Tag Archives: Cold Ground

Book review: I Hear the Sirens in the Streets

i-hear-the-sirens-in-the-streetFor a writer who once decried the notion of book series as a tired formula, Adrian McKinty is remarkably good at them. I Hear the Sirens in the Street is the second in a series of three books set during the height of Ireland’s civil war in the seventies and eighties and featuring Detective Sergeant Sean Duffy.

Just to recap, Duffy is a Catholic in a Protestant dominated police force in a Protestant dominated town. He’s intelligent, has a nose for trouble and a determination not to back down in the face of threats from higher up in the police, or anywhere else for that matter. He also has good taste in music and, as the book opens, a deteriorating love life. In other words, he’s a well-rounded character in a hellish situation.

I Hear the Sirens in the Street kicks off the discovery of a body in a suitcase in an abandoned factory. Well, not exactly a body, the torso with the other bits sawn off. It belonged to an American citizen, a former US Marine during WWII. The American was poisoned with a very rare flower, frozen, and then cut up. Looking into the murder, it’s not long before Duffy is rubbing up against bent paramilitaries, an ambitious American carmaker and officials higher up in the police who just want to forget the whole thing.… Read more

Hunger and other films about doing time

I haven’t spent a lot of time in prisons and don’t want to. But I won’t deny they make tremendous story settings.

This was brought home to me again over the weekend after watching Hunger, Steve McQueen’s 2008 depiction of the final months in the life of IRA militant Bobby Sands. Sands and 9 other IRA inmates staved themselves to death in 1981 in protest against the Thatcher government’s insistence of treating them as common criminals rather than political prisoners.

I recently reviewed Adrian McKinty’s book The Cold Cold Ground, which dealt with a Catholic cop in a Protestant neighbourhood trying to solve a murder against the backdrop of the civil unrest unleashed by the hunger strikes.

Hunger is about what happened inside the walls of the Maze Prison. It’s a visceral, blistering film, all the more so because it’s made with incredible slight of hand.

It opens with the arresting image of a pair of bloody knuckles being soaked in water. These belong to one of the prison guards and were acquired administering incredibly savage beatings to IRA prisoners in response to their “blanket and dirty protests” in which the prisoners refused to wash and smeared shit over the walls of their prison cells. The guard is subsequently murdered in the aged care home where his mother lives, one of 16 guards killed by paramilitaries in retaliation for the treatment of the prisoners.… Read more