The Ruin, by Dervla McTiernan

>> Wednesday, March 11, 2020

TITLE: The Ruin
AUTHOR: Dervla McTiernan

PAGES: 380

SETTING: Contemporary Ireland
TYPE: Mystery
SERIES: Cormac Reilly #1

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.
The Ruin starts a new mystery series set in Galway, Ireland. DI Cormac Reilly has just moved back there after many years working in Dublin, and for the last few weeks he's been stuck working cold cases. It's clear that his new bosses aren't welcoming him with open arms, and there are some difficult dynamics going on amongst his fellow officers.

One of the cases he's given is one from his past. When Cormac was just starting out, he was sent to check on a report of a domestic disturbance. But in an isolated house in the country, rather than what he expected, he finds the corpse of a woman who's died of a heroin overdose. Her death was reported by her teenaged daughter, Maude, and also in the house is a young boy, Jack, clearly neglected, possibly abused. And right after the two kids are taken to the hospital, Maude disappears. Now, in the present day, Cormac is being asked to look into the accidental overdose, since information has come up that it may not have been accidental after all, and Maude may have been responsible.

This all seems to be happening at a very coincidental time, since not long before Cormac was assigned the case, Jack died. The police consider it to have been a suicide and are refusing to look into it further, no matter how much evidence Jack's sister Maude, just returned after decades abroad, presents showing his dead was not suicide or accidental.

The Ruin was a really good, promising start to this series. McTiernan has an engaging writing style, and the action flows well. She also creates a very interesting case. It was one I was genuinely interested in, and I wanted to know what had happened. I couldn't wait to find out how the older case connected with Jack's death in the present-day, and spent a good couple of evenings wondering about it. The solution was a good one, and one that made complete sense. McTiernan had very successfully led me in completely the wrong direction, but in a way that felt perfectly fair. I had felt the actual culprit's behaviour was suspicious, but I had guessed a completely wrong reason for it.

I was also very intrigued by Cormac's relationship with his girlfriend, Emma. He's moved back to Galway mainly due to her job (even though he has some very credible rationalisations regarding why it makes sense from a career point of view for him to do this anyway), and there seems to be a bit of difficulty in them settling in. Emma is super busy setting up her team at the lab where she works, and their attempts to spend some time together seem to fail every time. Additionally, there are hints about them having got together in an unorthodox way, one that may cast some negative lights onto Cormac's behaviour as a police officer, but no real details are given. I wanted to know more, but I'm content to wait, because it seems the next book will provide that.

The only thing I wasn't crazy about was that the police in this book are not great. There seems to be a good deal of unprofessional behaviour, verging (if not going right over the verge) into corruption, and it wasn't really resolved. I always find that frustrating to read, as I prefer my detective main characters to be able to concentrate on the case, not to have to fight against the authorities to be able to do their job. I did find it frustrating here, but it was not too bad. I'll definitely keep reading.



Marg 11 March 2020 at 10:04  

The third book in this series has just come out here and I believe, from what I have heard, that the corruption thing is a big part of the story. I am hoping to get to it soon and I am looking forward to it!

Fernande,  11 March 2020 at 11:34  

I really enjoyed listening to both The Ruin and its sequel, The Scholar, not only for the puzzle but also for the intelligent, complex, and interesting characters. Although I too don't usually care for the plot device of internal police corruption, I'm looking forward to the third in the series, The Good Turn. According to McTiernan's website, The Good Turn is supposed to be out now, but as far as I can tell is not actually available from the Canadian e-book retailers I use. I do hope it surfaces soon.

Darlynne 11 March 2020 at 18:00  

A new series to check out, thanks!

Rosario 12 March 2020 at 05:45  

Marg: Looks like it's only out in Australia, maybe? Hopefully by the time I've finished The Scholar, it'll be available in the UK (which is where my amazon kindle account is still based). At the moment, they don't even have a release date...

Fernande: Agreed! The characters were super interesting as well. In addition to Cormac's girlfriend, I'd like to know more about his female colleague. I hope I'll get that in the next books.

Darlynne: Hope you enjoy! :)

Marg 12 March 2020 at 09:36  

I don't know if you can still get it but at one stage there was a novella about his female colleague which was available on Audible.

Darlynne 13 March 2020 at 14:59  

Had to come back to tell you how much I enjoyed THE RUIN and have purchased THE SCHOLAR. The toxic dynamics of that squad are hard to read, but I had a sense of hope by the end of RUIN. Great characters and plot. Thanks for ending my reading slump.

Rosario 14 March 2020 at 05:56  

Marg: Oh, thanks, I'll look that up!

Darlynne: So glad to hear that, thanks for coming back to let me know! :)

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