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The Cold Cold Ground (Sean Duffy #1)

3.92  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,321 Ratings  ·  473 Reviews
Northern Ireland, 1981. A homophobic serial killer and a young woman's suicide appear unrelated, but things aren't always what they seem. Detective Sergeant Duffy is assigned to investigate and soon finds himself in a no-win situation.
Audio CD
Published January 3rd 2012 by Blackstone Audiobooks (first published January 1st 2012)
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Aug 15, 2015 Frances rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Adrian McKinty won the 2014 Spinetingler Award for Cold, Cold Ground for best crime novel, and is book one in a series. It’s a gritty heartfelt story set during the uprising and turmoil of Northern Island in the eighties. Sean Duffy, a Catholic detective living among the Protestants, is investigating a bizarre murder while striving to survive during a horrifying time in his country. Duffy’s dry wit lightens the mood of the plot and keeps the story flowing along smoothly. It is noteworthy that th ...more
Dec 03, 2012 Eric_W rated it it was amazing
We had the very good fortune a couple of years ago to meet and visit with a Goodreads friend in Ireland ( My wife's grandmother immigrated from northern Ireland in the late 19th century and since things had calmed down in Ireland we flew over to find her ancestral home. Tony and Linda were extraordinarily helpful in finding the area and Tony provided a walking tour of Belfast and Bellaghy (a town he said he was still a little reluctant to visit given it ...more
May 12, 2015 Stephen rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this, but I stopped short of thoroughly enjoying it. The depiction of Northern Ireland on the brink of all-out civil war was incredibly well done, as was the 1981 setting. You really got a sense of despair, danger and dissolution. However, while the deeply conservative nature of all sides in the conflict was realistically portrayed, it left me feeling somewhat uncomfortable in the references to the victims of the killings.

The writing itself was somewhat variable. McKinty clearly has re
Susan Johnson
Aug 07, 2014 Susan Johnson rated it really liked it
This novel had me literally sitting on the edge of my seat. It was that well written and took that many curves and twists that I never saw the ending coming. It was set in Carrickfergus, just out of Belfast in the 1980's. Northern Ireland was going through the troubles and there were a lot of riots. Prisoners were on hunger strikes, people looked under their cars for bombs and people were divided into Catholic and Protestant camps.

In the middle of this two homosexuals were found murdered. Sean
Jul 19, 2014 AC rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-mystery
This is quite good. Some really fabulous writing... energy, intense, Duffy is an interesting character - reminds me a little of William Pettersen in To Live and Die in LA, for some reason. Set in Ireland, 1981, in the middle of a war zone... sociopaths abound... Duffy's a catholic homicide detective in an all Proddy police district..., listens to the Ramones, Duffy does...; lots of Irish in the language -- and convincingly -- there's even a short glossary at the back... excellent plot... lots of ...more
Mar 29, 2013 Raven rated it it was amazing
What a great read this was! I absolutely loved McKinty's evocation of life in the 1980's and how he effortlessly wove in the political and social backdrop of not only Ireland at the time, in the grip of political unrest, the tyrannical actions of Thatcher and a general climate of fear but the little additions like the Yorkshire Ripper trial and the impending nuptials of Charles and Diana. I also liked the guest appearance of one Mr G Adams during Duffy's visit to the Maze! I thought the characte ...more
Apr 30, 2016 Carolyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sean Duffy is a young catholic police detective living in the midst of protestants in Carrickfergus, near Belfast in 1981 during the civil disturbance known as The Troubles. Tolerated by his neighbours, he does his best to uphold law and order in the midst of a war zone. When two homosexuals are found murdered he believes he has a case for once not related to the IRA and the current problems but it was never going to be that easy in the current climate of unrest and violence.

Adrian McKinty was h
Nov 26, 2014 Josh rated it it was amazing
Sean Duffy is a cop tasked with solving a serial killer who targets gay men and taunts the police with cryptic messages. Coupled with a seemingly unrelated suicide and heat from above to close the cases (Duffy is yet to solve a murder as we're introduced to him), Duffy is instantly against the odds.

Whilst I'm familiar with author Adrian McKinty's novels, this was my first experience in listening to an audio book and I've got to say I found the experience rather pleasant. Narrator Gerard Doyle is
Hunger strikes in Ireland, Bobby Sands has just died. Princess Di marrying Prince Charles is the rage in England. A young peeler (cop), university educated and bright, is determined to solve what appears to be the murders of two gay men despite "the Troubles" in Northern Ireland. McKinty does an excellent job capturing the era. The book's high spot is its contrast of catholic Sean Duffy, trying to do his job, indulging his youthful sexuality, growing seriousness, and dealing with the violence wh ...more
Sean Duffy is a Catholic cop living in Protestant Belfast during "The Troubles" in the early 1980's. The IRA hunger strikers were the biggest news of the day, and Sean does his best to stay out of trouble himself, checking his car every day for bombs before he heads off to work as a newly promoted Detective Sargent at the Carrickfergus RUC. His first major case in his new job starts with a body found in an abandoned car. The man had been shot in the chest and his right hand had been sawed off. T ...more
Scott Miles
I have mixed feelings on this book, but I am a big believer in actions speaking louder than words, so here are two actions that you should know:

1) I had a hard time putting this book down, and read it in about 4 sessions because it is definitely a page-turner and leaves you wanting more.
2) Within a couple of hours of finishing this book, I ordered the next one in the series

That would indicate that I really liked it, so keep that in mind.

