The opening of a gold mine propels Brian McGilloway's third Inspector Devlin mystery, Bleed a River Deep.
Inspector Devlin doesn't fit the "cop" stereotype, especially the hard-drinking Irishman.
When I started the first Devlin novel, my wife was expecting our first child. As a result, most of my preoccupation was with trying to be a good husband and father. It made sense that this should be something I'd explore in my protagonist. While I understood the precedent for the hard-drinking divorced maverick in crime novels, I felt that I had nothing new to bring to that type of character. It seemed more interesting to have a detective who is, for the most part, a normal balanced individual struggling to reconcile his various roles as father, husband, policeman.
Who are your literary influences?
In terms of crime fiction, James Lee Burke, Ian Rankin, and John Connolly. Burke is simply a superb writer, and Rankin is unmatched in the modern procedural field. Connolly is an inspiration for a whole generation of Irish crime writers, myself included, simply because he showed it was possible for an Irish writer not only to write crime fiction that might appeal beyond Ireland but also to write it so well. I'm not convinced we'd be having the crime fiction wave we're having in Ireland had it not been for John's trailblazing.
How does living near the Ireland/Northern Ireland border affect Devlin's ability to do his job?
The border was created artificially in 1920 by a group of people with a map. In many places, the border runs through houses and farms. Despite this, there's a very subtle shift in mindset from one side to the other. Historically, the two police forces would have been seen as antagonistic toward each other, so that provided a degree of tension, especially as Devlin tends to ignore the border when it suits him and travels freely on both sides. His relationship with his counterpart in the North, Jim Hendry, is my way of reflecting the state of the peace process as I see it.
Illegal immigration and environmental activism both play key roles in Bleed a River Deep. Is Ireland also facing these issues?
The Celtic Tiger attracted people from all over Europe to Ireland in a way that reminded me of the Irish immigration to America during the famine. This tied in neatly with the idea of the gold rush and the gold mine opening in Donegal. I also liked this as a metaphor for the whole Celtic Tiger phenomenon. Like the boom years, the gold mine encapsulates excess and possessiveness and, ultimately, the vacuity at its center.