26 September 2023

The Good Turn

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Reviewed by Robert Goodman.

By Dervla McTiernan, Harper Collins, $32.99.

Dervla McTiernan returns to her award winning series of Irish-based crime novels with another winner in The Good Turn. While the previous two books in this series (The Ruin and The Scholar) centred around lead detective Cormac Reilly, The Good Turn moves the focus onto his young offsider Peter Fisher. But Reilly is still in the mix, and while it is Reilly who has been making enemies in the force, it turns out that Fisher may also be suffering by association.

When the book opens Fisher is in a pretty good place. He has a girlfriend, shares an apartment with an old friend and loves his job. So much so that on his first day off in two weeks he agrees to come into work as the station is once again short-handed. And it is not long before he is embroiled in the suspected kidnapping of a teenage girl. Reilly goes into bat for his team but cannot get more officers to support the search for the girl. Understaffed and with no back-up, Fisher takes some initiative but his efforts end badly and the consequences are immediate.

Fisher is “rescued” from disciplinary action by his estranged father, who runs the police station in a rural village outside of Galway. Swallowing his pride and disgust, Fisher goes to work with his father but it is not long before they are clashing and Fisher is re-investigating a local double murder on the sly. Meanwhile, Reilly is still around – trying to find a way to clear Fisher’s name while digging into the corruption that he suspects exists deep in the Irish police force.

By shifting the focus to a new character, McTiernan not only gives this series much needed additional life but starts to round out supporting characters from earlier novels. If she chooses to stick with these characters, it is not hard to see future books taking other members of the team as their centre. And while the solution is driven by what can only be described as a fairly massive set of coincidences, they are earned, set up back at a disturbing cold open involving a young mother and her daughter.

The Ruin, the first of this series, won a swag of awards. And this series continues to get better, with engaging characters, great atmosphere, constant tension and satisfying resolutions. It would not be surprising if The Good Turn has McTiernan in the running for more awards.

This and 500 more reviews can be found at www.pilebythebed.com.

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