The Rúin, Dervla McTiernan (Harper Collins)

Book cover for The Ruin by Dervla McTiernan

The Rúin, Dervla McTiernan (Harper Collins)

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It has been twenty years since young Irish police officer Cormac Reilly discovered the body of Hilaria Blake in her decaying mansion, and he has never forgotten the two neglected children she left behind. Now, having recently moved to Galway as a Detective, Reilly is instructed to reopen the cold case. The case has links to the recent death of a young man ─ a death which
the police are very quick to claim is suicide. The deceased man’s long lost sister arrives and suspects foul play, and she is determined to prove it.
Trust and betrayal are at the heart of this unsettling, fast-paced, intricately plotted detective novel. Mystery, intrigue, complex twists and turns, police corruption, and Ireland’s dark history of child abuse ─ this atmospheric crime novel has it all.

About the author
Dervla McTiernan was born in Ireland. She studied corporate law and practiced as a lawyer for twelve years. She now lives with her family in Perth, Western Australia and works for the Mental Health Commission. The Rúin is her first novel.

Questions for Discussion

  • The troubled, self-medicating protagonist is a familiar character in crime fiction. Cormac Reilly differs greatly from this: he is calm, methodical and committed in his work, a supportive partner, and a nice person with a good heart. Why do you think the author created this sort of main character?
  • Aisling Conroy is clearly an intelligent person yet she doesn’t question the police’s handling of her partner Jack’s death. Why do you think she was so accepting of the police’s conclusions?
  • Some crime novels take the reader on a journey of discovery, one clue at a time, the reader only ever knowing as much as the characters who are investigating. Others let the reader in on secrets while the characters are still in the dark. What is your preference?
  • As the story reaches its conclusion, we discover that two of the characters have managed to keep their true characters hidden for many years despite committing appalling acts. How have they managed this? Can you think of real life examples of this situation?
  • Many aspects of modern Ireland’s unique history are part of the fabric of The Rúin: unwanted children, adoption, abortion, abuse, and the inability of the authorities to protect children. What does the author’s depiction of these aspects say about this history and its continuing impact on the country?
  • Given their difficult childhoods, how could the Maude and Tom characters have turned out differently?
  • Both Cormac and Aisling are distracted from conducting clear-eyed investigations. What distracts each of them and what are the consequences?
  • Cormac is not only new to his colleagues in Galway, but he is also an outsider. Why is that? How does that impact on his investigation?
  • Discuss how the author represents the garda in this novel. How does this differ from some other ‘police procedurals’?
  • For the most part, the novel is told through the alternating point of view of Cormac and Aisling. Then in one chapter, we see from Maude’s point of view and in in another from Tom’s. What are the advantages of this approach?

If you liked this book, you might also like:

  • The Hidden Hours, Sara Foster (Simon & Schuster).
  • The Windy Season, Sam Carmody (Allen & Unwin).
  • Burn Patterns, Ron Elliott (Fremantle Press).
  • Line of Sight, Zero at the Bone (both Penguin), and Old Scores (Fremantle Press), David WhishWilson. The Frank Swann series.
  • Prime Cut, Getting Warmer, and Bad Seed, Alan Carter (Fremantle Press). The Cato Kwong
  • Flare Up and Flash Point, Felicity Young (Harper Collins). The Cam Fraser mysteries.

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