Gun Street Girl

Adrian McKinty's (In the Morning I'll Be Gone) remarkably clever new police procedural, Gun Street Girl, takes place in Belfast during the "Troubles." It's 1985, and Unionists and Nationalists are constantly fighting, making it a dangerous time to be a member of the Royal Ulster Constabulary Force (RUC), especially for Detective Sean Duffy, the only Catholic on the mostly Unionist force. Duffy is a contradictory man: a savvy detective, a nice neighbor and a good cop, who occasionally can't resist nailing a line of coke "so pure it was like being yelled at by God."

The RUC is investigating the murders of a rich couple, apparently shot by their son before he jumped off a cliff. Duffy isn't convinced that Michael Kelly's death was a suicide, but his work on the case is repeatedly interrupted by bomb threats and attacks from both Catholic and Protestant sides, forcing the "peelers" to stop investigating in order to work the riot lines. Being an officer in a war zone is always a tricky business, but it gets even stranger for Duffy when MI5 and a mysterious American agent with a fake identity get involved in the RUC's inquiry.

Written in a darkly funny, laconic style, Gun Street Girl is riveting. The noir ambiance is irresistible, and the Belfast setting is disturbingly vivid, a reminder of how dangerous Northern Ireland was recently. Fourth in a series, Gun Street Girl is sure to inspire readers to go back and catch up on more of McKinty's superb writing. --Jessica Howard, blogger at Quirky Bookworm

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