Borderlands (Inspector Devlin Series #1)

Borderlands (Inspector Devlin Series #1)

by Brian McGilloway

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The snow ceased as the assistant state pathologist arrived, black medical bag in hand. I stood by the river as she worked, and watched the sun exploding low over the horizon.

          From the New York Times bestselling author of Little Girl Lost comes a new voice in Irish crime fiction.

          Winter 2002. The corpse of local teenager Angela Cashell is found on the Tyrone-Donegal border, between the North and South of Ireland, in an area known as the Borderlands. Garda Inspector Benedict Devlin heads the investigation. The only clues are a gold ring placed on the girl’s finger and an old photograph, left where she died.

While Devlin searches for the girl’s killer, her father has his own ideas about who is responsible—and his own ideas about how to make them pay. Meanwhile, Devlin becomes reacquainted with an old flame eager to rekindle their affair.

Then another teenager is murdered, and Devlin unearths a link between the recent killings and the disappearance of a prostitute twenty-five years earlier—a case in which he fears one of his own colleagues is implicated. As a thickening snow storm blurs the border between North and South, Devlin finds the distinction between right and wrong, vengeance and justice, and even police officer and criminal becoming equally unclear.

A dazzling and highly lyrical debut crime novel, Borderlands marks the beginning of a compelling new series featuring Inspector Benedict Devlin.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781429947428
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 09/18/2009
Series: Inspector Devlin Series , #1
Sold by: Macmillan
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 117,580
File size: 266 KB

About the Author

New York Times bestselling author of Little Girl Lost, Brian McGilloway was born in Derry, Northern Ireland, in 1974 and teaches at St. Columb’s College, Derry. Previously he has written plays and short stories. Borderlands is his first novel, and was shortlisted for the 2007 New Blood Dagger award. He lives near the Borderlands, with his wife and their two sons.

