Dervla McTiernan – The Rúin

Harper Collins Publishers, Australia, 2018

This is the first of now three Cormac Reilly crime novels, the latest having just been released in March 2020 and currently being toured nationally by its. I have come late to Dervla’s work it seems but am immediately a fan. The other two await in my book basket.

The Rúin is a story that spans two decades, and it can aptly be described by the much over-used word ‘gripping’. A murky tale of child abuse and its long tendrils runs as the underplot to the 2013 murder/suicide story, connected by Jack and Maude, with whom Cormac comes into contact in 1993 when he is a junior cop in Mayo.

The death of Jack early in the contemporary story coincides with Cormac’s transfer to a new position in Galway, where he encounters obvious hostility and scorn, which he finds puzzling, from his fellow police officers.

He is assigned to a cold case which he quickly realises is the very first case of his young career, the death of Maude and Jack’s mother. He persists with this investigation despite his frustration over the apparent mishandling of the investigation into the death of Jack. Jack’s partner Aisling, a young doctor, and his sister Maude, team up to push the authorities to look further into the suicide story, crossing paths with the dogged Cormac Reilly and swords with the local police.

Drugs, systemic corruption and cover-ups are at the core of the mysteries in this story. Our sense of unease is constantly fuelled and our sympathies cleverly engaged. We are deftly held in thrall by the author who drops us just enough clues to draw any number of conclusions about what is going on here and who weaves a third plot into the mix, finally sealing the lot in a deeply disturbing solution.

Whilst there is high drama in this novel, there is also a cleverly wrought sense of the grind of police work and its effects on the personal lives of its officers. Persistence (with a little tech magic) is essential to cut through the obstacles and Cormac Reilly is thus the perfect hero here. The central women also come up well for their bravery and intelligence. As a story of good and evil, it’s a satisfying read though never predictable or trite.

Great cover artwork in this series too.

The next two Cormac Reilly books are: The Scholar (2019) and The Good Turn (2020). Keep up with The Reading List for blogs about these very soon.