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Announcing Adrian McKinty’s new thriller, THE COLD COLD GROUND

January 3rd, 2012

Cold Cold Ground cover

The Cold Cold Ground is the start of a major new series from Adrian McKinty, author of the acclaimed Falling Glass, Fifty Grand and the DEAD trilogy.

Featuring Catholic cop Sean Duffy whose outsider status in the mostly Protestant RUC makes it as hard to do his job as the criminals he’s fighting, this is the start of a new series set in Troubles-era Belfast. A body is found in a burnt out car. Another is discovered hanging from a tree. Could this be Northern Ireland’s first serial killer, or another paramilitary feud?

Here’s what Adrian has to say about the book:

I was born at home on Coronation Road, Carrickfergus, Northern Ireland in 1968. Coronation Road was one of the many red bricked terraces in a Protestant housing estate in a town five miles north of Belfast. The street where I grew up and Victoria Estate itself was controlled by two rival Protestant paramilitary factions: the UDA and the UVF. The paramilitaries ran protection rackets, administered “street justice”, dealt drugs etc.

In 1980 Carrickfergus’s major employer ICI shut down and almost the entire town was, overnight, thrown out of work. Carrickfergus was relatively untouched by the Troubles, but things changed in 1981 when the IRA Hunger Strikes began and the whole of Northern Ireland was engulfed by rioting, bombings, assassinations and for a time during the summer of 81, after the death of Bobby Sands, it seemed that Ulster was on the verge of civil war.

The central idea of The Cold Cold Ground was to follow a young police detective trying to do his job in the midst of all this chaos. He’s a bright Catholic cop in a primarily Protestant police force, who has recently moved to Carrickfergus. The homicide he’s asked to solve is what looks like an ordinary execution of a police informer, but it quickly becomes clear that the case is far from ordinary. The victim is homosexual and when more gays are killed it looks like the Ulster police are dealing with their first ever serial killer. The police resources are stretched thin by endemic rioting and the case is further complicated by the fact that in 1981 homosexuality was illegal in Northern Ireland and punishable by up to five years in prison.

I remember 1981 extremely well. I remember the bomb attacks in Belfast and trouble in the Estate. I remember getting a lift to school from a neighbour who was a captain in the British Army: he had to check under his car every morning for mercury tilt switch bombs and sometimes when it was raining or cold he would skip the check and my little brother and I would be in the back seat waiting for the first hill when the bomb might go off. . .

I wanted to set a book in this claustrophobic atmosphere, attempting to recapture the sense that civilization was breaking down to its basest levels. I also wanted to remember the craic, the music, the bombastic politicians, the apocalyptic street preachers, the sinister gunmen and a lost generation of kids for whom all of this was normal. The Cold Cold Ground is a police procedural, but a procedural set in extremely unusual circumstances in a controversial police force cracking under extraordinary external and internal pressures …