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by Dervla McTiernan
Blackstone Publishing, August 2021
405 pages
ISBN: 8200696345

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Third in the series starring Irish detective Cormac Reilly, THE GOOD TURN opens with a kidnapping and quickly encompasses drug dealing, murder, and police corruption, all set against an idyllic Irish landscape. And while all the crimes are compelling as plot elements, the true driver of the action lies in the complexities of the relationships among the characters. Reilly is struggling with his personal relationship as well as with outright hostility and interference in his professional capacity. Garda Peter Fisher takes professional risks to save a child and ends up being relocated to the village of Roundstone to avoid—he hopes—prosecution and the end of his career, but working in Roundstone means he has to report to his estranged, overbearing father and face long-avoided issues. Swirling under all of that is the suspicion of police corruption, and Dervla McTiernan increases the tension by subtly planting hints that leave the reader wondering just exactly who the good guys are, even while tentatively rooting for one side over the other. It's a masterful stroke that keeps interest high while both reader and characters walk a tightrope that could (and repeatedly appears to) lead to disaster and shattered expectations.

Another well-wielded device McTiernan uses is to have multiple plot lines running at the same time: this isn't a tightly focused, one-murder, one-solution mystery, and each of the crimes is complexly constructed. The overall result keeps the reader both baffled and intrigued, wondering how all the pieces will fit together as well as what the solutions will be. In the end, coincidence plays a rather larger role than might be strictly admissible, but there's enough truth in the groundwork that the reader is inclined to allow it. Plus, the story is so good and so well told, it's easy enough to let the rather-hard-to-believe coincidence slide.

Those who have read the first two books in the series will have a bit of a leg up on those who begin here as far as knowing the characters and their backgrounds, but THE GOOD TURN works fine as a stand-alone novel—and as an enticement to read the previous books in the series. With strong story lines, even stronger characters, and satisfying solutions, THE GOOD TURN is a fast, engrossing read that will leave the reader wanting more.

§ Meredith Frazier, a writer with a background in English literature, lives in Dallas, Texas

Reviewed by Meredith Frazier, September 2021

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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