Read an Excerpt

Angela CashellChapter OneSaturday, 21st December 2002It 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.The peculiarities of the Irish border are famous. Eighty years ago it was drawn through fields, farms and rivers by civil servants who knew little more about the area than that which they’d learnt from a map. Now, people live with the consequences, owning houses where TV licences are bought in the North and the electricity needed to run them is paid for in the South.When a crime occurs in an area not clearly in one jurisdiction or another, the Irish Republic’s An Garda Siochana and the Police Service of Northern Ireland work together, each offering all the practical help and advice they can, the lead detective determined generally by either the location of the body or the nationality of the victim.Consequently then, I stood with my colleagues from An Garda facing our northern counterparts through the snowheavy wind which came running up the river. The sky above us, bruised purple and yellow in the dying sun, promised no reprieve.We shook hands, exchanged greetings and moved to where the girl lay, prone but for one hand, which was turned towards the sky. The medical examiner, a local doctor named John Mulrooney, was kneeling beside the girl’s naked body, testing her muscles for signs of rigor mortis. Her head rested at his knees. Her hair was blonde at the ends, but honey-coloured closer to her scalp, her skin white and clean except for thin scratches across her back and legs caused by the brambles through which her body had fallen. A Scene of Crime Officer leaned in close to her, examining the cuts as the medical examiner pointed them out, and took photographs.We watched as three or four Gardai moved in to help turn her over. I stepped back and stared across the water to the northern side, where the arthritic limbs of the trees stretched towards the snow clouds, the black branches rattling in the winter wind.‘Do you recognize her, sir?’ one of the northerners asked, and I turned back to the girl, whose face was now exposed. My vision blurred momentarily as a breeze shivered across the river’s surface. Then my sight cleared and I moved over and knelt beside her, suppressing the urge to take off my jacket and cover her with it, at least until the SOCOs were finished.‘That’s Johnny Cashell’s girl,’ a uniformed Garda said, ‘from Clipton Place.’I nodded my agreement. ‘He’s right,’ I said, turning to the northern Inspector, a man called Jim Hendry, whose rank was the same as mine but whose experience was vastly greater. ‘She’s ours, I’m afraid.’He nodded without looking at me. Hendry was at least a head taller than me, well over six feet, with a wiry frame and dirty, fair hair. He sported a thin, sandy moustache at which he tugged when under stress; he did so now. ‘Poor girl,’ he said.Her face was fresh and young; she was fifteen or sixteen at most. She wore make-up in a way that reminded me of my own daughter, Penny, when she played at being a grown-up with my wife’s cosmetics. The blue eye-shadow was too heavily applied, contrasting with the redness of her eyes where the veins had burst in her final moments. Her whole face had assumed a light-blue hue. Her mouth was partially opened in a rictus of pain; the bright red lipstick she had so carefully applied was smeared across her face in streaks.Her small breasts carried purple bruises the size and shape of a man’s hands. One bruise, smaller and darker than the others, resembled a love bite. Snowflakes settled on her body as gently as kisses and did not melt.Her trunk and thighs were ivory white, though her arms and the lower parts of her legs were tanned with cosmetics, the streaks and misapplication clear now against her pallor. A pinkish colour was forming on her legs and chest. She wore plain white cotton pants which were inside out.‘Well, Doc?’ I asked the ME, ‘What do you think?’He stood up and peeled off the rubber gloves he had been wearing. Then he stepped away from the body and took a cigarette offered to him by a Garda officer. ‘Hard to say. The body is fairly stiff, but it was a cold night so I can’t really give you time of death. More than six hours, no more than twelve. You’ll know better when the autopsy’s done. Cause of death — I can’t be totally sure of that either, but I’d say the bruising on her chest is significant. That blue tinting of the face is caused by smothering or crushing of the chest. That, and the chest bruising, would suggest suffocation, but that’s an educated guess. Lividity indicates she was moved after she died, though you hardly need me to tell you that. Naked women don’t just appear in the middle of fields.’‘Signs of struggle?’ Hendry asked.‘Signs of something. Her fingernails are bitten so close I doubt you’ll get anything from under them. Sorry I can’t be more help, Ben,’ he said to me. ‘I can tell you that she’s dead, and that someone killed her and dumped her here, so it’s over to you now. The state pathologist will be here as soon as possible.’‘Presumably this was sexual,’ I said.‘Don’t know for sure. The pathologist will take swabs as a matter of course. Personally, I’d say fairly likely. Good luck, Ben. Take it easy.’ With that he dropped the gloves into his case, lifted it and walked up the embankment to his car, barely looking at the body as he passed it.I looked again at the girl. Her hands rested on the leaves beneath her, the bright red nail polish a little incongruous on fingers so small and on nails bitten so near to the quick. There was a little dirt around her nails, and soon enough a SOCO wrapped her hands in plastic bags which he secured at her wrist. I noticed that, on her right hand, she wore a gold ring set with some type of stone. It looked too old-fashioned for a girl of her age; a family heirloom, a gift from a parent or grandparent, perhaps. The stone was tinted green, like a moonstone, and surrounded by diamonds. I asked the photographer to take a shot of it. As he did so, the flash illuminated an engraving on the band.‘Looks like something’s written on it, sir,’ he said, crouching right down and holding the camera in one hand as he angled her hand slightly with his other. Then he focused the camera tight on the ring. ‘I think it says AC, sir: her initials.’I nodded for no particular reason and turned again to the group of northerners.‘Shitty enough one to get the week before Christmas, Devlin. Good luck to you,’ Hendry said, nipping off the end of his cigarette, then putting the butt in his pocket so as not to contaminate the crime scene. That was a bit of a joke. Our resources in the arse-end of Donegal are hardly FBI quality and, besides a dozen or so policemen and the waiting ambulance crew and the group of poachers who had discovered the body, God only knew how many other people had tramped back and forth past the body and along the roadway where those who dumped it must have stopped.We would look for distinctive tyre treads, footprints, and so on, and try to find whatever forensics we could, but the spot where this body had been abandoned, though secluded, was only a few hundred yards behind the local Cineplex. On weekend nights this whole stretch of lane was lined with cars, each respecting the other’s space, obeying an unspoken rule of privacy to which I had myself subscribed when younger, when I was finally allowed to take my father’s car to collect my girlfriend. The makes of cars had changed since then – and I tell myself, in moments of righteous indignation (though I accept that it’s probably not true), that the kind of activities in which the couples engage has probably changed too. However, the place remained the same – as dark and furtive as any of the clumsy embraces which take place on back seats there at night. Indeed, it was possible that Angela Cashell had met her death in such a car.‘They might have been from your side,’ I said to Hendry, motioning towards the top of the embankment, where those who had left her must have stood.‘They possibly are,’ he agreed, ‘but this one’s yours. This must be your first murder since—’‘1883,’ replied one of ours. ‘And he was hung!’‘Rightly bloody so,’ agreed another northerner.‘Oh, there’s been more since,’ I said. ‘We just haven’t found all the bodies yet.’Hendry laughed. ‘We’ll help any way we can, Devlin, but you’re the lead on this.’ He looked at Angela one last time. ‘She was a lovely-looking girl. I’d hate to have to tell her parents.’‘Jesus, don’t talk,’ I replied. ‘You don’t know her father, Johnny Cashell.’‘Oh, I know enough,’ Hendry replied darkly and winked. ‘British Intelligence isn’t totally down the drain yet.’ With that, we shook hands and he walked off towards his own side, steadying himself against the thick buffets of air carrying the smell of the water across the borderlands.

