I Hear the Sirens in the Street


The Cold Cold Ground
is a razor sharp thriller set against the backdrop of a country in chaos, told with style, courage and dark-as-night wit. Adrian McKinty channels Dennis Lehane, David Peace and Joseph Wambaugh to create a brilliant novel with its own unique voice” Stuart Neville

“It's undoubtedly McKinty's finest … Written with intelligence, insight and wit, McKinty exposes the cancer of corruption at all levels of society at that time. Sean Duffy is a compelling detective, the evocation of 1980s Northern Ireland is breathtaking and the atmosphere authentically menacing. A brilliant piece of work which does for NI what Peace's
Red Riding Quartet
did for Yorkshire” Brian McGilloway

“The setting represents an extraordinarily tense scenario in itself, but the fact that Duffy is a Catholic in a predominantly Protestant RUC adds yet another fascinating twist to McKinty's neatly crafted plot … a masterpiece of Troubles crime fiction: had David Peace, Eoin McNamee and Brian Moore sat down to brew up the great Troubles novel, they would have been very pleased indeed to have written
The Cold Cold Ground
” Declan Burke,
Irish Times

The Cold Cold Ground
is a fearless trip into Northern Ireland in the 1980s: riots, hunger strikes, murders – yet Adrian McKinty tells a very personal story of an ordinary cop trying to hunt down a serial killer” John McFetridge

The Cold Cold Ground
has got onto my five best books of the year list as it is riveting, brilliant and just about the best book yet on Northern Ireland” Ken Bruen

The Cold Cold Ground
confirms McKinty as a writer of substance … The names of David Peace and Ellroy are evoked too often in relation to young crime writers, but McKinty shares their method of using the past as a template for the present. The stories and textures may belong to a different period, but the power of technique and intent makes of them the here and now … There's food for thought in McKinty's writing …
The Cold Cold Ground
is a crime novel, fast-paced, intricate and genre to the core” Eoin McNamee,

“Adrian McKinty is the voice of the new Northern Irish generation but he's not afraid to examine the past. This writer is a legend in the making and
The Cold Cold Ground
is the latest proof of this” Gerard Brennan

“Detective Sergeant Sean Duffy could well become a cult figure … McKinty has not lost his touch or his eye for the bizarre and the macabre, or his ear for the Belfast accent and argot … McKinty creates a marvellous sense of time and place … he manages to catch the brooding atmosphere of the 1980s and to tell a ripping yarn at the same time … There will be many readers waiting for the next adventure of the dashing and intrepid Sergeant Duffy” Maurice Hayes,
Irish Independent

“McKinty [has] a razor-sharp ear for the local dialogue and a feeling for the bleak time and place that was Ulster in the early 80s, and pairs them with a wry wicked wit … If Raymond Chandler had grown up in Northern Ireland,
The Cold Cold Ground
is what he would have written” Peter Millar,
The Times

“Adrian McKinty is fast gaining a reputation as the finest of the new generation of Irish crime writers, and it's easy to see why on the evidence of this novel, the first in a projected trilogy of police procedurals. At times
The Cold Cold Ground
has the feel of James Ellroy, the prose is that focused and intense, but then there are moments of darkest humour, with just a hint of the retro feel of
Life On Mars
thrown in” Doug Johnstone,

Works by Adrian McKinty published by Serpent's Tail

The Dead Trilogy

Dead I Well May Be

The Dead Yard

The Bloomsday Dead

Fifty Grand

Falling Glass

The Sean Duffy thrillers

The Cold Cold Ground

I Hear the Sirens in the Street

I Hear the Sirens in the Street

Adrian McKinty

“A Sweet Little Bullet from A Pretty Blue Gun”, Thomas Waits © copyright Mushroom Music Pty Ltd on behalf of BMG Gold Songs/Six Palms Music Corporation. All print rights for Australia and New Zealand administered by Sasha Music Publishing, a division of All Music Publishing & Distribution Pty Ltd ACN 147 390 814.
. Used by Permission. All Rights Reserved. Unauthorised Reproduction is illegal.

A complete catalogue record for this book can be obtained from the British Library on request

The right of Adrian McKinty to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988

Copyright © 2013 Adrian McKinty

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the publisher.

First published in 2013 by Serpent's Tail,
an imprint of Profile Books Ltd

3A Exmouth House

Pine Street

London EC1R 0JH


ISBN 978 1 84668 818 8

eISBN 978 1 84765 929 3

Designed and typeset by Crow Books

Printed and bound in Great Britain by Clays, Bungay, Suffolk

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

: Wait a minute, Doc. Are you telling me that you built a time machine … out of a DeLorean?

: The way I see it, if you're gonna build a time machine into a car, why not do it with some style?

