Venturing out of my sick bed and into Waterstones, Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow to spend my Christmas vouchers, I bumped into store manager Caron, who asked me if I’d read “The Ruin” by Dervla McTiernan yet. I had to confess that I hadn’t but that I would buy the book and put it on my TBR pile. However such is the lure of a bookseller recommendation, I came home and cast aside all others to make a start on this one. Let’s just say I was not disappointed!
Before I share my thoughts, here’s what the official blurb says:
It’s been twenty years since Cormac Reilly discovered the body of Hilaria Blake in her crumbling Georgian home. But he’s never forgotten the two children she left behind…
When Aisling Conroy’s boyfriend Jack is found in the freezing black waters of the river Corrib, the police tell her it was suicide. A surgical resident, she throws herself into study and work, trying to forget – until Jack’s sister Maude shows up. Maude suspects foul play, and she is determined to prove it.
DI Cormac Reilly is the detective assigned with the re-investigation of an ‘accidental’ overdose twenty years ago – of Jack and Maude’s drug- and alcohol-addled mother. Cormac is under increasing pressure to charge Maude for murder when his colleague Danny uncovers a piece of evidence that will change everything…
This unsettling crime debut draws us deep into the dark heart of Ireland and asks who will protect you when the authorities can’t – or won’t. Perfect for fans of Tana French and Jane Casey.
With a killer hook of an opening, this was one that was clearly going to be a “just one more chapter” kind of read and the question was would it pass the ultimate test and keep me up past my bedtime?!
The Ruin begins with a derelict house, two neglected children and a dead mother twenty years ago. We are then transported to the present where we watch past and present collide as Cormack Reilly finds that very first case he was sent to as a rookie comes back to haunt him. A whole cast of characters are introduced, some whom you will gel with, others will make your hackles rise while others will intrigue you.
A slow-burning tension builds up in this well-written debut. It’s not a wham bam thank you mam kind of read and I think it might frustrate those who are looking for something fast and furious. It is, however, an exquisitely teased out, suspenseful and compelling read. At times there is a deep set feeling of unease as the trauma experienced by characters is uncovered. It is never gratuitous or explicit yet the message hits home all the harder without graphic details. It explores Ireland’s attitude towards suicide, abortion, internal police politics, religion, child protection
Well written and completely relatable characters along with an excellent sense of setting beds the reader into the book as well as setting the scene for what’s to come in the future.
I loved finding out about Cormack Reilly, some of his backstory was uncovered but there is still more to be unearthed as this series develops.
Cleverly plotted this one will have your head in a spin as you try to work out who and why. Each of the characters lives, the past and the present all intertwine and marry up to provide a more than satisfactory conclusion to this excellent debut novel. And the answer to the question? Hell, yeah, it kept me up way past my bedtime!
The Ruin is available to purchase from: