cover image The Ruin

The Ruin

Derva McTiernan. Penguin, $16 trade paper (400p) ISBN 978-0-14-313312-4

McTiernan’s powerful first novel has the authentic feel of its Irish setting. In 1993, police detective Cormac Reilly is called to a house in Kilmore, County Mayo, where he finds 15-year-old Maude Blake and her five-year-old brother, Jack, alive; in an upstairs bedroom lies the body of their alcoholic mother, dead of a drug overdose. In 2013, Jack’s body turns up in a Galway river after an anonymous caller claims he saw Jack jump in. Jack’s girlfriend, Aisling Conroy, is sadly willing to accept the obvious conclusion that it was suicide. But Maude, newly back from Australia, is convinced it was murder. Based on new information, Cormac investigates the now 20-year-old death of the mother, while Maude and Aisling try to figure out what actually happened to Jack, since the police seem unwilling to. Various other threads in the tightly woven plot lead to rape, child molestation, drug dealing, police corruption, and more murders. McTiernan neatly ties them all together in the suspenseful conclusion. McTiernan, born in Ireland but now living in Australia, is a writer to watch. Agent: Faye Bender, Book Group. (July)