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The Ruin (2018)

by Dervla McTiernan

Series: Cormac Reilly (1)

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7674725,397 (3.87)76
Galway 1993: Young Garda Cormac Reilly is called to a scene he will never forget. Two silent, neglected children - fifteen-year-old Maude and five-year-old Jack - are waiting for him at a crumbling country house. Upstairs, their mother lies dead. Twenty years later, a body surfaces in the icy black waters of the River Corrib. At first it looks like an open-and-shut case, but then doubt is cast on the investigation's findings - and the integrity of the police. Cormac is thrown back into the cold case that has haunted him his entire career - what links the two deaths, two decades apart? As he navigates his way through police politics and the ghosts of the past, Detective Reilly uncovers shocking secrets and finds himself questioning who among his colleagues he can trust. What really did happen in that house where he first met Maude and Jack? The Ruin draws us deep into the dark heart of Ireland and asks who will protect you when the authorities can't - or won't.… (more)
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» See also 76 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 47 (next | show all)
Cormac Reilly has recently relocated to Galway from Dublin, where he was a member of a highly specialized unit. Now he has to get used to working in a rather usual station again and needs to adapt to a new team. So far, he has only been assigned cold cases, which is rather boring, until one pops up that was his own case many years ago... One chilly night, he was sent to a disrepaired house where the mother of two neglected children had died, apparently from a drug overdose. Reilly traveled to the hospital with the two pitiful children, only for one of them to disappear and never to be found again.

The other main character is Aisling Conroy, a young doctor hoping for a glittering career, when her boyfriend is found dead in the Corrib river. His death is quickly ruled a suicide. Aisling cannot really believe that, but does not see any other way. She throws herself into her work again and tries to come to terms with what happened, but then things take a turn...

This novel totally gripped me and the characters and events haunted me whenever I was not reading. I liked how the author combined two genres - it is one part police procedural and one part thriller, and the cold case part as well as the recent mystery are equally compelling. The only aspect that I found wanting was the ending because it felt a bit too rushed, as if the author suddenly had the need to finish. It could have been a bit longer and more detailed.

The Galway/Ireland setting is something out of the ordinary, at least for me. The author also succeeds in introducing social topics and aspects of Irish history into the novel without overdoing it or overshadowing the plot or the characters.

I am happy that I discovered this series and hope to read the second installment soon! ( )
  MissBrangwen | Oct 30, 2022 |
Twenty-something engineer Jack commits suicide by jumping off a bridge in Galway city centre—or does he? Is his death really murder, and if so what connection does it have to the suspicious death of his abusive mother some twenty years before?

The Ruin starts off strong, with its evocation of the moribund nature of pre-Celtic Tiger Ireland, the entrenched nature of institutional corruption and dysfunction in the Ireland of the 2010s, and the very personal nature of grief. Those things rang true to me. But as the book progresses, Dervla McTiernan seems to get bogged town in the mechanics of having the various plot parts fit together, the dialogue got worse, and the action climax and the whodunnit reveal were just bad in different ways. McTiernan is strong when she focuses on the specifics of lived experiences, but much less so when she falls back on the tropes of melodramas. Also, a pet hate: a sympathetic character who is about to go through with an abortion has a conveniently timed miscarriage instead, presumably so that the reader will continue to find her sympathetic.

Readable enough, doesn't have me clamouring to continue the series.

(I was a bit eye-rolly at how McTiernan mangled Irish grammar in her claim in the author's note that the title had bilingual meaning. An rún is the secret, na rúin are the secrets, plural, unless she's talking about the tuiseal ginideach, which would make even less sense here. I know that pointing out problems with noun declensions probably seems like nit-picking to a non-Irish speaker but it smacked of trying to be winsome and misty-Celtic-y to gullible Yanks.) ( )
  siriaeve | Aug 31, 2022 |
[b:The Ruin|36588482|The Ruin (Cormac Reilly, #1)|Dervla McTiernan|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1516121922l/36588482._SX50_.jpg|56669056] has all that I look for in a traditional crime novel: great characters, a solid plot and a superior sense of place, with a little social commentary thrown in. I've read that [a:Dervla McTiernan|16918766|Dervla McTiernan|https://images.gr-assets.com/authors/1511184958p2/16918766.jpg] begins her writing process by developing a detailed character study of one of the principals, rather than an idea for a specific crime, and it certainly shows in this book.

Recently I've found myself being overly critical of novels where the sins of the past dictate the events of the present. It's been used as a premise in crime novels so often that it can border on the trite. McTiernan avoids that trap; I felt the connection between a very old, very cold case and events in the present was well done.

In fact, one of the principal strengths of the book is the deft interweaving of the various plot elements, with none of the completely implausible coincidences that are sometimes used to move plots forward or tie up loose ends. Her observations on changes in Irish social values over the decades are equally well done. The book could easily have been diminished by a heavy-handed treatment of her concerns, but fortunately for the reader, she has just the right touch.

I'm definitely looking forward to reading more books in the Cormac Reilly series. A little while ago I started by reading the "prequel" short novel, [b:The Sisters|47956524|The Sisters (Cormac Reilly, #0.5)|Dervla McTiernan|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1567071987l/47956524._SX50_.jpg|73126548], in which McTiernan explores the early career of one of the characters, though not the eponymous Cormac Reilly. An interesting choice by McTiernan, to flesh out one of the lesser characters in the series, but having read the books in sequence I can see how it makes sense.

This is really a 4.5 for me; just shy of a 5. ( )
  BarbKBooks | Aug 15, 2022 |
A knitting designer recommended the books of Dervla McTiernan, set in Ireland. I just finished the first of the Cormac Reilly series and I am very impressed with the writing that delves into the psyche of the characters. The description of the landscape and buildings left me with a longing to visit Ireland. But ever present religious differences expose the under current bitterness of each religious group. So many obscure rules force women to face a life of exile for telling a truth or living a lie in order to find employment and lodging. The Ruin shows the utter helplessness of the social institutions in trying to aid women and children. ( )
  delphimo | Aug 14, 2022 |
more on the 2.5 side, not sure I'll continue the series ( )
  daaft | Aug 13, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 47 (next | show all)
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Epigraph
Ní scéal rúin é más fios do thriúr é.

An Irish saying, meaning 'it's not a secret if a third person knows about it'.
Dedication
To Kenny, my partner in crime. Thank you for the Thursday nights, for the log-lines, and the laughs.
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Cormac leaned forward to peer through the windscreen, then nearly cracked his head on the steering wheel as the car bounced through another pothole.
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Galway 1993: Young Garda Cormac Reilly is called to a scene he will never forget. Two silent, neglected children - fifteen-year-old Maude and five-year-old Jack - are waiting for him at a crumbling country house. Upstairs, their mother lies dead. Twenty years later, a body surfaces in the icy black waters of the River Corrib. At first it looks like an open-and-shut case, but then doubt is cast on the investigation's findings - and the integrity of the police. Cormac is thrown back into the cold case that has haunted him his entire career - what links the two deaths, two decades apart? As he navigates his way through police politics and the ghosts of the past, Detective Reilly uncovers shocking secrets and finds himself questioning who among his colleagues he can trust. What really did happen in that house where he first met Maude and Jack? The Ruin draws us deep into the dark heart of Ireland and asks who will protect you when the authorities can't - or won't.

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