Review: Adrian McKinty – I Hear the Sirens in the Street

Adrian McKinty, I Hear the Sirens in the StreetAdrian McKinty’s The Cold Cold Ground was my favourite read of 2012 so I was looking forward to the next book in the series. Post-Christmas England is a miserable place and after living in a Mediterranean country for the last four years, I wanted something to combat the January blues. At first glance, a crime novel set in the Troubles in the early 1980s might not seem the ideal read but McKinty’s books are written with humour and have page-turning plots. I also find this particular series fascinating as it is set in the recent past, featuring real life characters that I can remember well from the time.

I Hear the Sirens in the Street opens with the discovery of  a torso in a suitcase. A tattoo on the body suggests an American identity of the victim but the suitcase is traced back to a farm where the husband of the owner was murdered by the IRA. Newly promoted DI Sean Duffy suspects something is amiss with the original murder inquiry but his investigations are thwarted by the local landowner with links to the car manufacturer John DeLorean who has just set up a plant in the country.

As I’d expect from McKinty’s books, this was an enjoyable read. Sean Duffy returns with a police medal in recognition of his escapades in the first book. However he remains the music listening, joint smoking detective with the chaotic love life that was so enjoyable. The foibles of the RUC are given a wider view here, home to alcoholic policemen who joined up for what would have a been a relatively easy job before the Troubles began. We also get a sense of the conflicts with the other law agencies: army, special branch and MI5 in addition to US intelligence. I had forgotten all about the DeLorean case and it fascinating was to read a fictional take on era when government money was being pumped into an enterprise that seems doomed from the start.

The background of both the Troubles and the onset of the Falklands War gives the narrative a sense of anything is possible which helps the slightly OTT action, especially towards the end. The novel finishes on a sombre note and it will be interesting to see where book three takes us. With McKinty anything is possible.

The author’s website is here. I bought my copy of the book which has also been reviewed at The View from the Blue House and The Game’s Afoot.

17 thoughts on “Review: Adrian McKinty – I Hear the Sirens in the Street

  1. Margot Kinberg

    Sarah – I have to agree with you that it’s very enjoyable to read about Sean Duffy. And it’s interesting that you’d mention the times when these novels are set. Stories set in the recent past can be easier to connect with in the sense of remembering some of the things discussed in the plot. You know, I hadn’t thought about the DeLorean case for a long long time ’til you mentioned it here.
    I’ll admit I haven’t read this one yet; it’s coming up soon on my TBR. But it is good to hear that there’s humour in this one as well. Is it that same black humour that we see in The Cold, Cold Ground? Sometimes that kind of humour can be really appealing.


  2. One of the reasons I like reading mysteries books set in the past is that I am so ignorant of history and geography and world politics. And it is worse to be ignorant of something that happened in my lifetime. Books like this sometimes help to fill in the gaps in my education. (I focused on math and psychology.) I am looking forward to reading the first one in the trilogy… this time I bought a copy so my husband can read it, so he may get there first.


  3. vicki (skiourophile / bibliolathas)

    I’m looking forward to reading these – I wonder how they’ve gone down in their home territory? It’s still such a terribly sensitive topic.


  4. Sarah, I think I’d enjoy this book as well given that I have read a few thrillers revolving around the IRA though not the RUC so much. The IRA has been romanticised in fiction as evident from the many novels of Jack Higgins (Harry Patterson) whose key character Liam Devlin is a poet-intellectual and a former member of the militant outfit. Devlin is at his best in THE EAGLE HAS LANDED.


  5. Oh yes! Higgins is my favourite author from the popular fiction era and he continues to write even now. His thrillers are mild compared to, say, Tom Clancy or Robert Ludlum, but they are good. In addition to the above title, I’d recommend his early books like THE LAST PLACE GOD MADE, STORM WARNING, NIGHT OF THE FOX, SAVAGE DAY.and TOLL FOR THE BRAVE. You can read his novels inside of two hours. Higgins is the most popular pseudonym of Harry Patterson who also writes under a couple of other assumed names. Many of his novels have been made into films.


  6. I read McKinty’s Bloomsday Dead a while ago. I’m a big Joyce fan, and was exepcting a nice gentle/genteel literary thriller. Boy was I in for a surprise! It’s not my usual kind of thing, but I did like it, and thought it was very well-written, if a bit too violent. Perhaps I should try this one, or its predecessor….


    1. I agree about them being well written. And I think I read on Goodreads from a reader who said that in each of McKinty’s books there is one very violent scene which I think is true. I would start with book 1 Moira in this series if you fancy giving it a go. I think you’ll like it.


  7. Pingback: The Best of January’s Reading « crimepieces

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