THE LOST AND THE BLIND: “Burke shows again that he’s not just a comic genius, but also a fine dramatic writer and storyteller.” – Booklist. SLAUGHTERS HOUND: “A hardboiled delight.” – Guardian. ABSOLUTE ZERO COOL: “A cross between Raymond Chandler and Flann O’Brien.” – John Banville. “Among the most memorable books of the year, of any genre.” – Sunday Times. THE BIG O: “Imagine Donald Westlake and Richard Stark collaborating on a screwball noir.” – Kirkus Reviews. EIGHTBALL BOOGIE: “One of the sharpest, wittiest books Ive read for ages.” – Sunday Independent.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Review: THE SCHOLAR by Dervla McTiernan

Dervla McTiernan’s debut, The Ruin (2018), introduced Detective Cormac Reilly, recently relocated to Galway from Dublin. In her follow-up, The Scholar (Sphere, €15.99), Cormac’s partner Emma discovers the body of a young woman who has been killed, and badly disfigured, during a hit-and-run outside the Galway laboratories of Darcy Therapeutics. The victim is initially thought to be Carline Darcy, the granddaughter of billionaire pharmacist John Darcy and reputed to be one of the finest young scientific minds of her generation – but when the victim’s true identity is learned, Emma herself becomes a suspect in Cormac’s case. There are shades of Ross Macdonald in McTiernan’s sophomore novel: an austere patriarch, successive generations of a family manifesting the same flawed gene, a self-crippling lust for power, money and status (‘To Carline they were the bloody Kennedys. Everything Carline did, she did because she was trying to earn a ticket to Camelot.’). McTiernan employs the police procedural form rather than that of the private eye, however, and where a single private detective might have been able to turn a blind eye to Emma’s possible involvement in murder, Cormac Reilly has obligations to a more public code of conduct. The result is a complex, densely plotted murder investigation in which the investigators are professionally and emotionally compromised, not least because their opinion of the fabulously wealthy Darcy family is nowhere as impartial as it should be: ‘There was always something morbidly fascinating about the super-rich. It was like sniffing at a piece of meat that had been hung a bit too long, that had a taint of rot about it.’ ~ Declan Burke

  This review appeared in the Irish Times’ crime fiction column for March, which also included new titles from Jo Spain, Stina Jackson, William Boyle and Sofie Laguna.

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