Johnny Cashell was known to all the Gardai in Lifford on a firstname basis, having spent many nights in the holding cell of the small police station in the centre of our village. In fact, when the county council recently gave the whole village a facelift, putting new lamps and hanging-baskets all around the cobbled square and benches along the main roads, we named the bench outside the station ‘Sadie’s’, in recognition of the amount of time spent on it by Cashell’s wife while she waited for him to be released in the morning from the drunk-tank.Johnny Cashell was an obdurate man with a chip against anyone better educated than himself. He would hold court in the local bars, boasting of all he had achieved despite having left school at fourteen. In reality, he was a petty criminal, stealing from phone boxes and charity tins, and pissing it against the wall of the Military Post as he staggered past on his way home.No matter how low Johnny sank, Sadie was always waiting for him, even when he stole his mother-in-law’s pension book. However, we all had to reconsider Sadie’s loyalty to Johnny when he got out after serving nine months for that. Three months later she gave birth to a baby girl, the only member of the Cashell family who didn’t have Johnny’s bright copper colouring but a head washed in wisps of white-blonde. They called the girl Angela, and Johnny cared for her as if she were his own, as far as anyone knew never questioning her parentage. We all suspected that secretly it hurt him – the bright blonde so obviously at odds with the fiery reds of her siblings. In weaker moments, when Johnny shouted profanities from the holding cells until we couldn’t take it any more, we taunted him about his blonde-haired daughter and how she was the prettiest of the bunch. The slightest comment was enough to silence him and ensure a full night’s sleep for whoever was stuck on duty because of him.The snow ceased as the assistant state pathologist arrived, black medical bag in hand. I stood by the river as she worked, wondering what to say to Johnny Cashell, and watched the sun exploding low over the horizon, turning the ribs of the clouds first pink, then purple and orange.

