Book review: The Scholar by Dervla McTiernan

Sunday, February 17, 2019 Permalink

Irish-born Aussie-dwelling Dervla McTiernan’s debut novel, The Ruin, was warmly received last year, winning hearts and accolades.

Her fans will be happy to know that its sequel, The Scholar, most definitely does not disappoint and we pick up with Irish detective Cormac Reilly where we left off.

Book review: The Scholar by Dervla McTiernanThe Scholar
by Dervla McTiernan
Series: Cormac Reilly #2
Published by HarperCollins - AU
on March 1st 2019
Source: NetGalley
Genres: Crime Fiction, Police Procedural
ISBN: 1460754220, 9781460754221
Pages: 384

When Dr Emma Sweeney stumbles across the victim of a hit and run outside Galway University late one evening, she calls her partner, Detective Cormac Reilly, bringing him first to the scene of a murder that would otherwise never have been assigned to him.

A security card in the dead woman's pocket identifies her as Carline Darcy, a gifted student and heir apparent to Irish pharmaceutical giant Darcy Therapeutics. The multi-billion-dollar company, founded by her grandfather, has a finger in every pie, from sponsoring university research facilities to funding political parties to philanthropy - it has funded Emma's own ground-breaking research. The enquiry into Carline's death promises to be high profile and high pressure.

As Cormac investigates, evidence mounts that the death is linked to a Darcy laboratory and, increasingly, to Emma herself. Cormac is sure she couldn't be involved, but as his running of the case comes under scrutiny from the department and his colleagues, he is forced to question his own objectivity. Could his loyalty to Emma have led him to overlook evidence? Has it made him a liability?

This case is a particularly interesting one. We briefly meet a 12yr old Carline upon the death of her father and I engaged with her immediately. So it was devastating that the book-proper opens with a hit and run and she’s identified as the victim, eight years later.

I don’t think I’m offering up huge spoilers here by saying there’s a case of mistaken identity but it seems obvious that whatever’s happening here, revolves around the young woman who’s now wealthy-in-her-own-right, but desperate for acceptance by her patriarchal grandfather.

The biggest challenge for me (here) was that I didn’t recall a lot of detail from¬†The Ruin. I remembered the main plot but not enough about Cormac’s colleagues and boss or even Emma. I re-read my review of the first book and noted that I’d commented on the lack of backstory around Emma which I hoped would be forthcoming.

This time around Cormac’s worried about her fragility and there’s mention of the events leading up to how the pair met and though I can’t remember if they were the answers I was after in the first book or happened in the first book, I assume them to be.

I also wasn’t sure if we’d met Cormac’s colleagues, Carrie O’Halloran and the ambitious Peter Fisher then. Either way I enjoyed that (cop shop) story arc – about trust, loyalty and those who have your back when you least expect it.

This is an intriguing story and kinda sad when you think about what actually happened and why. Such intelligence and potential snuffed out… ‘n’ all that.

I know it’s only book two but McTiernan is offering up consistently engaging characters and interesting plots in this already-impressive series.

The Scholar by Dervla McTiernan will be published in Australia by Harper Collins and available from 1 March 2019 (or perhaps earlier!!!).

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


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