The new Laganview development would look across the river toward the stylish curves of the Waterfront Hall, the Hilton Hotel and the white limestone of the city court House. The new apartments would rub shoulders with the old working class areas where rows of terraced houses formed a maze of side streets and alleyways. During the Troubles they had been a no-go area for the police, a hot bed of militant Republicanism. Now twenty-five years later, there is money to be made in Belfast.
Thirty-four years old and looking closer to forty, with five years of solid shift work behind him, Detective Sergeant John O’Neill is given his first time “up front” on a murder investigation. It’s his last chance saloon. Wilson, the Chief Inspector, wants him back in uniform, but DI Ward, one of the few old timers to stay on in the force, is ready to stand by him.
What O’Neill has is a body: a white male in his late teens, pale and skinny with hollow cheeks and a shaved head, but with no ID and every indication of being the victim of a para-military punishment beating. O’Neill has drawn the short straw…
New money, old habits, ex-cons, gun-running and drug dealing; Matt McGuire’s sharply-honed prose conveys a city in the throes of immense change where loyalty, perseverance and sometimes a hunch are all you have to go on.