I won't go into the plot much or give away any spoilers. Ju
Jun 23, 2012 Steve rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: A beach read.
The first in a trilogy centered around Sean Duffy. I won’t be reading the next two! A very sad and disappointing piece of work. I have read and generally liked McKinty’s prior works. It centers around two different cases. One was back to back murders of two men who were both homosexual. The other involved a woman who was found hanged and who may or may not have killed herself. I really prefer mysteries and thrillers which are good literature as well. Otherwise, they are nothing but a beach read. ...more
Nick Brett
Feb 25, 2016 Nick Brett rated it really liked it
I recently read the fifth in the Sean Duffy series (Rain Dogs) and enjoyed it to the degree that I knew I was going to have to work my way through them from the start.
The Cold Cold Ground is the first in the series and if anything, I enjoyed it even more than Rain Dogs. Set in a 1981 Belfast that is a powder keg of hunger protests, riots, killings and a community that was unable to live with each-other. Into this comes Sean Duffy, new to his post and faced with a horrific double murder with pote
Jul 16, 2015 Bill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was very pleasantly surprised with this book. It was a most entertaining book. It's a police procedural set during the Troubles in Northern Ireland; the case a series of murders of homosexual men in a country which at the time still had homosexuality in their books as a crime. Throw in an old mystery involving a missing woman and also hunger strikes by prisoners in The Maze and riots and bombings as a normal day-in-the-life and you've got a scary, but very interesting setting for this mystery. ...more
Jan 30, 2014 Carly rated it it was ok
**edited 01/30/14

I wish I were
In Carrickfergus
Where the castle
Looks out to sea...

But take my word for it, in 1981, you'd rather be anywhere else. In the town of Carrickfergus, near Belfast, the Troubles are rampant: IRA terrorists and all sorts of other splinter groups bomb and murder at random, Irish prisoners are dying from hunger fasts, and the public outrage is mounting to the boiling point. It's a really, really bad time to be a Catholic police officer working for the British government, bu
Dec 05, 2011 J.D. rated it it was amazing
In Northern Ireland in 1981, Detective Sean Duffy wryly observes, there aren't a lot of what you'd traditionally think of as "serial killers"; any psychopath who wants to kill a lot of people has only to seek out and join the paramilitary group of his choice, and he'll have all the killing his twisted heart may desire. But when a pair of bizarre murders points to the existence of an honest to goodness serial murderer, Duffy, a Catholic "peeler" in a heavily Protestant area, gets the case.

I've b
Sep 08, 2014 Sara rated it really liked it
Shelves: audio
I think McKinty does a masterful job of constructing his mystery and integrating the historical/cultural elements. While I enjoyed Ratlines by Stuart Neville, I thought it wasn't quite as "tight."

Points (big and small) that I liked:

(1) I like that McDuffy (the main detective) appears to have a sense of humor and not be your stereotypical alcoholic loaner detective that you see in so many books/movies

(2)I loved the mention of the use of ordnance survey maps to help solve crimes

(3) The ending/twis
Mike Gabor
Jun 23, 2014 Mike Gabor rated it really liked it
Shelves: british-mystery
Northern Ireland, 1981. A homophobic serial killer and a young woman's suicide appear unrelated, but things aren't always what they seem. Detective Sergeant Duffy is assigned to investigate and soon finds himself in a no-win situation.

An excellent police procedural set in 1981 Belfast. The main character is DS Sean Duffy, a Catholic in the mostly Protestant police force. He's trying to track down the killer of some gay men but doesn't seem to be getting anywhere and is also looking into the appa
Apr 05, 2016 KerryH rated it really liked it
Shelves: 4-star
Didn't care for some of the language in the sex scenes, but otherwise it was a gripping read. Good to read about a group of detectives who aren't driven solely by personal ambition and actually help each other.

The setting is great, Carrickfergus, Nthn Ireland during The Troubles. 1981. Urban, gritty, life is hard, grim and dangerous. Irish wit, music, craic. Reminds me of early Ian Rankin.
Mar 13, 2016 Leah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime, thriller, 2016
Unlicensed to kill...

