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Saturday, December 29, 2018

Engrossing Irish Crime Novel an Intriguing Debut

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Cormac Reilly, now a detective sergeant, has never forgotten the call he took as a rookie twenty years ago that led him to a dead mother in County Mayo.  There, he discovered the body of Hilaria Blake, a bed-bound alcoholic with advanced-stage liver disease, dead of an apparent drug overdose.  In the freezing, dilapidated house, he encountered Hilaria's two children—Jack and Maude—both bruised and starving, reeking of neglect.  Cormac took them to the hospital and never saw them again, although their pathetic situation never quite left his mind.

Two decades later, Cormac is back in Galway after a stint in Dublin.  Despite his work experience, he's handed cold cases to keep him busy, a not-so-subtle insult.  When a body is discovered in the river Corrib, Cormac is shocked to be called in on the case.  To his dismay, the deceased is Jack Blake, a 25-year-old civil engineer who Cormac once carried out of a ramshackle home in which lay his dead mother.  While the death is a suspected suicide, Maude—newly arrived in Ireland from her home in Australia—insists her brother did not kill himself.  While Jack's girlfriend, Aisling Conroy, isn't sure what to think, Maude tries to convince her and Cormac to look more closely at what she insists is a murder.  Cormac reluctantly does so, even though he's being pressured to arrest Maud.  When a colleague finds shocking new evidence, however, he starts to suspect Maud may be right, but can he prove it?  The case raises disturbing questions about the local police department.  Is Cormac being deliberately misled?  If so, why?  It's up to him to find out the truth before someone puts a stop to his questioning—for good.

The Ruin, a debut novel by Irish lawyer Dervla McTiernan, is the first in a new detective series featuring the likable Cormac Reilly.  It's a compelling, well-plotted mystery featuring a set of complex, intriguing story people.  The action isn't heart-pounding, but it's steady and engrossing.  I definitely had trouble putting the book down.  With an interesting setting, sympathetic characters, and a storyline that kept me guessing, The Ruin made for a very satisfying read.  I'll definitely be reading the next book in the series, The Scholar, when it comes out in March.

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of crime novels by Tana French and Jane Casey


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for strong language, violence, and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find


  1. Definitely adding this one to my TBR list. Thank you

  2. Another book that has been on my list and your comparison to Tana French says a lot. Did I tell you that I had no set plans for 2019? Read what I want - so, I want a bunch of the books you've been reviewing in the last few days. LOL


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