Wednesday, March 04, 2009

BLEED A RIVER DEEP, Brian McGilloway

MacMillan, April '09, ISBN 978-0230701366, £12.99

In the last few years, Ireland has been consistently upping the stakes with its contribution to the world of crime fiction. From cult figures such as Ken Bruen to bestsellers such as Tana French and John Connolly, the world of Irish crime fiction has never been more vibrant.

And now we can add the name of Brian McGilloway to the list.

His latest Inspector Devlin novel takes place with Irelands very own literal gold rush. Devlin is assigned to the security of a gold mine that has been opened up following the discovery of a possible seam near his patch. Its the perfect metaphor for the new money that has been pumping into Ireland these last few years, a theme that many of these writers - including Declan Hughes and Ken Bruen - have been dealing with, but McGilloway adds his own spin on proceedings as he proceeds to view proceedings from the view of Ireland's police force, the Garda; contrasting nicely with the private investigator and outsider heroes that have seemed more preferential in other Irish Crime fiction of late. McGilloway also touches on issues of immigration, human trafficking and other moral and political questions during the rapid course of his narrative. As with the best crime fiction, the commentary is hidden between the lines.

The character of Devlin himself is a fine creation and singles himself out from the herd of series characters constantly jostling for attention on the Crime Fiction scene. He's a damn fine copper. Headstrong, sure, but balanced and professional. Maybe he doesn't see eye to eye with his bosses, but he's a family man with a strong moral streak in him. Don't mistake any of this for dullness or weakness, however. When his moral code is challenged, Devlin rises to the challenge and pays the price professionally and sometimes personally for his dedication to the meaning of the job over the procedure of it all.

Bleed a River Deep was Crime Scene Scotland's first exposure to the work of McGilloway, and given this tight, smartly written and gripping third novel, it won't be our last.

Russel D McLean for, 6/01/09