Cashell was a barrel-chested, red-faced man with thick, curly red hair that he kept tied back in a ponytail. He dressed as if from a charity shop and his clothes had a musty, damp odour. He was more particular about his feet, and I never met him wearing the same pair of trainers twice: they were always new and always a brand label. When you spoke to him he looked at the ground, scrunching up his toes so you could see the movements through the white leather of his shoes. When he spoke it was not to your face but to a spot just to the left, as though someone else waited at your shoulder for his words. All his children had developed the same habit, which their social worker had thought of as rude until she got to know them.As we stood at his doorway, he stared at his shoes while I told him of his daughter’s death and invited him to identify her. Then he looked past me, his eyes flickering with grief or anger. He exhaled a breath which he seemed to have been holding since I arrived, and I thought I could smell drink under the cigarette smoke.‘It’s her,’ he said. ‘I know it’s her. Sh’ain’t been home these two days. Went out to Strabane on Thursday.’ He leaned back a little, as though steadying himself against the door jamb, the sunlight burnishing to gold the red curls on the back of his hands.Sadie Cashell appeared behind him, face ashen, seemingly having overheard our conversation. She was drying her hands on a dishcloth. ‘What is it, Johnny?’ she asked with suspicion.‘They’ve gone and found Angela. They think she’s dead, Ma!’ he said. And with that his lips softened and his face crumpled.He spluttered rather than cried, spit and tears dribbling down his chin. His eyes stopped flickering as the final rays of sunlight stole from the sky and the world darkened almost imperceptibly.‘How?’ Sadie demanded, her jaw muscles quivering.‘We … we don’t know yet, Sadie,’ I said. ‘We think someone has killed her, I’m afraid.’‘There’s been some mistake,’ she said, her voice rising hysterically, her grip tightening on her husband’s arm until her knuckles whitened. ‘You’re wrong.’‘I’m sorry, Sadie,’ I said. ‘I’ll … we’ll do what we can. I promise.’ She stared at me, as if waiting for me to say something else, then turned and went inside.Johnny Cashell snuffed through his nose, his face turned towards Strabane. I guessed that Sadie had broken the news to their children, for I could hear the cries of girls begin from inside the house, the sound building quickly to a crescendo.‘We need you to come to the morgue, Mr Cashell. To identify her. If you don’t mind.’‘She needn’t be there now. Bring her home,’ he said.‘Mr Cashell, we have things we have to do, sir, to find out what happened to her. You mightn’t get her back for a day or two, I’m afraid.’He took a tin from his pocket and removed a rolled cigarette from it, put it in his mouth and lit it. Then he spat a piece of tobacco from his tongue and looked once more in my direction, just beyond my shoulder. ‘I know what happened to her. I’ll deal with it,’ he said.‘What do you mean? What do you think happened, Mr Cashell?’ I asked.‘Never mind,’ he said, still not looking at me.His wife reappeared at the door. ‘Where’s my girl, John?’ she asked her husband. He pointed to me with his thumb.‘He says we can’t have her yet. She ain’t ready to come home, he says.’‘Who did it?’ she demanded.‘I … we don’t know, Mrs Cashell,’ I said, glancing at her husband. ‘We’re working on it.’‘You’re fast enough to pick up on innocent people in the street, maybe has a drink. Now you’re slow all of a sudden. Some rich girl, you’d be faster, I’d say.’‘Mrs Cashell,’ I said, ‘I promise we will deal with this as quickly as possible. Can I speak with your other daughters, please?’Sadie looked first at me, then at her husband, who shrugged his shoulders and walked away from the door, still smoking. Then she allowed me in.

Angela’s three sisters were seated around a table in the kitchen. They looked remarkably similar. A baby, dressed only in a nappy, clung to the chest of one of them, bunching up her white blouse in his fist.I sat at the table and took out my cigarettes.‘No smoking around my wee’un,’ said the young mother, tapping her own cigarette ash onto the linoleum floor.I did not put the cigarette away, nor did I light it. The youngest daughter was still crying, but the other girls stared at me, one red-eyed, one vaguely defiant, as if unwilling to show emotions in front of a Guard.‘I need some help in finding out what happened to Angela,’ I said. ‘Perhaps you could tell me people she was with, boyfriends, that sort of thing.’The youngest girl opened her mouth as though to speak but was interrupted by the one holding the baby, whose name I seemed to remember was Christine.‘We don’t know nothing, Inspector.’ She pronounced each syllable of the title deliberately and with as much disdain as she could muster. I noticed that she alone, of all the sisters, had not cried since she had heard the news. Her eyes were clear and white. Aware of my gaze, she looked down at her baby instead, her head tilted slightly to one side.I turned to the youngest girl. ‘Were you going to tell me something?’ I said. ‘To help me?’She glanced furtively at her sister, then lowered her head and stared at her hands, which were joined in her lap. She looked undernourished, her bony pink hands like baby birds in a nest.Christine spoke again. ‘Like I already told you’, she said, ‘we don’t know nothing.’ With that, she lifted her baby’s bottle and began to feed him, holding the cigarette in her mouth and squinting through the smoke.I asked Sadie if I could see Angela’s room. She led me up the stairs in silence, pushed open one of the bedroom doors and waited for me to go in. I was a little surprised to find the room so tidy, and at the same time a little ashamed at the unworthiness of the thought. A window dominated the far wall, facing onto the backyard.The room looked freshly painted, a lavender tint; the carpet and bed linen were light green. A poster of someone called Orlando Bloom had been tacked carefully to the wall behind the bed. The wardrobe was packed with clothes, neatly arranged and hung according to type and size. I spotted the corner of a paperback on the floor, peeping out from the overhanging bedspread. I recognized the author as one whom my wife Debbie read. Flicking through the pages absentmindedly as I looked around the room, I noticed that Angela had been using a strip of passport photographs as a bookmark. The strip showed the half-faces of two girls, grinning in from the white border on either side. One of them was Angela. In the final picture their faces touched lightly and Angela was no longer smiling, yet seemed all the more content. It saddened me to see her so alive. I held the pictures up to Sadie and asked her who the other girl was, but she simply shrugged her shoulders and asked if I was finished. I replaced the strip of pictures, careful not to lose the page, before I realized the futility of the gesture.In the corner of the room there was an old CD player and a plastic rack with a dozen or so discs sitting under a freestanding mirror. Most of the bands I either did not know or had heard of only from Penny. Strangely, I noticed in the middle a CD by the Divine Comedy, whom I had seen perform in Dublin a few years previously. It seemed a little incongruous among all the boy bands. I asked Sadie about the CD. Again she shrugged and moved into the hallway, making it clear that she did not wish for me to remain in her daughter’s bedroom. I thanked her and offered my condolences again as I made my way downstairs and outside to arrange for Johnny Cashell to identify the body.He was still standing in his front yard when I left the house, picking the last remaining deadheads off a floribunda rose bush. The heads themselves were heavy and brown, hanging low. He broke them off with his hand, clasping fists full of dead petals.‘I am sorry, Mr Cashell.’ I said, shaking his free hand. ‘There is one other thing. Can you tell me what Angela was wearing when last you saw her?’‘Jeans, probably. A blue hooded thing her ma bought her for her birthday, I think. ‘Twere only last month. Why? Don’t you know what she’s wearing?’As a father myself, I could not deprive him of his assumption that his daughter had retained some vestige of dignity in death. I opened my mouth to speak, but the air between us was brittle and sharp with the scent of decaying leaves and I could think of nothing adequate to say.

