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Saturday, March 12, 2016

Review: Hidden River by Adrian McKinty

Audiobook: Ex-DCDS (Detective Constable Drug Squad), Alec Lawson, is unemployed, living with his Dad, and hooked on heroin when they learn of the death of Victoria Patawaski, his first girlfriend, who had ostensibly been killed during a mugging in the United States (we know from the beginning that’s not the case.) The story unfolds like the peeling of an onion with multiple layers and the reason for Lawson’s addiction comes to the fore along with revelations of the corruption higher in the police force.

Lawson is paid by the girl’s father to travel to Denver and find out what happened to his daughter. He had received an anonymous letter from someone in Denver suggesting that the mugging was not that at all, but rather a deliberate killing. Alex and his friend John are soon sought by the Denver police for an accidental killing and Alex has been warned that if he returns to Belfast he’ll be killed by those in the police wishing to hide their involvement in illegal activities. It’s no wonder he seeks refuge in smack. The killing is related to Victoria's involvement with an environmental organization run by a couple of brothers with political ambitions.

But therein lay one of the problems with the story. I had trouble believing that anyone who had become so dependent on heroin could function quite as brilliantly and covertly as Alex does. Hidden River is one of McKinty's early books, and while it reveals some of the really wonderful plotting and writing of the Sean Duffy series (which I really like - all of them), it had a tendency to be unfocused in spots and overly long (that's hard for me to admit since I generally like long books.) Perhaps it’s the locale, McKinty really shines when his stories are situated in Ireland.

Here’s a nice metaphor: “She had a smile like a sun-drenched cornfield over a missile silo.”

Gerard Doyle does his usual outstanding narration.
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