After a stellar twenty-five year career, culminating in the position of the detective sergeant leading the Special Detective Unit’s anti-terrorist section in Dublin, Cormac Reilly moves back to Galway with his partner, Emma, who has received a highly prestigious research grant. His new role is a step down. He expected to have to prove himself before he was accepted at Galway, but after four weeks of being sidelined to work alone on cold cases Cormac is beginning to feel frustrated.
Aisling, the second protagonist, is an interesting contrast to Cormac. She is a focused, 25 year old doctor in the process of applying for a position in a training program as a paediatric surgeon. She is working hard to prove herself to open the doors to her career. The weekend that she confirms her unplanned pregnancy, her partner, Jack, is found dead.
Jack’s case is one of many being investigated in Galway. The initial evidence points to suicide. The police are reluctant to view it differently, even when Jack’s estranged sister suddenly appears, asking questions about the case and claiming it should be viewed as a murder investigation. Jack’s sister draws Aisling into a dangerous search to discover the truth about Jack’s death.
Cormac also becomes suspicious about the case. He begins to sense a cover-up, particularly when he is forced to open a cold case that he attended twenty years ago. His investigation makes him question his initial findings, the integrity of some of the officers around him, and the current investigation into Jack’s death. There are surprising links between the two cases that create increasing intrigue until the ultimate unexpected conclusion.
The Ruin is an enjoyable story with strong characters and lots of suspense. The two protagonists are an interesting contrast. Both are professional in highly competitive work forces. Aisling is at the beginning of her medical career and working hard to establish her place. Cormac had successfully worked his way up the ladder in the police force, stopping at the point where he realised a promotion would take him away from investigative work and into management and politics. As a result, he takes a posting that will support the work of his partner. This is reflective of current society where a couple consist of two people who both have strong careers and a highly skilled professional may choose to take a step down in their career to support their partner’s success. There are hints at the conflict within Cormac as periodically he wistfully considers the impact on his career and reminds himself of the fact that he willingly chose the transfer to support Emma.
Both Cormac and Aisling refer to the constant brutal competition that they engage in at work. Cormac’s situation is amplified by his career choice as he tries to break into the tightly knit group at Galway. As a result, The Ruin is an interesting look at the internal politics of the police force and some of the tragic investigations that police commonly work on. It is also a highly engaging story that I would willingly read again.