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Monday, 24 February 2014

‘Hurt’ by Brian McGilloway

Published by Constable and Robinson Crime, 
21 November 2013.
 ISBN: : 978-1-47211-979-5 (hardback); 
978-1-47211-114-2 (paperback)

DS Lucy Black from the Public Protection Unit  is called out to identify the body of a teenage girl, Karen, found dead on the train tracks, she has been missing for three days and, as a target of the care system Lucy had come across her several times.  The murdered girl’s father, is a convicted murderer himself, and is in jail and it is assumed that perhaps the link has cost his daughter her life.  Lucy is not so sure.

Set in Derry after the end of the “troubles” this start police procedural highlights some of the sensitivities of investing any crime where past history and politics can rear their ugly heads.  As DS Black uncovers some uncomfortable truths about the conviction of Karen’s father for the murder of a young girl and in the process knocks some senior noses out of joint, including that of her estranged mother, the Assistant Chief Constable.

The investigation uncovers further layers to the murder which include collusion, paedophilia and drug dealing along with the undercurrent of Irish tensions between the police and the populous.  DS Black tries to deal with this, along with her own problems with her mother, her alcoholic boss and some history of her own which occasionally influences her ability to do her job without prejudice. 

This is a tight, tense novel with dark overtones hinting at the ease with which people bow to pressure and power in any environment, praying on the weak and pressuring those who want to fight it.  Lucy, the main protagonist, is written as conflicted and poor in her judgement of situations at times, which makes her more real.  This along with the stark reality of the location and history makes the tough subjects covered by the novel even more harrowing and therefore more engaging for the reader.

This is a tough uncompromising thriller, enjoyable for the writing and the characters, but not a light holiday read.
Reviewer: Amanda Brown

Brian McGilloway was born in Derry, Northern Ireland in 1974. After studying English at Queen’s University, Belfast, he took up a teaching position in St Columb’s College in Derry, where he is currently Head of English.  His first novel, Borderlands, published by Macmillan New Writing, was shortlisted for the CWA New Blood Dagger 2007 and was hailed by The Times as ‘one of (2007’s) most impressive debuts.’ Brian lives near the Irish borderlands with his wife, daughter and three sons.

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