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The Ruin
Cover of The Ruin
The Ruin
A Novel
"Compelling, unexpected twists and a hold-your breath standoff . . . Hand this one to readers of Tana French and to police-procedural fans." —Booklist
It's been twenty years since Detective Cormac Reilly discovered the body of Hilaria Blake in her crumbling home. But he's never forgotten the two children she left behind...

When Aisling Conroy's boyfriend Jack is found in the freezing black waters of the river Corrib in Ireland, the police tell her it was suicide. She throws herself into work, trying to forget—but Jack's sister Maude reappears in Ireland after years abroad, determined to prove Jack was murdered.
Meanwhile, Detective Cormac Reilly, who was recently transferred to Galway from his squad in Dublin, is assigned to dig into a cold case from twenty years ago—the seeming overdose of Jack and Maude's drug and alcohol addled mother. Other detectives are connecting Jack's death to his mother's, and pushing Reilly to arrest Maude, and fast. But instinct tells him something isn't quite what it seems...
This unsettling small-town noir draws us deep into the dark heart of Ireland, where corruption, desperation, and crime run rife. A gritty look at trust and betrayal where the written law isn't the only one, The Ruin asks who will protect you when the authorities can't—or won't.

"Compelling, unexpected twists and a hold-your breath standoff . . . Hand this one to readers of Tana French and to police-procedural fans." —Booklist
It's been twenty years since Detective Cormac Reilly discovered the body of Hilaria Blake in her crumbling home. But he's never forgotten the two children she left behind...

When Aisling Conroy's boyfriend Jack is found in the freezing black waters of the river Corrib in Ireland, the police tell her it was suicide. She throws herself into work, trying to forget—but Jack's sister Maude reappears in Ireland after years abroad, determined to prove Jack was murdered.
Meanwhile, Detective Cormac Reilly, who was recently transferred to Galway from his squad in Dublin, is assigned to dig into a cold case from twenty years ago—the seeming overdose of Jack and Maude's drug and alcohol addled mother. Other detectives are connecting Jack's death to his mother's, and pushing Reilly to arrest Maude, and fast. But instinct tells him something isn't quite what it seems...
This unsettling small-town noir draws us deep into the dark heart of Ireland, where corruption, desperation, and crime run rife. A gritty look at trust and betrayal where the written law isn't the only one, The Ruin asks who will protect you when the authorities can't—or won't.

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  • From the book ***This excerpt is from an advance uncorrected copy proof***

    Copyright © 2018 Dervla McTiernan

    PROLOGUE

    Cormac leaned forward to peer through the windscreen, then nearly cracked his head on the steering wheel as the car bounced through another pothole. Shite. There was no sign of the house, and he'd been searching for over an hour. He could barely read house names or numbers in the settling gloom. Maybe the whole thing was some kind of first-week hazing ritual. If it had been Dwyer who'd sent him he would have been sure of it. Dwyer was the sort of bastard who was forever telling jokes, jokes with an edge to them and usually a target. But it had been Marcus Tully who'd called him in off traffic duty, barely looking up from his newspaper as he handed Cormac the post-it note that was now stuck to his dashboard.

    Dower House, Monagaraun Road, Kilmore. Maude Blake. Tully's handwriting, unlike the man himself, was tidy and perfectly legible. His muttered instruction had given Cormac the impression that the call was for some sort of minor domestic. Cormac hadn't asked any questions; he'd been concentrating too hard on trying to look like he knew what he was doing. It turned out that Kilmore was a blink-and-you-miss it kind of village, with a church, a mart, a tiny primary school, and two pubs. The Monagaraun Road was forty miles long, and pocked with a bare scattering of farmhouses and bungalows, none of which bore any resemblance to a dower house.

    Cormac pulled in at the next gap in the hedgerow, and sat for a moment. He was sweating. The heater was broken – the only settings were off and furnace – and given the temperature outside, he'd chosen furnace. Christ. The car was a nightmare, with a clutch that made threatening sounds every time he changed gear, and a faint but persistent smell of vomit from the back seat. Even the radio was in bits, its wires hanging loose, waiting for a fix.

    It could be a piss-take. The whole thing, giving him a phantom address, a squad car that was falling apart. In which case he should give up now. Drive back. Pretend that he'd known all along and had spent the last couple of hours eating his lunch. On the other hand, what if this was a real call and he arrived back without even having found the house? No. He had to find the damn place, or be absolutely sure it didn't exist. His best option might be to try one of the village pubs – there was a fifty-fifty chance he would get real directions that wouldn't send him into the nearest bog. Cormac released the hand-brake and started a slow drive back towards the village. He was about a kilometre out when he spotted two crumbling stone gateposts, almost hidden behind a thick layer of ivy. The gate they'd once supported was long gone. Cormac pulled into the gateway. His headlights illuminated a drive that was little more than mud and weeds. It was lined with mature sycamore trees, overgrown now, their bare branches meshing overhead.

    Deep ruts had been dug through the soil by the recent passage of a tractor. He'd seen the drive before, on a previous pass, had taken it to be an access track for farmland and dismissed it. But those sycamores and the gateposts suggested something else. Hundred-year-old trees, planted to offer an elegant entrance to the parkland of some grand estate. An estate meant a dower house, or at least the chance of one.

    Cormac moved the car forward another few metres and peered through the windscreen. He couldn't see a house, but the tractor marks petered out halfway down the visible drive. Was there a farm gate there in a break in the trees? Maybe. Beyond that the driveway continued, and curved, and the...

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from May 21, 2018
    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.

  • Library Journal

    June 1, 2018

    Maude and Jack Blake's mother died of a heroin overdose in 1993. Twenty years later, the detective who investigated the death, Cormac Reilly, is reintroduced to the siblings' case because of Jack's suicide and Maude's suspicious behavior. Aisling Conroy, a medical resident and Jack's partner, does not believe Jack killed himself; she takes it upon herself, with urging from Maude, to find out what really happened. As secrets from Jack's past are uncovered, Cormac learns that his original case is connected to a tangled web of other crimes as well. Rich characterization is revealed through the alternating points of view from Cormac, Aisling, and eventually Maude; there is also a strong sense of place as the characters weave through the often rainy Irish landscape. VERDICT With police drama reminiscent of Tana French's "Dublin Murder Squad" series and parallels to the close-to-home, quieter suspense of Ruth Ware's The Lying Game, McTiernan pens an intricate story of impossible decisions, family bonds, and police politics. Avid mystery readers will be enthralled with this intricate, mysterious, and edgy debut.--Natalie Browning, Longwood Univ. Lib., Farmville, VA

    Copyright 2018 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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A Novel
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