RogerBW's Blog

Rain Dogs, Adrian McKinty 21 August 2023

2016 crime, fifth in the Sean Duffy series. Belfast, 1987: Duffy faces another locked-room mystery when a journalist is found dead in Carrickfergus Castle.

And there's a lot of calling back to the previous one, In the Morning I'll Be Gone, with Duffy wondering about the odds of two complicated locked-room mysteries showing up in the same police career. (There's even some babbling about Bayesian inference.) Far less likely things happen in series that are supposedly much more realistic, and for me this pushes at the fourth wall more than I think is really good for the story.

‘Yeah, don't think about leaving. Think about Lily Bigelow's shoe, or Lily Bigelow's notebook, or why Sergeant Dalziel has a giant rubber cock in the bottom drawer of his desk.'

‘Why does S -- '

‘Cos I put it there. Now, get back to work.'

Another significant plot element here is Jimmy Savile, obviously written once he was safely dead and the secrets had started to come out. His portrayal here doesn't quite ring true, though; he was very good at making people other than his victims think of him as a good guy, and here he's shown to drop the friendly mask with a couple of complete strangers the moment he's discovered they can't do anything for him… well, it doesn't seem reasonable.

‘He says he didn't break her heart. He says she was all right last time they spoke,' Lawson said.

‘People called Tim always say that.'

The basic problem for me, though, is that Duffy is still entirely satisfied with who he is, and if anyone disagrees with him it must be because they're wrong, stupid, corrupt… Because the author's on his side, this is true more often than not, but it doesn't make him a likeable character.

And McKinty is officially Ignorant of Firearms:

We went downstairs, where Heikki handed Lawson and myself an anorak and an AK-47 each. I had never handled one before, but Heikki showed me the basics while I put the coat on.

‘Shouldn't we have a rifle for this kind of job?' I asked.

‘No rifle!' Heikki grunted.

It has its moments, even so. I'd still prefer to read the series that the first book promised, the detective solving complex crimes in a setting where 95% of violent death is "one or another paramilitary did it"; and there are elements of that here, but they're mixed with rather too much of the entire system being rotten from top to bottom and yet Duffy is determined to work within it.

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Previous in series: Gun Street Girl | Series: Sean Duffy | Next in series: Police at the Station and They Don't Look Friendly

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