Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Review-- Borderlands

Title: Borderlands
Author: Brian McGilloway
ISBN: 9780230020078/ Macmillan New Writing, 2007
Genre: Mystery, #1 in the Inspector Devlin series
Rating: B+

First Line: It was not beyond reason that Angela Cashell's final resting place should straddle the border.

The body of a young girl is found in the Borderlands, the area between the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland. The only clues found with the body are a ring and a photograph. The girl's father, a well-known petty criminal, is more hindrance than help in Garda Inspector Benedict Devlin's investigation. Suddenly Devlin isn't handling one case; he's handling three, as an elderly VIP in a local nursing home complains of an intruder in his room and the body of a young accounting student is discovered in the wreck of a burned out car. Do these cases somehow tie themselves together?

I didn't find all that much new under the sun as far as the plot of Borderlands was concerned, but there were elements that I did enjoy very much. The setting brought home how tricky things can still be along the border between the Irelands. I also enjoyed the character of Ben Devlin, a man of determination, compassion, and the ability to make mistakes...and learn from them.

What came shining through in this book to me was the overwhelming feeling of humanity and compassion. As Devlin stands beside the body of young Angela Cashell, he notices that "Snowflakes settled on her body as gently as kisses and did not melt." People are what matter to Ben Devlin. People are the reason he's a Garda inspector.

While Kathleen Boyle wept, Long and I sat in that room, drank tea and did not speak. We could not leave her-- not as police officers, not as fellow human beings.

As compassionate as he is, Devlin is also a man of anger, and he understands how easy it can be for the police to do the wrong thing. Although Borderlands may not have much new in the way of plot, McGilloway has a talent for writing, for setting and for characterization. This is a series on which I'm going to keep my eye!


  1. Great review, as always. I trust your reviews for mysteries!

  2. Thanks, Kathy! I love being able to share my feelings about what I read with all of you!


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