Monday 5 December 2016

Review: The Rising by Brian McGilloway

Published 24/04/2010 | 05:00

This book should carry a health warning for insomniacs -- once taken up, it is impossible to put down. The reader certainly will not fall asleep as the cunningly constructed narrative belts along.

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This is Brian McGilloway's fifth book and the fourth to feature Inspector Benedict Devlin, a garda detective who is never off-duty and is committed to the pursuit and capture of criminals at unsocial hours.

At times, he is a loner, a walking data-bank of criminal intelligence, with an intimate knowledge of his patch and adjacent counties.

It is McGilloway's best yet, as he grows in confidence and scope, both in charting the career of Insp Devlin and in providing a setting and a context in the rain-swept borderlands where Donegal abuts on Derry and Tyrone.

Devlin emerges as a human being with family and relationship problems which interact with those in his professional life.

We get a bleak view of life in small rural towns where the garda's pre-teenage daughter develops a crush on a schoolmate -- the son of the local Mr Big, whom her father suspects of controlling the drug trade in the area.

There is a grim picture too of the penetration of rural communities by drugs, the powerlessness of parents and the rise of vigilantism.

Along with garda brutality, there is the covering-up of evidence to protect or repay informants and the involvement of a garda in serious crime.

Then the penny drops, for this is the Donegal of the Morris Report. It is a challenge for any author to occupy a space between fact, fiction and documentary, but McGilloway does so with elegance and style.

The story opens with Devlin attempting to rescue an old man from a burning barn in which the body of a drug-dealer is later found. It turns out to be murder, rather than accident.

At the same time, the teenage son of a former colleague jumps to his death off a cliff while under the influence of drugs.

These deaths unlock a chain of events which Devlin pursues and which take possession of him, at the expense of professional relationships and family life.

Where all this will leave Insp Devlin, we wait for the next offering to find out.

On this trajectory, McGilloway can only get better.

Irish Independent

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