When I returned to the station, Burgess, our Desk Sergeant, told me that I was wanted immediately by the Superintendent. Costello – or Elvis to everyone who spoke of him (though not to his face) – was famous in Lifford, having served here, in and out of uniform, for almost thirty years. It was suspected that he knew many of the family secrets that most people preferred to keep buried. It meant that, in the village, he was universally admired but secretly mistrusted. However, he never knowingly used the information he had gathered unless absolutely necessary, and he excused many ancient crimes on the grounds that if they had not merited punishment at the time, how could they do so now? By rights he should have been stationed in Letterkenny, which is the centre of the Donegal division, but following his wife Emily’s mastectomy several years earlier, he had requested and been granted permission to use Lifford as his headquarters.His nickname came not only from his surname, but also his Christian name, Oily; more than once, Gardai called to public-order disturbances had been greeted with a drunken chorus of ‘Oliver’s Army’, despite the fact that his name was actually Alphonsus. The name stuck to the force in Lifford in much the same way that Elvis stuck with Costello. He never said it, but I think he was secretly pleased by the nickname, taking it as a tacit sign of affection, recognition of his position as an institution of sorts.‘Cashell is a Cork man,’ he said now, straightening his tie in the mirror hung behind his office door. His position meant that he was the only person in the station to have his own office, while the rest of us shared rooms. In fairness, Elvis had been careful not to rub our faces in his perks: the furnishing was perfunctory, not expensive.‘Really?’ I asked, unsure of his point.‘Yes. Moved here when he was three. A lot of us suspected at the time that they were travellers, but his family rented out towards St Johnston. He got placed in Clipton Place after he got Sadie pregnant the first time. Didn’t fit in too well to begin with.’‘Apparently not,’ I said. ‘Drove the neighbours on one side out with the noise, drove the neighbours on the other side out with a claw hammer.’‘For which he was cautioned. Still, this is a terrible thing to happen. How did he take it?’‘As you would expect. He seemed shattered. I thought one of the daughters was going to tell me something, but the rest of the family closed tight.’‘Years of mistrust, Benedict, learnt at the dinner table.’ Costello is also the only person I know who refers to me by my full Christian name, as if it would be unmannerly of him to do otherwise. ‘Leave them a day or two and try again. Maybe when fewer of them are about.’‘Yes, sir.’‘Have you a jacket?’ he asked, nodding at the informality of my jeans and jumper – one of the few perks of being a Detective.‘Not with me.’‘Nip home and get changed. You’re doing a press conference at five. RTE’ll be here, and the northern stations, so look sharp.’ I had reached the door when he added, ‘They haven’t found her clothes yet, Benedict. I’ve requested the Water Unit to search the river in the morning. The PSNI have said they’ll help. It’ll be an early start.’

