Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Boston Globe Reviews In The Morning I'll Be Gone

My first and hopefully not my last US newspaper review by the brilliant Daneet Steffens in The Boston Globe: 
It’s Belfast, September 1983. Police officer Sean Duffy starts every day — every drive, really — the same way, checking under his car for bombs before setting off to work.
Recently and humiliatingly demoted from detective inspector — officially for breaking some rules, in reality because he’d run spectacularly afoul of the FBI — Duffy is spending most of his downtime lost in a haze of cannabis-and-tobacco smoke and the Galaxian game on his Atari 5200.
Some of that changes when 38 prisoners escape from the notorious Maze prison, including Dermot McCann, Duffy’s old schoolmate who is now a major IRA operative. (Their history includes a pivotal moment in which McCann talked Duffy, then a hot-headed youngster, out of joining the IRA.)

IN THE MORNING I’LL BE GONE

Author:
Adrian McKinty
Publisher:
Seventh Street
Number of pages:
315 pp.
Book price:
$15.95

Duffy is still busy anesthetizing himself with vodka gimlets, Black Bush Irish coffees, and the Velvet Underground, when MI5 pops in with a proposition: temporary reinstatement as detective inspector if he’ll help them track down McCann.
Though he initially balks at the “temporary” aspect, Duffy feels his interest rising: “restoration to the police? To my former rank? To be a detective again? The old thrill was coming back.” It beats drunken brawls and early retirement in Spain.
Adding grist to this thriller’s mill is a four-year-old, locked-room mystery that has Duffy and his colleagues kicking around sparkling and very amusing references to locked-room literary classics; one of the funniest scenes involves a fellow cop adeptly poking theoretical holes in a basic premise of “The Murders in the Rue Morgue.’’
With his Sean Duffy Troubles Trilogy, of which “In the Morning I’ll Be Gone’’ is the third installment, Adrian McKinty places riveting police procedurals in the political context of The Troubles, sharply ratcheting up the tension and fear as depictions of conspiracy, murder, and violence rise up from the page.
But it’s not all grit: McKinty’s novels are also shot through with a smart, crackling humor that manages to be both dark and witty. (Check out a police department’s list of arrested burglars, officially recorded as Michael Mouse, Dick Turpin, and Robin Hood.)
Each book is a solid standalone, but it’s even better to ride the entire trilogy roller coaster with Duffy as your intimate companion. And why not?
He is a rare Catholic on a primarily Protestant police force with an appreciative knowledge of Jim Rockford, Kojak, “Star Trek,’’ and “Doctor Who.’’ Because of his dad’s bird-watching obsession, he knows his eider ducks from his rock doves. He’s a whiz at crossword puzzles — his boss leans on him for clue solutions all the time — is a dab hand at lock-picking, and thanks to his barber, notary public, and neighborhood gossip, Sammy McGuinn, Duffy is hooked on Radio Albania.
Duffy also has discerning taste in music: He’s partial to Arvo Pärt and Pink Floyd, considers Rimsky Korsakov’s “The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh’’ “good head-clearing music,” keeps a Blind Willie Johnson cassette in his car, and loyally tries to find something to like on Robert Plant’s “Principle of Moments.’’
No stranger to violence, Duffy doesn’t suffer fools, but he is always polite to his over-the-fence neighbors, Mrs. Campbell and Mrs. McDowell. He shows his compassionate mettle — indelibly so — during an investigative visit to McCann’s mother and sister, and demonstrates an even softer touch by tracking down a copy of Dr. Spock’s “Baby and Child Care’’ for a terrified father-to-be.
Duffy is far from perfect. “ ‘You’ve got manic depressive tendencies,’ ” an old girlfriend tells him. “ ‘You have alcohol dependency issues. You don’t eat properly or exercise. You smoke too much.’ ”

Maybe so, lady, but you left out the bit where Sean Duffy strikes what balance he can between survival and integrity, the respect he inspires in his colleagues and the fact that he is utterly and pleasurably human. I rest my case.

41 comments:

Alan said...

Adrian,It looks like the journey of a thousand miles has begun with a first step.This should bring some small cheer that your efforts have pleased many as well as satisfying that unique writer's compulsion.Many more I hope will follow.Best Alan

Dana King said...

Hell of a review in a place where a lot of interested eyes should see it. Well done, sir, and let's hope this is the first glimmer of the more general acceptance your writing has deserved for years.

adrian mckinty said...

Alan

I certainly hope so but America is a hard nut to crack.

adrian mckinty said...

Dana

I sure hope its not the last review cos I think there are clearly people out there who wd enjoy these books if given the opportunity to hear about them...

Cary Watson said...

That's the best kind of review: it captures the spirit of the series and it makes the reader feel he's missing something if he doesn't get on board. It's also a review that should shift a lot of stock for you.

adrian mckinty said...

