serial killer. When the body of the ex-wife of a hunger striker is found in some nearby woods, Duffy has a real challenge on his hands. Was it suicide? Is it linked to the other two killings? Were the IRA, UDA, UVF or some other set of terrorist initials involved? The way McKinty writes you can hear every knuckle crack, every gunshot and explosion, and feel the breath of the terrorist gunmen as they lean in with their threats. The book has an incredible final action sequence – it’s like watching a film. Maybe it will be a film one day?

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