Book review: The Good Turn by Dervla McTiernan

Thursday, February 20, 2020 Permalink

I’ve heard Irish-born Australian-dwelling author Dervla McTiernan speak on a number of occasions, met her briefly and follow her on social media. She’s confirmation of my belief that authors (whose books I enjoy) are always likeable and engaging ‘off’ the page as well as on.

Though I liked her debut, The Ruin (the first in the Cormac Reilly series) I didn’t love it as much as most. Of course it went on to win a million awards so it says something about my judgement!

I actually preferred her second novel, The Scholar, again featuring Cormac. And now that I’ve read her third book in the series, it’s knocked its predecessor of its mantle. The Good Turn, is easily my favourite of the three (to date); so readers need not fear McTiernan has peaked!

Book review: The Good Turn by Dervla McTiernanThe Good Turn
by Dervla McTiernan
Series: Cormac Reilly #3
on 24/02/2020
Source: Harper Collins
Genres: Crime Fiction, Police Procedural
ISBN: 1460756797
Pages: 400

While Detective Cormac Reilly faces enemies at work and trouble in his personal life, Garda Peter Fisher is relocated out of Galway with the threat of prosecution hanging over his head. But even that is not as terrible as having to work for his overbearing father, the local copper for the pretty seaside town of Roundstone.

For some, like Anna and her young daughter Tilly, Roundstone is a refuge from trauma. But even this village on the edge of the sea isn't far enough to escape from the shadows of evil men.

I commented in my review of The Scholar that I really liked the secondary characters on offer. Here we get to spend more time with Peter Fisher. In fact, he features as much, if not more than Cormac and I didn’t mind that at all. We get some insight into his background and the influences on his life as he’s forced to consider the impact his mentor Cormac has possibly had on his career… both good and bad.

The book opens after a witness sees a 12yr old girl taken off the street, putting Cormac and his rather-lean team (having been stripped of members for higher profile drug-related cases) on high alert.

The outcome is a bad one for Peter and he finds himself shunted off to his hometown, offered a lifeline by his estranged father. He’s only supposed to be tidying up paperwork but finds himself investigating unsolved local murders – supposedly the work of a Dublin gang passing through.

Cormac’s career is also in limbo and he’s forced to reconsider his options… including those involving his partner Emma, who’s working in Brussels.

There’s reference to Cormac reporting concerns about dodgy cops – including his direct superior – but I couldn’t remember if that formed part of the previous novels. It certainly explains why he clashes with many others at the station and why his boss offered no assistance after the young girl’s abduction.

Interestingly here Cormac’s very much branded someone who plays by the rules. It wasn’t something I’d remembered about him, but it’s that inflexibility Peter’s confronted with away from his old colleagues.

This novel features some soul-searching from both our leads. Cormac wondering what’s on the cards for his future; and Peter whose father has him questioning his adoption of Cormac as a mentor.

There are a few cases and threads on the go at once – some overt and some simmering beneath the surface. I sometimes complain when two disparate plots intersect and that happens here. Happenstance isn’t it called? But I loved this book so much I’m happy to overlook it.

I loved the characters McTiernan offers. Cormac again of course, but I really liked spending more time with Peter as well as others we meet in his hometown, including his grandmother. There’s also a mother and her young daughter we meet in the prologue, though it takes time to learn their story and secrets.

McTiernan mixes up the pace here with Cormac and Peter fighting against the antipathy of others and barriers within the system; their cases progressing in fits and starts. It’s an approach that works well given the myriad of plot threads we’re unpicking, some of which are quite unexpected.

I finished this already keen for the next book as I’m really eager to see where McTiernan takes these characters I’m growing to love more and more. We don’t see much of the other members of Cormac’s team here and I’m wondering if she intends to keep Peter as a lead, or focus novels on different support characters.

Great writing, engaging complex characters and a sometimes-bewildering plot (in a good way) makes this my favourite in this series so far.

The Good Turn by Dervla McTiernan will be published by Harper Collins on 24 February 2020.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes. 


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