Cary

Its lovely, especially to come in the Globe which in some ways is a hometown newspaper for me... Very bright the Globe readers too, everyone knows that.


Probably the really big break wd be a review or interview in the NYT, but I doubt that that will happen any time soon. The NYT has a very old fashioned view of what Irish Americans want in their fiction, which is ever so slightly condescending...Certainly their books coverage lacks nuance and a contemporary feel when it comes to the Irish fiction and indeed non fiction in their paper...

pax kokomo said...

Nice review. I've just started reading my copy of In the Morning. Reading slow and savoring it since I fear there will be no more Sean Duffy thrillers. Any chance you'll change your mind and write a sequel?

Joe Velisek said...

It's about frickin' time.

CONGRATS!!!

KIKAREN said...

Frank McCourt would be laughing if he could see where you have got to now. Its taken a few years, though. But you haven’t bent to the ‘market’. So are you gonna review my book, Adrian? Doesnt have to be epic; just say something nice . . . like, ‘pretty good’.

lil Gluckstern said...

Who knows what other paper will discover you. I'm happy for you on this one. BTW, I belong to a Yahoo group called 4MA-mystery addicts, and they discussed Cold Cold Ground. Everybody raved and wanted more Duffy. Most had read all three books, and all wanted more. This is a forum read by both Authors and readers, and attracts folks with very eclectic tastes. In your spare time :) you might check it out to read the discussion.

adrian mckinty said...

Pax

If the next couple of books fail miserably there will definitely be another Sean Duffy. If however they dont...

adrian mckinty said...

Joe

Thanks mate!

adrian mckinty said...

Kikaren

I'll try and get to it. I'm snowed under with work work and reviewing work, but I'll try.

At the very least I can plug you:

Here's the listing for Kikaren's debut novel:

http://www.amazon.com/Riccarton-Junction-Volume-Scott-Beaven/dp/1493571427/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1395266682&sr=8-1&keywords=riccarton+junction

I assume thats a pen name or maybe Kikaren is the pen name?

adrian mckinty said...

Lil

I certainly shall. I'm a bit of a mystery addict myself (obviously!!) so it sounds like a good place for me to get some book and audiobook reading/listening ideas...

Anonymous said...

I'm so pleased to see the good review and the increasing notice of your great work. I suppose it's partly because you richly deserve it, but it's mostly because I selfishly hope you'll keep at it. And I hope Gerard Doyle keeps reading them. Your books and his performances of them have become one of my favorite things.

adrian mckinty said...

Anon

thanks for that!

I'm really hoping Doyle will read my next book... I havent heard from the powers that be but I have asked for him.

I'm also hoping they get him for the Belfast Noir audio. Again this is out of my control but I have asked for him...

KIKAREN said...

Adrian. That's great thanks.Glad to hear you are snowed under.

Rabbitmeow said...

Hello Adrian,
I am a new reader to your books, just started the audiobook Cold, Cold Ground yesterday. I already love the characters and style of your writing. I think the audiobook narrator also does an excellent job and he's easy to listen to.
This morning I stumbled across your blog when I was looking for a list of your other works. I'm also excited to hear that you are editing a Belfast Noir, I've read Portland Noir, Seattle Noir, and Long Island Noir, each enjoyable in their own sense. But, I'm particularly excited for the Belfast Noir if the writers are anything like you and Tana French, my first Irish author experience. I love her novels and she hasn't released one in a bit, so I'm glad to see you have quite a few for my Irish novelist fix. :-)
Thank you for writing!
Sandra
-Idaho, USA

Liam Hassan said...

Great review Adrian - I can understand what you mean by America being a tough nut to crack. But things have moved on - did you not find it the case growing up that "Irish" writers meant people got lumped in with Beckett, Behan and Joyce regardless of genre. At least people, even outside Ireland, see that Irish crime writing is a genre (for want of a better word) in itself? I m surprised there have nt been more reviews of your stuff in the US, given the number of positive write ups I ve seen in the British press?

adrian mckinty said...

Rabbit

Thank you so much for your kind words about the books, they are much appreciated.

I'm glad you're liking Duffy.

We did ask Tana to be part of Belfast Noir but she felt that her Belfast connection wasn't strong enough to contribute an authentic story which is fair enough. We do have five terrific female writers though. And its a great volume!

adrian mckinty said...

Liam

Things are a little better than 10 years ago when Irish Americans only read dead Irish writers. But I dont they're that much better to be honest. The success of John Banville 's Benjamin Black novels in the US tells you a lot about the palate of the readership. Benjamin Black is what the punters what. God help them.

Liam Hassan said...

Never read them- but I see they ve now been made into a tv series with Gabriel Byrne. Seems the books that shift units are the ones made into tv. So - for Duffy, pity adrian Dunbar is a bit old!

adrian mckinty said...

Liam

Havent seen the TV series either. I love Gabriel Byrne though so I bet he sells it.

The books are really really cheesy, but you've got to give Banville credit...He's been very cynical and intelligent about the whole business: he's said quite openly that he despises the crime fiction genre and only wrote this series to make money. He analysed the US market, saw the sort of things that elderly Irish Americans, Anglophiles and Mickophiles wanted and then wrote accordingly. Its not how I do things or indeed how people with a soul do things but its worked in spades for him. Banville's always been a short man in search of a balcony and it looks like he's finally found his balcony.

Liam Hassan said...

In fairness, Gabriel Byrne adds a bit of class to most things.

I remember Banville making those comments about crime fiction. Would nt buy the books because of them. I remember your piece in the Guardian from a while back about crime fiction being the new punk - Especially to snobs like Banville.

I mentioned Adrian Dunbar as he was in a TV series over here about corrupt coppers called line of duty. He was brilliant in it - a much underrated Norn iron actor.

adrian mckinty said...

Liam

I'll probably end up watching it just for Byrne and end up loving it.

Peter Rozovsky said...

I saw all three books today at eye level in a Barnes & Noble. Looks like they might be getting a bit more display than they did before.

adrian mckinty said...

Peter

Really? Well thats a first...

I sometimes feel that I complain too much. As Kohleth says:

Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest...

which is a good point.

Peter Rozovsky said...

I was telling myself that just the other day.

Yep, the books made a nice display, with the coordinated spines.

adrian mckinty said...

Peter

Wait, they were edge out, not face out?

Darn.

As a 2 year veteran of B&N I can vouchsafe that the only books which ever sell to a browsing customer are face outs.

Peter Rozovsky said...

Oops, that was a gaffe. Yes ,they were spine out, in the mystery section, not on a special table.

I browse spines. I figure if the book is facing out, I won't like it. OK, I bought an out-facer tonight, but I usually do not do so.

John Halbrook said...

Just gave up a rave for "In the Morning I'll be Gone" on the Audible site. I just started listening yesterday and couldn't help myself, had to finish it today. Good on ya!

adrian mckinty said...

Peter

I browse spines too but you're not specialist punter generally doesnt...at least from my experience they dont.

adrian mckinty said...

John

It is VERY much appreciated. Some very nice reviews over there on Audible at the moment. Of course Doyle likes to taunt me that his ratings are always higher than mine...the cheeky bugger.

AD Cherson said...

Even Einstein made mistakes. There are numerous causes and combinations of causes that may bring about extinctions, only some of which are remotely within our control. We should only worry about the things we can do something about and have faith in the rest.

Anonymous said...

I have read the Troubles Trilogy and am hoping for a follow through with Sean Duffy. I am a 68 year old woman from Oklahoma. the violence and cultural horrors are hard for me to stomach. But the writing and stories are so brilliant, I will get over it and on with it. I am also a huge fan of James Lee Burke, but again can't handle the social harshness. Your writing is right up there with him. thank you for such great fiction.

adrian mckinty said...

Anon

thank you for that, esp since I am a fan of James Lee Burke!

I dont know if there will be more Duffys or not. If the next few books dont do well then probably we'll see Duffy again!

Anonymous said...

Over here, in America, we are perfectly happy with your books. I wanted to mention something though. If you go onto the US- Amazon.com and search this: in the morning i'll be gone ... your book does not show up. if the search bar starts to autofill and asks you for books, music, etc... that might take you there. But I am surprised that just typing those words does not bring the book up. Maybe this explains why the Americans aren't finding out about these books as quickly as they should be. Worth investigating?

Anonymous said...

the search on amazon works now. Duffy must've got at it!

JQ said...

I read this review when it appeared in the Boston Globe. I've lived in the US (various cities) for 30 years and am originally from Ireland and go back several times each year. I'm an avid reader, mainly of nonfiction (I'm an academic) but sometimes read the occasional crime novel (anything George Pelecanos writes!). The review prompted me to read the first novel in the trilogy. I'm starting the third today -- You are an outstanding author who is able to weave incredible stories around significant periods in our checkered history. I feel incredibly fortunate to have had these books brought to my attention and have truly enjoyed meeting and getting to know Sean Duffy.

adrian mckinty said...

JQ

Thank you for that. Your words are very much appreciated!!!!!!!!

JQ said...

Just as an addendum. I tried to purchase a copy of In the Morning I'll be Gone last week in Harvard Square. Neither of the two major booksellers -- Harvard University's Co-Op or the independent Harvard Book Store had a copy. Sounds like the marketing and distribution end could also do a bit more to promote these books.