Book review: The Rúin by Dervla McTiernan

Saturday, March 10, 2018 Permalink

Dervla McTiernan was born in Ireland and lived there until 2011, before moving to Western Australia with her family. Her debut novel The Rúin is set in Ireland and its setting and dialogue quintessentially Irish, but there’s a snippet of her new country of abode, as one of the characters returns from a long stay in Australia.

Book review: The Rúin by Dervla McTiernanThe Ruin
by Dervla McTiernan
Series: Cormac Reilly #1
Published by Harper Collins
on March 1st 2018
Source: Harper Collins
Genres: Crime Fiction, Police Procedural
ISBN: 1460754212, 9781460754214
Pages: 342

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...

McTiernan explains in a preface that The Rúin – as the title of this book – can be viewed via its English meaning and we come across the derelict house that kicks off Cormac’s story in the opening pages. In Irish however, Rúin can apparently mean a mystery or secret… or be a term of endearment.

I read this book in a sitting. (Or bathing. One several hour-long bath.) So it’s addictive… it’s not action-packed and readers aren’t necessarily concerned about the fate of our new friends, rather we keep reading because we NEED to know what happened and we’ve come to care about those involved.

There are a couple of plots twisting together in this book and McTiernan does a good job at not making them obvious or bringing them together until she needs to. It meant there were a few surprises for me and lessons there in the assumptions we tend to make. (And those lessons aren’t ours alone, but Cormac certainly got a shock or two.)

I really liked the array of characters on offer, lead by Cormac and love that there’s more to come (in future books in the series). I did however, feel as if there were a couple of gaps…. there’s reference to the way Cormac met his partner Emma, but I’m fairly certain it wasn’t explained. That might come in future books, but this was written in a way that we felt we needed to know but had somehow missed it. (I knew this was billed as Cormac Reilly #1 but wondered briefly if McTiernan had written something before which had introduced him.)

And – the pacing at the end didn’t quite work for me as it felt as if we rushed to the climax / conclusion or leapt there without really knowing the full story. (But again, this could be something McTiernan’s leaving to future books in the series.)

Minor gripes aside, this is a great debut and I can see why it sold across a number of countries.

The Rúin by Dervla McTiernan was published in Australia by Harper Collins and now available.

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


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