Saturday, 17 May 2008


I’ve finished Brian McGilloway’s debut novel, Borderlands, and I enjoyed it. After a steady beginning, the pace develops and there is plenty of action, coupled with a plot of increasing complexity that has its roots (like so many of the best murder plots) buried in the past.

But the book has, in my opinion, two particular stand-out features. The first is the setting, on the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic. Everyone knows that tensions between the two communities have run high for generations. Yet, although it may not be perfect, the peace process seems, from across the water, to have worked astonishingly well, and in a way that few would have dared to dream of twenty years back. McGilloway handles relations between the cops of North and South in a subtle and, as far as I can judge, highly credible way.

The character of Inspector Benedict Devlin himself is another real strength of the book. Devlin is a family man, and a faithful one. Even though he is tempted off the straight and narrow, he doesn’t wander so very far, which is rather unusual in crime fiction. He is an ordinary man, not someone naturally tormented by demons, and yet he still has personal conflicts to resolve. The way that McGilloway addresses these dilemmas struck me as interesting and, again, believable.

All in all, then, a very assured debut. I look forward to the follow-up, Gallows Lane.


Peter Rozovsky said...

I, too, have just finished Borderlands. Naturally I noticed the setting first, as, I think, Brian McGilloway intended, given the book's title and its opening scene. That scene kept me alert throughout my reading for mentions of anything to do with borders (a town or two straddles rivers, for example) or with tension, rivalry and cooperation between the North and the Republic.

Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"

Melissa said...

After reading Landmark Status, I realized my passion for mystery/suspense sub-genres. "Borderlands" certainly looks tempting, and I thuroughly enjoyed your review.