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Book review: The Ruin by Dervla McTiernan

With the follow up just published, I finally got around to reading Dervla McTiernan’s The Ruin. Set in Galway, The Ruin spans two decades, from a time a young police officer discovered the body of a mother in her dilapidated home. She left behind two children, who the officer, Cormac Reilly, never forgets.

As a more senior officer he again encounters the two, this time when the boy’s body is found in the river. It is Cormac’s job to find out whether the death was a suicide, and if it was something more sinister, whether the sister was involved. The investigation leads Cormac back two decades.

More than just a murder mystery, the story is also a police procedural, exploring themes of ethics, corruption, and child abuse and neglect.

Recently, I have read quite a few crime novels set in Australia, so it was refreshing to read a book set on the other side of the world. McTiernan was born in Ireland, but now lives in Australia.

The characters were interesting, while retaining some of their mystery, from the enigmatic Danny to the ambitious, but compassionate, Cormac. There are many interesting side stories that I would have liked to have known more about, including the backstory of Cormac and his girlfriend, Emma’s relationship, which is hinted at but never explored. I guess that will be the domain of the follow up, The Scholar.

The Ruin is a clever, entertaining and sometimes dark story that remains a page-turner until the satisfying resolution. I’m looking forward to getting hold of The Scholar to find out what happens next.

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