The Rúin, the debut novel of Irish lawyer Dervla McTiernan, kept me reading way past my bedtime. Not only that, I began reading again first thing the next morning, unwilling to put the book down until I’d finished.
Dervla McTiernan lives with her husband and two children in a Perth suburb.
The Rúin fits into the genre which can be described loosely as ‘crime’. Also a police procedural, it deals with a cold case from 20 years before, while at the same time engaged with a contemporary crime. Corruption, conspiracy and ethical dilemmas create additional complications to keep the reader guessing. The Irish word ‘Rúin’ means ‘something hidden’.
As well, it is a nuanced love story and recounts many past and present complications from different points of view.
Set in Galway, the novel is informed by the history of Ireland, and the appalling treatment of some of the country’s children.
The major characters, Detective Sergeant Cormac and aspiring surgeon Aisling Conroy share the main roles. The action moves between the work of the skilled, methodical detective and the trauma of talented, and understandably distressed, doctor. McTiernan’s deft characterisation creates plausible, well-rounded main characters.
Dervla McTiernan has written a beautifully crafted book which incorporates all the elements we expect in a crime-thriller. Chapters, however short, end in often subtle cliff-hangers which keep the pages turning.
Descriptions which would credit a writer of literary fiction pepper the pages of The
Rúin . For example,
The judge, his wig slightly askew but his white collar pristine, was reading the papers, holding them up and slightly away as if his glasses weren’t quite addressing his long-sightedness.
The Rúin is the first in a series of two books by Dervla McTiernan. Because of it’s complexity and social themes, this would make an excellent book club choice.
I can’t wait to read McTiernan’s second book, The Scholar.
Australian Women Writers Challenge 2019
This review has been written as part of the Australian Women Writers Challenge, 2019
At the beginning of the year, I committed to reading and reviewing nineteen books in 2019. You can find my blog about this here. It was very ambitious plan, and one I’m unlikely to reach, due to a few hiccups along the way, although I plan to give it a good try.