I had a feeling that the Irish Inspector Devlin series would be exactly my taste so when a friend gave me the third book, I bought this debut plus the second volume myself so I could read them in order.
Already in the first paragraph, we get a strong sense of the setting peculiar to this story:
“It was not beyond reason that Angela Cashell´s final resting place should straddle the border. Presumably, neither those who dumped her corpse, nor, indeed, those who had created the border between the North and South of Ireland in 1920, could understand the vagaries that meant that her body lay half in one country and half in another, in an area known as the borderlands.”
As the border is relatively new, the local population cross the arbitrary border all the time to work, meet friends and commit crimes, and the local police on both sides try to make the best of it by cooperating. Not necessarily flawlessly, but less dramatic and conflict-ridden than a few years earlier.
The story offers a fine mystery; why would anyone kill a sixteen-year-old girl and leave her almost naked, but with a valuable ring on her finger? More deaths take place before Ben Devlin and his colleagues can pin down the murderer, and at some point they realize they have to go back to another case twenty-five years ago when a woman went missing, a case one of their own superiors may have been involved in.
A well-written debut of high quality and lots of suspense. Furthermore, the characters are well-drawn and interesting, especially Ben Devlin who seems to be a good family father and a competent investigator though his flaws, e.g. his nasty temper, make him very human indeed.