Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Rising - Brian McGIlloway

Brian McGilloway's fourth Benedict Devlin novel is one of his best. It's safe to say that he has now become Northern Ireland's equivalent of Ian Rankin and because McGilloway writes about the borderlands between the Irish Republic and the north, with the ever present danger of the paramilitaries lurking in the background his stories seem to have more at stake than Rankin's. They also seem much more plausible to me than the police procedurals that take place in Edinburgh or, say, Iceland. For a convincing crime novel, it's long been my contention that you really need a background of criminality if your suspension of disbelief is to remain suspended. The Rising begins when Devlin gets summoned to a farmland where gunshots have disturbed the quiet of the wee hours. Devlin discovers a burning barn with two people inside. He's only able to rescue one of them before getting overcome. The dead man is Martin Kielty (no relation to BBC celebrity Patrick I hope) who is a drug dealer shipping product north and south. Devlin is put on the case. Ok that's it. No more plot spoilers in this review. The story twists and turns like a twisty turny thing (as Blackadder would say) and the characters are believable, morally complex and always interesting.
Unlike so many procedurals these days McGilloway is not solely interested in the end result. The pages do turn but he takes his time to establish landscape, back story and character and he's careful with his language and selection of words. The Rising is a terrific, complex mystery novel. Northern Ireland is indeed fortunate to have such a talented Derry twosome as Brian McGilloway and Garbhan Downey who are at the forefront of the Celtic New Wave in crime writing.