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The Cold Cold Ground

(Detective Sean Duffy #1)

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  8,613 ratings  ·  1,113 reviews
Audio CD is 10 hours and 3 minutes long.

Northern Ireland, spring 1981. Hunger strikes, riots, power cuts, a homophobic serial killer with a penchant for opera, and a young woman's suicide that may yet turn out to be murder: on the surface, the events are unconnected, but then things--and people--aren't always what they seem. Detective Sergeant Duffy is the man tasked with
Audio CD, 11 pages
Published January 3rd 2012 by Blackstone Audiobooks (first published 2012)
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Martha Since Sean Duffy does not really care about his religion unless it affects him by being called a "fenian" I would not say that the Fact that McKinty i…moreSince Sean Duffy does not really care about his religion unless it affects him by being called a "fenian" I would not say that the Fact that McKinty is not Catholic himself really takes away any of the credibility. I also think that McKinty wanted Duffy to be a outsider with a more neutral point of view. He does not really care about politics, he only shares information with the reader, never really taking one side or the other.(less)

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Average rating 3.93  · 
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Jul 25, 2015 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
Apr 09, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 5000-2020
This is a tricky one! The book held my interest throughout. It was fast paced and had lots of action. It was a little over the top from time to time, but that adds to the impact of the story. The background of Ireland during the troubles provided great atmosphere.

But the use of yet another damaged but supposedly brilliant main character did not work for me. Detective Sean Duffy is certainly a smart and charming young man but he had one too many flaws to make me feel enthusiastic about him.

I wil
James Thane
Apr 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
The Cold Cold Ground introduces Sean Duffy, a Catholic police sergeant in the Royal Ulster Constabulary. As a Catholic who joined the mostly Protestant police force, Duffy is essentially under suspicion--and threat--from both sides in the long-running "Troubles" pitting Catholics and Protestants against each other in Northern Ireland.

The story is set at the height of the Troubles, in 1981. IRA prisoners are engaged in a hunger strike in protest to recent actions of the hated British government,
Oct 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audio

There’s nothing better than a mystery that not only has a good tale to tell, but immerses you in a different time and/or place. Here, McKinty takes us to Northern Ireland during 1981, the height of the Troubles. While most of the Constabulary are trying to keep the peace, Sean Duffy is investigating a series of murders. It quickly becomes apparent that these are not the typical retribution murders, but the work of a homophobic serial killer with a penchant for opera.

Sean Duffy is a great main c
Sandy *The world could end while I was reading and I would never notice*
EXCERPT: I shone my flashlight and then I saw her.

She was fully clothed, hanging under the limb of an oak tree. She had set up the noose, put her head in it, stepped off a tree stump and then regretted it.

Almost every person who hanged themselves did it wrong.

The noose is supposed to break your neck, not choke you to death.

Lucy had tried desperately to claw through the rope, had even managed to get a finger between the rope and her throat. It hadn't done any good.

She was blue. Her left eye
Sep 05, 2014 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
Oct 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery-suspense
This is the first in what seems like a promising series set in Northern Ireland during the late 80s. The story grabbed my attention from the start, but it is not the mystery which makes this book stand out. I am a very character-driven reader, and Sean Duffy is a good one. He is flawed, but capable, interesting without seeming contrived and I will be curious to see how his story continues. Recommended!

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Nov 28, 2012 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
Jun 10, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A feeling of been there, done that permeates the book. Smart Alec cop, gritty setting, action packed mystery; McKinty knows his cliches but does not rise above them. I was recently reading another contemporary UK author - Abir Mukherjee. Both write gritty crime tales in a historical setting. Their worlds bubble with an authenticity that deserves all the accolades they get. But their protagonists seem like discarded drafts from better crime writers.

Sean Duffy, a Catholic cop in Northern Ireland i
 Li'l Owl
This book is the first in the
Detective Sean Duffy Series And
Book One of The Troubles Trilogy.

First, a bit of history. This is just for those of you who did not do well in high school history class like myself (to say the least). However, I believe that you're never to old to learn, and for that alone I enjoyed this book very much. I definitely got a crash course about the times of Northern Ireland's "Troubles" during 1968-1998. I researched this on Google and found one site that explains it su
Feb 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Why haven't I discovered Adrian McKinty before 2017!!!!

He nails it in this book
The setting and the whole nine yards.

The reader is transported to the Irish Troubles. To Belfast of 1981. The Librarian told me when I checked this book out that a few of the guys who took this book said that what they lived through in Ireland back the is almost the same atmosphere in the book.

An killer who enjoys listening opera, the classic languages and is killing homosexuals. Homosexuality was a crime in Northern
May 23, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars

This was my first time reading this author and I really enjoyed the book. I was 15 in 1981 (when this book was set) and remember the hunger strikes and the Troubles very well during this period. In fact, at that stage of my life I had never travelled to Northern Ireland. I eventually made it to Belfast and other parts of Northern Ireland in 2013, 32 years later.

Sean Duffy, is a Catholic police officer in the RUC (Royal Ulster Constabulary), not something you would see everyday in 1980s
Jan 28, 2013 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
Jan 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Really it's more like 4.5 stars.

The Cold Cold Ground is the first book of what has now become a series revolving around Detective Sean Duffy a Catholic cop in the middle of the protestant end of Ireland in the 1980s. Not a good place to stay alive so it's a good thing they have Duffy, a sharp, educated "peeler" who is as tenacious as a bulldog. Duffy is a combination of Harry Bosch (in his younger days) and Harry Hole with his own brand of justice. I stayed up all night reading this one and I t
Manuel Antão
Apr 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013
My first Adrian McKinty book (and it won't be my last).

McKinty is a stylist and his protagonist often muses on the ironies and complexities of human existence. It is both beautiful and astonishingly well grounded in history.

