The ruin by Dervla McTiernan

cover image

Cormac Reilly book 1. Harper Collins, 2018. ISBN: 9781460754214.
(Age: Adult - Senior secondary) Highly recommended. After reading the review of The scholar (2019) I decided to start with the first book in the series and I was not disappointed. Right from the beginning when a very young Cormac Reilly finds the body of Hilaria Blake in her decaying mansion and takes her children, 15 year old Maude and 5 year old Jack to the hospital, the reader is plunged into a story of suspense and murder. Twenty years later the body of Jack turns up in a river, an apparent suicide but Aisling Conroy, his partner is convinced that he did not die by his own hand. Then Jack's sister Maude shows up determined to prove that there was foul play.
There are many twists and turns and a couple of sub-plots to keep the reader guessing. The politics of the police station are explored as Cormac is given the cold case of Hilaria Blake's drug overdose to investigate, rather than the death of Jack while both seem to be connected. Shunned by the members of the force, he has to plough his way through poorly filed evidence, not knowing whom he can trust.
The plight of children left to suffer abuse at the hands of people who should care for them is another major theme that threads throughout the story. Aisling's conflict between her difficult job as an emergency surgeon and her pregnancy also adds depth to the story.
All the characters were deftly drawn. Cormac is determined, the policewoman assigned to domestic violence and missing children cases conscientious, and Fisher, the young policeman who is Cormac's offsider is an intelligent and enthusiastic side-kick. Aisling's job is high pressured and well described while Maude's decision to leave Jack when he was five tugs at the heart strings.
This series is one that will be welcome by lovers of mysteries - well structured, tense and crowded with great characters. People who enjoyed The lost man by Jane Harper are sure to like the ruin.
Pat Pledger