Rain Dogs by Adrian McKinty – Audible Book Review by Pat V.
Rain Dogs is McKinty’s 5th novel featuring Sean Duffy, a Catholic D.I. working with the RUC in Carrickfergus in the 1980s. The setting could make for grim reading, given the political situation at the time, but in McKinty’s case it is quite the opposite. His books are engaging, witty and written with a deft ironic touch. Though the Troubles sometimes form the background to his investigations, Duffy is primarily a policeman dealing with criminal, not political, cases who has to navigate his way through the complicated religious and paramilitary morass that made up society in Northern Ireland at that time.
This story begins in 1987 in Belfast where Duffy is on riot duty during a visit by Muhammad Ali and Reverend Jesse Jackson who have come to promote a peace initiative. They are greeted by a small number of protest groups “National Front skinheads yelling abuse” and “Reverend Ian Paisley’s elderly band of evangelical parishioners far down on Royal Avenue, who were not happy about the appearance of a famous Muslim spokesman in the capital city of Ulster, God’s true Promised Land. They could be heard singing their discontent in dour Presbyterian hymnals and determinedly joyless psalmody.” But most of the spectators, including Duffy who has specifically asked to come on this assignment, and Bono (yes, that Bono) “like an eager schoolboy in Cuban heels”, are totally taken by Ali who “could have run for mayor on a Nation of Islam ticket and won on a first-round voice vote of the council”
On his return to Carrickfergus, Duffy is called to the scene of a minor crime and during the course of his investigation meets British journalist, Lily Bigelow. Soon afterwards she is found dead in the courtyard of Carrickfergus castle in what appears to be suicide. However some aspects of the case bother Duffy and when he finds out that she was working on a devastating exposé of corruption and child abuse at the highest levels of power in the UK and beyond, he is determined to discover the full facts. As in many of McKinty’s other novels, real public figures and actual events play a key role in this book. The paedophile ring that centred on the Kincora Boys’ Home and Jimmy Savile’s role in the scandal form part of Duffy’s investigation and the difficulties he encounters in exposing the full facts rings true to us today.
For those already familiar with McKinty’s books, this one does not disappoint. His writing is as fresh and crisp as ever and his ironic take on events keeps us entertained though he never sugar-coats the awfulness of some of the situations he describes. In D.I. Duffy he has created a character who maintains our interest and sympathy throughout. If you have not read McKinty yet, he is a writer you should definitely explore. Apart from the Sean Duffy series, he has written a trilogy featuring anti-hero, Michael Forsythe, who works as an enforcer for the Irish mafia in the States and a number of stand-alone novels.
Gerard Doyle is an excellent choice as reader of this and the other four Sean Duffy novels (in fact 11 other works by McKinty are also available from Audible read by him). His wry delivery and often humorous tone perfectly suit the author and all of McKinty’s novels work very well as talking books.
Rain Dogs is available from audible.co.uk and lasts 10h22