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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 the time a young police officer discovers the body of a mother in her dilapidated home. She has left behind two children – a brother and a sister – who the officer, Cormac Reilly, never forgets.

Fast forward 20 years and the officer, who has moved up the ranks, 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, or if it was something more sinister, and whether the sister was involved. The investigation leads Cormac back to the murdered mother.

More than just a murder mystery, the story is also a complex police procedural that explores 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, but with the same suspense and readability of books other successful crime novels like The Dry. McTiernan was born in Ireland, but now lives in Australia.

The characters were intriguing, from the enigmatic and moody Danny to his fellow police officer, the ambitious, but compassionate Cormac. There are many fascinating 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 fully explored. I guess that will be the domain of the follow up, The Scholar.

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

The Ruin is available at Booktopia or The Book Depository (US and UK). 

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