With Dervla McTiernan’s brilliant debut novel, The Ruin, taking publishing by storm last year the news that she’s back with a new crime thriller called The Scholar featuring DC Cormac Reilly, is hugely exciting. But you do wonder, will it live up to her first book?
‘An incendiary page turner…superior haunting novel of murder, deception and ethical dilemma,’ said Books+Publishing of The Ruin, comparing McTiernan to giants of the genre, Ian Rankin and Tana French.
Fear not, The Scholar is another compelling novel full of atmosphere, rife with tension, a
gripping multi-layered mystery that proves almost impossible to put down and is enriched by some very astute observations about the world we live in today. Not to mention a great cast of characters.
The Scholar, set in Galway, a harbour city on Ireland’s west coast, begins with a tragedy. Dr Emma Sweeney, on her way home from Galway university one night, stumbles upon the body of a hit and run victim. She immediately calls her partner, Detective Cormac Reilly, introducing him to the scene of a murder that he otherwise never would have been assigned given his job is to investigate cold cases.
The victim is a woman, and in her pocket is a security card identifying her as Carline Darcy, a gifted student and heir to the Irish pharmaceutical giant, Darcy Therapeutics. The multi-billion dollar company, founded by Carline’s grandfather, is a cornerstone of the community, sponsoring university research facilities, funding political parties, and even funding Emma’s own ground-breaking research. The stakes are high, and an enquiry into Carline’s death promises to cause controversy and stir a few pots.
Despite pressures from both his superiors in the police force and the pharmaceutical giant to keep the case low profile, Cormac continues to investigate, unveiling more troubling information. Not all his colleagues are enamoured of the superior, intelligent Cormac whose quiet doggedness is one of his biggest strengths as an investigator. Trouble is, the deeper he digs, the more mounting evidence he finds that links the death to a Darcy laboratory, and, worse still, to Emma herself. With others chipping away at Cormac he’s forced to question his objectivity, all the while coming face to face with the immense and corrupting power of the super-rich and an intricate web of lies and secrets that can be kept hidden if you have enough money.
The Scholar is a compelling crime novel about loyalty and liability, political agenda and corporate corruption. Like The Ruin, it’s full of delicious detail, and centres on a crime that is motivated not only by personal agenda, but by forces much more insidious because they are trusted, highly respectable institutions.
And if like me you were a bit interested in Cormac and Emma’s relationship, you’ll be delighted to know that The Scholar reveals more about them and their history.
McTiernan’s astute take on the crime genre is again in evidence in this her second book, with the electric suspense not only attached to the burning desire to know whodunnit, but to the crime itself and the question of corruption and unethical business-dealings at the highest levels. Ring any bells?
With the The Scholar, McTiernan has not only delivered another complete and deeply satisfying read, but proved that The Ruin was no fluke and that she thoroughly deserves to be up there with the likes of Rankin and French.
McTiernan, you’re a wonder.
About the author:
Dervla McTiernan was born in County Cork, Ireland to a family of seven. She studied corporate law at the National University of Ireland, Galway and the Law Society of Ireland, and practiced as a lawyer for twelve years. Following the global financial crisis she moved with her family to Western Australia, where she now works for the Mental Health commission. In 2015 she submitted a story for the Sisters in Crime Scarlet Stiletto competition and was shortlisted. This inspired her to complete the novel that would become The Rúin. She lives in Perth with her husband and two children.