#Review: THE RUIN, Dervla McTiernan, a strong detective mystery

The Ruin, Dervla McTiernan, Cormac Reilly #1, mystery, detective, novel

I just finished listening to The Ruin on Audible, and I’m hooked on the series.

I came to this novel length opener to the Cormac Reilly series after coming across McTiernan’s short stories: “The Sisters” and “The Roommate”.

I had enjoyed McTiernan’s writing style, her characters, and Aoife McMahon’s narration, the quality of which cannot be overstated, so I wanted to give one of McTiernan’s full-length novels a try.

Like her two previous short stories, McTiernan presents a slow burn of a detective story in  The Ruin that focuses more on character development than crime-solving for the first two-thirds of the book.

Detective Sergeant Cormac Reilly is new to the Galway police department, but he ends up entwined in a series of related cases that harken back to his very first case 20 years prior.

This premise immediately introduces a depth to Cormac’s character that impresses the reader with the notion that there is much more to learn about him — a great place to start with the first book in a series. Simultaneously, the reader meets several other seemingly unconnected characters whose lives end up crashing into each other, and not always in the way the reader expects.

The pacing is not slow, but it allows the characters to breathe for the majority of the book while questions are being asked, and, importantly, while many of the characters are dealing with their own issues in their personal lives. This allows the reader to connect with the various characters before the suspense hits and puts those characters in peril.

The final section of the story is punctuated by shorter chapters following each of the primary characters as the investigation comes to a head.

I think what I really like about McTiernan’s stories is that she does not seem tow rite simply for the thrill or suspense of the investigations themselves. She writes for her characters. This is evident in the closing chapters, where she takes the time to let her characters get their feet set after the big climax, and in some cases, find emotional resolutions that feel realistic.

I’ve never really been into mystery novels, but McTiernan has hooked me with her storytelling and character development. I will definitely be following this series.

Steve D

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