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Posted: November 3, 2019

Dervla McTiernan a writer to pay attention to

Book Review

By Derryll White

McTiernan, Dervla (2019).  The Scholar.

Dervla McTiernan’s inaugural novel, “The Ruin,” was an exceptional piece of crime fiction.  When I read it I thought “this is worthy of a series.”

‘The Scholar’ picks up the characters from the first novel and advances the story smoothly.  A new series is born.

McTiernan offers up a very clear view of Ireland as she sees it.  She does the background research that makes ‘The Scholar’ consistently interesting.  Medical technology, economy, government priorities – McTiernan examines the facts and has her characters weave these externalities into the story.

This is a complex story with a host of characters but McTiernan keeps it tight and clean, easy to follow.  The relationship between Detective Sergeant Cormac Reilly and Dr. Emma Sweeney teeters, balancing on memory and trust.  Somehow it seems so much more real, walking through the same problems the reader undoubtedly encounters many times in a lifetime.  The author likewise hits on the politics of the workplace in a way that rings true to man or woman.

Dervla McTiernan is a writer to pay attention to, I believe. I am already looking forward to her next release in 2020.


Excerpts from the novel:

FUTURE OF MEDICINE – “My team has designed the little chip that forms the basis of the technology, but there are still some challenges.  That’s why we are in Galway.  My colleague Alessandro – he’s our biomedical engineer – Alessandro is working with me, using computer programs to study the prototype’s fluid dynamics and further refine the channels for maximum blood flow efficiency.  Getting blood flow right is essential if we’re going to make this thing work, and it’s incredibly challenging.  The other challenge is that we need to layer the device with living kidney cells, that can distinguish between toxins that need to be flushed from the body, and nutrients that should be absorbed.”

IRIAH ECONOMY – When the subprime crisis hit America in 2007, liquidity froze, Irish property prices fell by fifty per cent or more, and the fund was suddenly and irrevocably insolvent.  Some of the original partners went broke.  Some of them were wealthy enough that they were able to wash their hands of it, move on to their other investments with nothing more than a backward glance and a lesson learned.

But those little investors, those ager men and women who read the fine print without understanding it and signed on the bottom line, they lost everything.  The banks came for their investment properties, then their family homes.  If they held onto their jobs the banks garnished their incomes.  The Irish government, which had pledged the credit of every Irish man and woman to pay back German bankers, imposed budget repair levies and cut human services to the bone.

RICH PEOPLE – “Rich people commit murder too, Mark,” Cormac said.  “They have a couple of things in common.   These people who have everything and still feel the need to take a life.  The first is that, more often than not, when they finally confess, they give us some convoluted story.  They want their reasons to be heard.  That’s because deep down, right down to their core, rich people believe that they are different, that they are special.”

– Derryll White once wrote books but now chooses to read and write about them.  When not reading he writes history for the web at www.basininstitute.org.

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