What this book does better than anything else is show how complicated life in that time (1981), in that place (Northern Ireland)could be. How the politics of power, hate and influence played themselves out, how a copper in a small town could hang on and try to make a differen
Sonja Arlow
3.5 stars

The time and place of this story was almost more interesting to me than the actual story. This is Ireland in the turbulent early 1980’s, with the IRA, riots, hunger strikes, Margaret Thatcher and young children learning how to make Molotov cocktails before school.

It’s a scary time to be a peeler (cop) in Ireland, you better check the underside of your car every morning to make sure the IRA has not left you a surprise in the form of a car bomb.

And the main character Sean Duffy is not th
Mar 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Brenda by: Carolyn
Detective Sean Duffy had only been in Carrickfergus near Belfast for around two weeks, and already the hostilities and murders were in his face. It was 1981 and the Troubles were in full swing. Amidst the hunger strikes where already one person had died, the murder of two homosexuals seemed to branch off in a different direction for Duffy and his small team. But their investigation hit a brick wall at every turn.

When a missing girl turned up dead, Duffy wondered if there was any link. The viole
Jul 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-fiction
I absolutely loved this great crime thriller. Duffy possesses all the traits that I require in a detective: he's whip-smart and intuitive, with great taste in music. McKinty's terrific snarky dialogue frequently made me laugh aloud. The last thing I needed at this time in my life was to start a new series, but you'd better believe I'm gonna read this one to the finish.
Marty Fried
Dec 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery, audiobooks
This was a good starter for a new to me series; well done, and well developed. The characters are mostly likable and real. The times are during "the troubles" in Ireland in 1981, a time I really know very little about, so it's an interesting setting.

The story was good, and stayed interesting throughout. There was a little humour mixed in, but not overdone or silly. I plan to read the second one right away to see how it holds up.

If you like music, he talks about what music they listen to a lot, p
May 06, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, suspense
We drank our whiskeys. It was the good stuff and it tasted of salt, sea, rain, wind and the Old Testament.

3.5 stars. I've been looking for something to fill in for my Tana French addiction until her next novel, and this book was recommended. I can see why, although there are also a lot of differences. The 80's Ireland setting in TCCG is fascinating, and I loved how this context formed such a big part of the story. I know very little about The Troubles and this was a great introduction. The plot
May 31, 2012 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
Kylie H
Oct 22, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime
My opinion of this book may not be popular, but I think my expectations may have been very high. In terms of the character and storyline it was all a bit take it or leave it for me. I was not very fond of Sean Duffy and the way he went about his business, and I found the outcome of the story somewhat underwhelming.
The saving grace for me was the era and the setting. 1980 Belfast which was a war zone.The height of the IRA, UVF, UDF, Sinn Fein and so forth. It is now gobsmacking to think this all
Alex Cantone
We signed out a Land Rover and drove up the Shore Road…the rain was heavy, the traffic light. We drove past a fresh bombsite that was, with ruthless efficiency, being bulldozed into a car park. Soon Belfast would be the only city in the world with more parking spaces than cars.

Britain, 1981. A public enthralled by the upcoming nuptials of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer. The horse Shergar the favourite to win the Derby, while overseas, an assassination attempt on Pope John-Paul II - all ov
Susan Johnson
Jan 12, 2014 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
Sep 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is my first McKinty crime novel and it will certainly not be my last. The man can write! [Winner of the Edgar Award in the U.S. and the Ned Kelly in Ireland.] This offering takes place in 1981 Northern Ireland through the eyes of Detective Sargeant Sean Duffy. McKinty peppers his tale with historical nuggets that transport the reader to the time of the Troubles when it was a powder keg. Bobby Sands has died in prison due to his hunger strike. There are frequent bombings and the Royal Ulster ...more
Aug 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I am glad I had marked this book to revisit. Sometimes it happens like that when one is not in a receptive mood for a particular kind of book. I found this second try at it very rewarding. It goes back to the late 1980's in Belfast region and features a policeman who is dogged in his approach to solve murders and is decidedly self directed even when not supported by those in charge, following his beliefs at all costs.
I had some challenges reading the format available from my library and this is
Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede
Dual review with Swedish first and then English!


Kall, kall jord tar oss tillbaka till 80-talets Nordirland. Ett land med stora religiösa motsättningar och där det just nu pågår en hungerstrejk i fängelset i Belfast, där fångarna kräver bättre villkor. Mitt i allt detta hittas en man mördad och det blir upp till kriminalinspektör Sean Duffy att försöka finna ut vem gärningsmannen är. När sedan en annan man hittas mördad med tydliga kopplingar till den första kroppen blir oron at
Jun 13, 2015 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
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
Jan 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, crime
I very much enjoyed this detective novel. All the elements of the genre are done well here. Cop who doesn’t fit in, convoluted set of grisly murders, sexy pathologist ( all pathologists are either sexy young women or grumpy old men - it’s just the way they roll) and red herrings galore. What made this so enjoyable for me is that the author does an incredibly good job of depicting Northern Ireland in the early 80s and the dialogue is snappy fun.
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Adrian McKinty is an Irish novelist. He was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, 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 on, in Denver, Colorado, where he taught high school Eng ...more

Other books in the series

Detective Sean Duffy (8 books)
  • I Hear the Sirens in the Street (Detective Sean Duffy #2)
  • In the Morning I'll be Gone (Sean Duffy #3)
  • Gun Street Girl (Detective Sean Duffy, #4)
  • Rain Dogs (Detective Sean Duffy, #5)
  • Police at the Station and They Don't Look Friendly (Detective Sean Duffy #6)
  • The detective up late
  • Alter Hund, neue Tricks (Detective Sean Duffy, #8)

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