The second in the author’s Troubles Trilogy, focusing on the 1982 Northern Ireland war zone.
Belfast DI Sean Duffy never gets in his car without checking first to see if the Irish Republican Army has rigged a bomb to its undercarriage or the Ulster Defence Regiment is standing nearby ready to lob Molotov cocktails through the windshield. Nobody is really safe in Belfast these days, and he and DC McCrabban have had their share of run-ins with both sides. When a bloody trail leads to a locked suitcase tossed in a trash bin, they open it to find a decapitated torso with a partially obliterated tattoo. The autopsy indicates that the victim was poisoned, frozen and chopped up, and the toxin was Albrin, a rare tropical concoction never before seen in the U.K. but recorded as being used three times in the U.S. by husbands eliminating their womenfolk. Was this a tourist? The tattoo identifies him as a veteran of the U.S. military, and cagey consulate and FBI sources identify him as William O’Rourke, a one-time Internal Revenue Service member who’s been visiting Ireland looking for his roots. The suitcase he was found in leads Duffy to the isolated home of Martin McAlpine, supposedly an IRA victim months back, although the investigation into his death was slipshod. The duffer who handled it turns up dead, while McAlpine’s well-connected older brother Sir Harry tries to stop Duffy’s inquiries. He’s not the only one. The Secret Service, the Brits and the FBI all seem to have a stake in a coverup, and Duffy also manages to antagonize John DeLorean, who’s battling local economic doldrums by employing 3,000 Ulstermen in his Northern Ireland car factory. Ordered to stand down, Duffy ignores his higher-ups, flies to Boston, where he’s almost killed, then returns to confront a firebombing and a demotion.
Like The Cold Cold Ground (2012), a gruesomely accurate portrayal of ’80s life in Ireland and a searing indictment of political trade-offs, religious intemperance and morally corrupt businessmen.