Sunday, August 25, 2013

U is for Unholy Ground

Today, for the Crime Fiction Alphabet, I am featuring Unholy Ground. This is the second book in a ten-book series, and I reviewed the first book, A Stone of the Heart, earlier this year.

John Brady is the author. He was born in Dublin but Brady immigrated to Canada at the age of 20. The first book in the series won the Arthur Ellis award for Best First Novel. The next four books in the series were all finalists for the Arthur Ellis award for Best Novel.

This series is called the Inspector Matt Minogue series, but in this second book in the series, Minogue is a Detective Sergeant in the Murder Squad, a division of the Gardai, the Irish police force. I enjoyed the story, but it seems more like a spy story than a standard police procedural. That is fine with me, spy fiction is a favorite sub-genre also.

The death of a elderly resident of Dublin is being investigated; he appears to be merely a British citizen who had settled in Ireland. It turns out he was connected to MI5 in the United Kingdom. This book was published in 1989, and is set in Dublin, Ireland. Thus the political issues in Ireland at the time are a big factor.

Plot and character development are both very well done. Matt Minogue has a strong sense of self, a confidence in his abilities. When his decisions or deductions are questioned, he doesn't let it shake him. He is a family man and we see glimpses of his family, the daily family issues of a man with two children nearing adulthood.

I am including a quote from a review of A Stone of the Heart at View from the Blue House. The author of that blog lives and works in Ireland and knows a lot more about that area than I do.
The social interaction between characters is keenly observed and the dialogue is spot on, capturing the colloquialisms and banter of Irish brogue. Brady does an excellent job of capturing the political atmosphere in the South and the tensions between a somewhat political ambivalence and benign republicanism and an active support for the IRA.
This quote from the review of Unholy Ground at Kirkus Reviews gives a good overview:
A handsomely written, dark journey into Irish politics and English duplicity. Brady is a master of the telling detail, and within the framework of the political novel, has created memorable characters, most especially the estimable Minogue.
 The author's website has a large amount of background on the books in the series and the characters. I am personally holding off on reading a lot of the character background because I want to get further into the series first.

The Crime Fiction Alphabet is sponsored by Mysteries in Paradise.  Please visit this post to check out other entries for this letter.

This is my first book read for the 7th annual Canadian Book Challenge sponsored by John Mutford at The Book Mine Set. You can see information on joining this challenge HERE.

12 comments:

  1. Sounds interesting with the spy business going on. :)

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    1. Scott, it is interesting. The series is not getting stagnant.

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  2. Tracy, I think I might have let pass an opportunity to read this book, for both the cover and author are very familiar. Although a detective-mystery, it sounds more like a spy novel and the political aspect ought to make it more interesting for readers (like me) who followed the tumultuous events of the period in Ireland.

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    1. Prashant, I wish I understood more about those events in Ireland. I plan to read more about that time, both fiction and non-fiction.

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  3. Another unfamiliar author and title and series! But this does sound interesting, I like the Irish background. The politics of the 1980s - it's a push and a pull factor! I know enough to be intrigued, but also feel I'd like to forget such a sad difficult time in Irish history. We'll see... I might get to this one.

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    1. Moira, I think you would like these books. The book does give a sense of how uncomfortable that time was, with people having mixed feelings and loyalties.

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  4. Anxious to start reading this author!

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    1. Good, Peggy, I hope you enjoy them.

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  5. Tracy - An excellent choice for U, and I have to say, an author I'd like to know better. And this is such a momentous point in history - something that's so sad but important...

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    1. Margot, I also want to try some other authors who write about this subject and time period. The Ghosts of Belfast by Stuart Neville for example.

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  6. The switch to espionage can be tricky in a procedural series - very curious to read this one just because quite often I have been disappointed by the inclusion as it just becomes an excuse to blame events on unknown and unseen forces and in a sense abrogate responsibility as an author - thanks TracyK, looking forward to getting to know this series.

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    1. Sergio, I agree. I was missing the procedural feel that was in the first one and somewhat disappointed that the end result was fairly obvious, but for me reading about Ireland at this time balanced that out.

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