The Detective Up Late by Adrian McKinty [8/10]

We feared he would never return, DI Sean Duffy, a rare Catholic cop among Protestants in Belfast at the height of the Troubles, a canny policeman with a passion for justice and a love of culture and an ever-ready quip. After the sixth book in the series, 2017’s Police at the Station and They Don’t Look Friendly (the book titles all come from Tom Waits lyrics), the author went mainstream with back-to-back standalone thrillers that put Duffy in the shade. But a memorable character like Sean is hard to keep down, and The Detective Up Late is a scintillating return to our bookshelves. As the 1980s, fraught indeed for Duffy, move into 1990, our hero is partly moving to Scotland but what keeps him pushing in Ireland is the disappearance of a fifteen-year-old traveler girl. No one is interested, bar Duffy of course, and the book patiently builds up steam as he methodically and brilliantly dissects her final days in pursuit of a killer. The author is a superb, rhythmic stylist, the plot steamrolls on, and the window into Ireland is beguiling. The Detective Up Late is a cracker of a crime novel, sure to win awards.

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