The Rūin, Dervla McTiernan

Reviewed By
Gordon Duncan

In the past six months I’ve been catching up with a number of authors and novels which I’ve let slip past in the last few years. Included amongst these authors is Dervla McTiernan who’s debut novel, The Rūin, was released last year. Set in Galway, Ireland it’s the story of two possible murders, one in the present day, the other twenty years in the past. Directly linking the two events are Detective Sergeant Cormac Reilly, who as a fresh Garda attended the latter scene, and is now stationed in Galway where the second possible murder takes place, and Maud and Jack Blake who were 15 and years old respectively when Reilly found them in the house with their dead mother. After that night Maud disappeared and Jack was taken into care and eventually adopted. His apparent suicide is the second murder of the novel. When Maud reappears demanding an investigation into her brother’s death Reilly is asked to investigate their mother’s death. There is one final main character in The Rūin, Aisling Conroy who is Jack’s partner.

Although The Rūin is primarily told through the eyes of Cormac Reilly, there are times when the novel is seen from the perspective of Aisling and to a lesser extent Maud. What makes this multiple points of view even more interesting is that in some way or other each of them is an outsider. Reilly has recently transferred to Galway from Dublin and feels a great deal of resentment from his fellow officers, Aisling is training to be a surgeon, a male dominated occupation, and Maud who’s been away for twenty years. 

There is a great deal to enjoy about The Rūin. The novel is well paced and the eventual revelations carry a great deal of emotional weight. There is also plenty of groundwork laid for the continuation of Cormac Reilly as a lead character and I’m planning to read and review The Scholar, Dervla McTiernan’s second novel which has just been released, in the next couple of months. 

Year of Publication
Book Number (in series)

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...

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