It's May 1981, and Northern Ireland is on the brink of a complete breakdown of law and order, possibly even civil war. IRA prisoners in the Maze are on hunger strike, and when the first one dies the streets erupt in violent riots. In the midst of this mayhem, a man is found dead with his hand cut off. At first the police assume the victim was an informer, punished by one or other of the bunches of murderous nutters who held sway in NI at that time. However, when a second bod
Aug 22, 2015 Thomas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Thomas by: GR friends
Shelves: irish-crime
I enjoyed reading this book and give it a solid 4 stars. Sean Duffy is a Catholic police detective in the Northern Ireland RUC(Royal Ulster Constabulary). The RUC is a mostly Protestant force and the IRA has been known to target Catholic RUC officers. Some of his fellow officers are wary of him because he is a Catholic.
It is against this background that Sean is called to the scene of a grisly murder. The victim has been shot dead and 1 hand has been cut off. The investigation reveals that the vi
Julian King
Jan 03, 2015 Julian King rated it it was ok
Adrian McKinty is a man who has drunk of the Pierian spring, and wants us to know it. But, as he might put it, doubtless explicitly mentioning Alexander Pope on the way, this writing well exemplifies that poet's adage that a little learning is a dangerous thing, for what learning there is here is worn, shall we say, rather heavily. I wonder are any of his readers as impressed as McKinty is by his range of reference, from ancient Greek mythology - and even orthography!! - via Cicero to Puccini an ...more
May 07, 2014 Col rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: m, 2014

A Catholic cop tracks a killer operating amidst the sectarian violence of the conflict in Northern Ireland.

Spring 1981. Northern Ireland. Belfast on the verge of outright civil war. The Thatcher government has flooded the area with soldiers but nightly there are riots, bombings, and sectarian attacks.

In the midst of the chaos, Sean Duffy, a young, witty, Catholic detective in the almost entirely Protestant Royal Ulster Constabulary, is trying to track down a serial killer who is
Apr 23, 2016 Maddy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2012-reads
PROTAGONIST: Detective Sean Duffy
SETTING: 1981 Belfast Ireland
RATING: 4.75

1981 in Ireland is a chaotic time. “The Troubles” between the Protestants and Catholics had begun in the 1960s over the constitutional status of Northern Ireland. By the 1980s, it seemed as if the country were in a constant state of warfare. Riots, explosions and sectarian attacks were commonplace. According to Wikipedia, the violence was characterized by the armed campaigns of Irish republican and Ulster loyali
Jason Speck
Jan 25, 2013 Jason Speck rated it it was amazing
Detective Sean Duffy likes things difficult: a Catholic in the overwhelmingly Protestant Royal Ulster Constabulary, he lives in a Protestant neighborhood, checks his car every day for IRA bombs, and walks the high-wire that is 1981 Northern Ireland. When he is put on a case that his supervisor gratefully calls "a normal everyday non-sectarian murder," it appears that Duffy might have something to take his mind away from the ever-present strife of the Troubles. But when both victims appear to be ...more
I am sure that having this book read by an Irishman made it a way better than it actually was.

Sean Duffy is a catholic policeman in a largely protestant force. The discovery of a body in a burnt out car starts what could be Northern Irelands first serial killer investigation.

This book has a great setting in 1981’s Belfast. Several paramilitary groups are causing chaos and the IRA is staging a hunger strike to force changes to the treatment of prisoners.
The story was good but about 75% of the w
This is a complex suspense story with plenty of details that only a local writer could provide. Though initially I was wondering if a "homophobic serial killer" (as the blurb states) in Northern Ireland in the early 1980's was a bit of an anachronism, by the end I was very satisfied, as the author addresses this. The main character, RUC Sergeant Duffy is a Catholic, living in a thoroughly Protestant street, and in a Protestant (mostly) job as a cop in the RUC. He is also a bad boy - at times you ...more
John Martin
Apr 23, 2016 John Martin rated it really liked it
I read the first five books in the Sean Duffy series. Each book helps deepen the character and the writing gets tighter as we go from book to book. Action galore, evocative setting, good stories that dovetail with events at the time. I heard an interview with the author who wanted to kill off the hero in both book three and four, but was dissuaded from doing so. I think this might happen naturally sooner or later anyway. With all the injuries he's incurring on the way, arthritis or infection is ...more
Interesting police procedural which takes place in Northern Ireland during the height of the violence in the early 80's. The protagonist is police officer Sean Duffy, a Catholic in Mostly Protestant Belfast. He is isolated from others. The Catholics don't like him because he's working for the British. The Protestants don't trust him,believing he must secretly support the IRA. (I grew up in Boston during this time and everyone in my Irish Catholic community pretty openly supported the IRA. They a ...more
Mar 27, 2016 Allison rated it did not like it
For anyone who was interested, and I was, McKinty was raised Protestant. As I was reading this book I found myself needing to check McKintys facts all the time something I don't always feel the need to do and it isn’t normally an issue when I read a policier or thriller. There was a studio set, insubstantial feel to the writing, the story and the people moving through the story. A Catholic Policeman in the Protestant RUC, A Catholic Pathologist who has chosen to stay in a sexist sectarian ghetto ...more
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Adrian McKinty is an Irish novelist. He was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland in 1968 and grew up in Victoria Council Estate, Carrickfergus, County Antrim. He read law at the University of Warwick and politics and philosophy at the University of Oxford. He moved to the United States in the early 1990s, living first in Harlem, New York and from 2001 onwards Denver, Colorado where he taught high sch ...more
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Other Books in the Series

Sean Duffy (5 books)
  • I Hear the Sirens in the Street (Detective Sean Duffy, #2)
  • In the Morning I'll be Gone (Detective Sean Duffy, #3)
  • Gun Street Girl (Detective Sean Duffy, #4)
  • Rain Dogs (Detective Sean Duffy, #5)

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