Robert Zemeckis & Bob Gale,
Back to the

Now I lay me down to sleep

I hear the sirens in the street

All my dreams are made of chrome

I have no way to get back home

Tom Waits, “A Sweet Little Bullet

From A Pretty Blue Gun” (1978)


The abandoned factory was a movie trailer from an entropic future when all the world would look like this. From a time without the means to repair corrugation or combustion engines or vacuum tubes. From a planet of rust and candle power. Guano coated the walls. Mildewed garbage lay in heaps. Strange machinery littered a floor which, with its layer of leaves, oil and broken glass was reminiscent of the dark understory of a rainforest. The melody in my head was a descending ten-on-one ostinato, a pastiche of the second of Chopin's études; I couldn't place it but I knew that it was famous and that once the shooting stopped it would come to me in an instant.

The shotgun blast had sent the birds into a frenzy and as we ran for cover behind a half disassembled steam turbine we watched the rock doves careen off the ceiling, sending a fine shower of white asbestos particles down towards us like the snow of a nuclear winter.

The shotgun reported again and a window smashed twenty feet to our left. The security guard's aim was no better than his common sense.

We made it to safety behind the turbine's thick stainless steel fans and watched the pigeons loop in decreasing circles above our heads. A superstitious man would have divined ill-omened auguries in their melancholy flight but fortunately my partner, Detective Constable McCrabban, was made of sterner stuff.

“Would you stop shooting, you bloody eejit! We are the police!” he yelled before I even had the chance to catch my breath.

There was an impressive dissonance as the last of the shotgun's echo died away, and then an even more impressive silence.

Asbestos was coating my leather jacket and I pulled my black polo neck sweater over my mouth.

The pigeons began to settle.

Wind made the girders creek.

A distant bell was ringing.

It was like being in a symphony by Arvo Pärt. But he wasn't the composer of the melody still playing between my ears. Who was that now? Somebody French.

Another shotgun blast.

The security guard had taken the time to reload and was determined to have more fun.

“Stop shooting!” McCrabban demanded again.

“Get out of here!” a voice replied. “I've had enough of you hoodlums!”

It was a venerable voice, from another Ireland, from the '30s or even earlier, but age gave it no weight or assurance – only a frail, impatient, dangerous doubt.

This, every copper knew, was how it would end, not fighting the good fight but in a random bombing or a police chase gone wrong or shot by a half senile security guard in a derelict factory in north Belfast. It was April 1st. Not a good day to die.

“We're the police!” McCrabban insisted.

“The what?”

“The police!”

“I'll call the police!”

the police!”

“You are?”

I lit a cigarette, sat down and leaned against the outer shell of the big turbine.

This room in fact was one enormous turbine hall. A huge space built for the generation of electricity because the engineers who'd constructed the textile factory had decided that autarchy was the best policy when dealing with Northern Ireland's inadequate and dodgy power supplies. I would like to have to seen this place in its heyday, when light was pouring in through the clear windows and the cathedral of turbines was humming at maximum rev. This whole factory must have been some scene with its cooling towers and its chemical presses and its white-coated alchemist employees who knew the secret of turning petroleum into clothes.

But not any more. No textiles, no workers, no product. And it would never come back. Heavy manufacturing in Ireland had always been tentative at best and had fled the island just as rapidly as it had arrived.

“If you're the police how come you're not in uniform?” the security guard demanded.

“We're detectives! Plain-clothes detectives. And listen, mate, you're in a lot of trouble. You better put down that bloody gun,” I yelled.

“Who's going to make me?” the security guard asked.

“We are!” McCrabban shouted.

“Oh, aye?” he yelled back. “You and whose army?”

“The bloody British Army!” McCrabban and I yelled together.

A minute of parley and the security guard agreed that perhaps he had been a bit hasty. Crabbie, who'd recently become a father of twin boys, was seething and I could tell he was for throwing the book at him but the guard was an old geezer with watery eyes in a blue polyester uniform that perhaps presaged our own post-peeler careers. “Let's cut him a break,” I said. “It will only mean paperwork.”

“If you say so,” Crabbie reluctantly agreed.

The security guard introduced himself as Martin Barry and we told him that we had come here to investigate a blood trail
that had been discovered by the night watchman.

“Oh, that? I saw that on my walk around. I didn't think too much about it,” Mr Barry said. He looked as if he hadn't thought too much about anything over the last thirty years.

“Where is it?” McCrabban asked him.

“It's out near the bins, I wonder Malcolm didn't leave a wee note for me that he had already called that in,” Mr Barry said.

“If it was blood, why didn't
call it in?” Crabbie asked.

“Some rascal breaks in here and cuts himself and I'm supposed to call the peelers about it? I thought you gentlemen had better things to do with your days.”

That did not bode well for it being something worth our trouble.

“Can you show us what you're talking about?” I asked.

“Well, it's outside,” Mr Barry said reluctantly.

He was still waving his antique twelve-gauge around and Crabbie took the shotgun out of his hands, broke it open, removed the shells and gave it back again.

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