The Ruin by Dervla McTiernan


On his first week on the job, Garda Cormac Reilly responds to a call at a decrepit country house to find two silent, neglected children waiting for him – fifteen-year-old Maude and five-year-old Jack. Their mother lies dead upstairs.

Twenty years later, Cormac has left his high-flying career as a detective in Dublin and returned to Galway. As he struggles to navigate the politics of a new police station, Maude and Jack return to haunt him.

What ties a recent suicide to the woman’s death so long ago?
And who among his new colleagues can Cormac really trust?

My Review:

The dark heart of Ireland’s religious past is explored in this gritty crime fiction novel.
I was absolutely hooked, as I raced from cover to cover.

Newbie Garda Cormac Reilly is sent to an isolated location by fellow cop Marcus Tully. The location is so remote, he begins to wonder if this a hazing, due to his short-time on the police force. Eventually, he locates Dower House in the small village of Kilmore. What he finds behind the doors, will shake him to his core and haunt him for many years to come.

A young girl opens the door to reveal a scene of neglect and despair. The house has no power, is cold and riddled with mould. The children appear emaciated and mistreated, with the small boy Jack showing signs of a recent beating. There are items of alcohol and drug use, laying around the property. Cormac is horrified, and he is yet to discover the body. . .

‘How were you supposed to handle traumatised children’

In the upper floor of the property lays the children’s mother. Her life has expired, and the children have been left to fend for themselves. Cormac spots what he thinks are track marks on the mother’s arms.
How did nobody know, what was happening at Dower House?

Cormac takes the young children to the hospital. He feels out of his depth and lost for words. The sight of Maude 15yrs and Jack 5yrs, is one he will never forget.
When Maude goes missing at the hospital, never to be seen again. It adds another layer of mystery, to an already baffling case. But no one asks questions and the case soon becomes forgotten by all.

‘The best interests of the child came second’

20yrs later in Galway, Ireland. A young woman named Aisling is contemplating her future with her partner Jack. She has recently discovered she is pregnant and as a young doctor, it fills her with apprehension for what her future will hold. Her dreams of a career in medicine, seem almost over. Then the Garda arrive. . .

Cormac has suffered a career fall from grace. No longer the golden boy of Dublin’s special detective unit. He must seek pastures new, or for Cormac pastures of old.
The police officers are also looking into the rape and murder of a student. The case draws comparisons to the cold case of Maura Hughes, a young girl who was rumoured to be having an affair with a teacher.

Through Jack’s suicide, Aisling becomes acquainted with his long-lost sister. A sister she never knew existed. The two women become increasingly concerned about the Garda’s assumption, this is a suicide. Jack had everything to live for.
So, who would want Jack dead?

Maude has returned from Australia and we learn she is now a woman of some considerable means. She is driven, determined and has a ruthless quest for justice.
The two women united by grief, won’t rest until they know the truth.

The novel covers various themes well documented in the history. But it does so, with such a personal touch, that you feel distraught at the plight of the young children. As you read on, you want them to have known love, peace and kindness in their adult lives. But life isn’t always fair, and an abused child is never promised a second chance.
A great novel with haunting historical references 5*

Dervla McTiernan

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