A torso in a suitcase looks like an impossible case, but Sean Duffy isn’t easily deterred, especially when his floundering love life leaves him in need of a distraction. So with Detective Constables McCrabban and McBride, he goes to work identifying the victim. The torso turns out to be all that’s left of an American tourist who once served in the US military. What was he doing in Northern Ireland in the midst of the 1982 Troubles? The trail leads to the doorstep of a beautiful, flame-haired, twentysomething widow, whose husband died at the hands of an IRA assassination team just a few months before. Suddenly Duffy is caught between his romantic instincts, gross professional misconduct, and powerful men he should know better than to mess with. These include British intelligence, the FBI, and local paramilitary death squads—enough to keep even the savviest detective busy. Duffy’s growing sense of self-doubt isn’t helping. But as a legendarily stubborn man, he doesn’t let that stop him from pursuing the case to its explosive conclusion.
Set in 1982, McKinty's uneven second outing for Belfast Det. Sgt. Sean Duffy shifts focus away from the IRA enforcers of the first installment, 2012's The Cold Cold Ground, toward Northern Ireland's Anglo-Protestant elite. While war rages in the Falklands, the brash, intelligent Duffy chases down cold leads after Irish-American tourist Bill O'Rourke turns up dismembered in a suitcase that just happened to belong to a Loyalist farmer, Martin McAlpine, a member of the landed gentry assassinated by the IRA. The only progress he makes is with Martin's beautiful young widow, Emma, while the only hope for the depressed country as a whole may rest with real-life high-flying American automaker John DeLorean. Punchy, pop culture tinged prose and a charismatic hero help offset Duffy's slowly developing case, which fails to pick up any real momentum.