Bleed a River Deep (Inspector Devlin Mystery) by Brian McGilloway

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Bleed a River Deep (Inspector Devlin Mystery) by Brian McGilloway

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Category: Crime
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: The third book in the series sees Inspector Devlin tackling the problems of illegal immigration, big business and organised crime. A refreshing protagonist and excellent plotting make for a recommended read.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 304 Date: April 2009
Publisher: Macmillan
ISBN: 978-0230701366

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There's a little bit of Ireland – that's the country that occupies the south of the island - that actually sits to the north of Northern Ireland. Donegal has always been a bit different, that bit wilder and it's home to Brian McGilloway's Inspector Devlin mysteries. The third book in the series finds Devlin responsible for the safety of a controversial US Senator at the opening of a gold mine. It's bad enough when Cathal Hagan is shot and worse still when you realise that the last time you saw the man with the gun he was playing cowboys and Indians with your little brother.

We've all grown used to (perhaps even bored by) the hard-drinking copper, brilliant at his job but disliked by his superiors and unable to maintain any sort of personal relationship for long. They're universal and something of a cliché – so Benedict Devlin is a breath of fresh air. He's happily married with two delightful children and Sundays mean going to Mass. That doesn't mean that this is a tame book, though – it's anything but.

There's a look at the realities behind one of the great problems of our age – illegal immigration – and the reasons why people risk all to ride the Celtic Tiger. It's not just getting to Ireland that's risky and uncomfortable – once in the country the immigrants are in debt to the people who brought them and living in dreadful conditions. Life is cheap and when two bodies are found Devlin begins to suspect that the new gold mine is not quite what it seems.

World politics and local problems impact in an area where a few miles away across the border with Northern Ireland Devlin has no authority. There's little to choose between big business and organised crime – and there's always the added complication of sectarian problems which might not have the impact which they had a while ago, but the tensions are never far below the surface.

The book is well-written with enough twists in the plot to keep a corkscrew happy. I thought I had the ending worked out but I was a way off – it was very satisfying. I've only two small quibbles about the book. The first is that it seemed to take a little while to get into its stride and even telling us about the shooting of the senator some ten days before it happened didn't really do the trick for me, but once the book did get going it was impossible to put it down and I was still reading at three in the morning to see how it worked out.

The other point is about one of the characters. Most characters come off the page fully formed and even Devlin's children are a delight sketched out in a few words, but Devlin's boss, Superintendent Patterson is a different matter. He seemed to be there just to be wrong, to be difficult and objectionable. He was as much a cliché as the hard-drinking detective so disliked by his superiors.

I'm being picky though. It's been suggested that this series could be up there with Rebus, Resnick et al. That's a little generous at the moment (or too high an expectation, depending on your viewpoint) but the book compares well with early to mid period work by Rankin and Harvey. You'll not be wasting your time reading the book and this could well be a series to watch in the future.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

We're always on the lookout for new crime writers and Bookbag was impressed by the early work of Chris Simms. For more Irish crime we can recommend Christine Falls by Benjamin Black.

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Buy Bleed a River Deep (Inspector Devlin Mystery) by Brian McGilloway at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Bleed a River Deep (Inspector Devlin Mystery) by Brian McGilloway at


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