The press conference was the first that I had done and, while probably quite low-key in comparison with other such events, it was daunting to face the banks of lights, cameras and microphones. Costello read a prepared statement, then invited questions. My role, I had been told, was to sit there so he could identify me for the cameras. That way, justice would not be faceless, he said, without a hint of irony. I was also to handle any operational questions which Costello couldn’t answer, though I was told not to go into specifics. It was strange hearing our voices echo back at us with a slight delay, almost mocking the fact that, despite all that we said to reassure the public, we had no idea who had killed Angela Cashell, how she had been killed or, more worryingly, why someone would kill a fifteen-year-old girl and dump her naked body on a river bank.

Penny and Shane were granted a maternal dispensation to stay up past bedtime to watch Daddy on TV. They almost fell asleep, though, during the main report, which was on the US President’s announcement that 50,000 troops were to be sent to supplement the 60,000 already stationed in the Middle East.When the brief article on the Cashell murder was finally aired, it was sandwiched between a report on the rising price of housing and a story about a drug trafficker who had been murdered in Dublin. The newscasters expressed more sincere concern about the house prices than the death of the unnamed dealer.As I placed Shane in his cot, I heard a knock on the door, and a few seconds later the sound of Debbie inviting a visitor in. I peered out through our bedroom window and saw our neighbour Mark Anderson’s pick-up truck parked in the driveway. Mark actually lived over half a mile away, but he owned all the land bordering our house, fields in which he grazed his sheep and cattle. He was an odd, socially awkward man, and I was surprised to see him. The only time he had called on us before was to appeal for leniency after I arrested his son, Malachy, who had been caught peeping in Sharon Kennedy’s bedroom window from the tree outside her house. Her husband had felled the tree that same evening.When I came back downstairs Anderson was sitting in the living room, perched so close to the edge of the sofa he looked as though he would fall off. He stood up when I came in and I smiled and extended my hand. ‘Happy Christmas, Mark,’ I said. ‘Good to see you.’He did not reciprocate my smile or greeting but said simply, ‘Your dog’s been annoying my sheep.’‘Excuse me,’ I said, moving over to where Debbie was sitting.‘Your dog’s been worrying my sheep. I saw it.’Our dog is a six-year-old basset-hound called Frank, which I bought for Debbie on our fifth wedding anniversary when it seemed we could not have children. Four months after we bought him, Debbie found out she was pregnant with Penny, and so Frank became very much my dog. Now that Penny was older, she too had become attached to him. At night we kept him locked in a shed we built for him, and I told Anderson as much.‘I know what I seen,’ he said. ‘Anything happens to any of my sheep, I’ll put a bullet in the mutt. I’ve warned you.’Penny, who had stopped watching the TV at the start of the conversation, now stared up at Anderson open-mouthed and panic-stricken.‘There’s no need for threats, Mark. Frank’s a good dog and I don’t think he’d be annoying your sheep. I’m sure you’re mistaken, but we’ll keep an extra careful eye on him.’ I winked at Penny conspiratorially. She tried to smile back, but did so without confidence.‘Well, don’t say I didn’t warn you. If that dog’s in my field, I’ll kill it,’ he repeated, then nodded, as though we had had a conversation about the weather, and bade us a happy Christmas.When he left, Penny sidled over to me and tugged on my trouser leg. ‘Is he gonna hurt Frank, Daddy?’ Her voice cracked as she spoke and her eyes reddened.‘No, sweetie,’ Debbie said, and came over and lifted her in her arms. ‘Daddy’ll make sure that Frank stays inside every night, then nothing will happen to him. Isn’t that right, Daddy?’ she said, looking at me while hugging Penny into her and swaying lightly from side to side.‘That’s right, sweetheart,’ I said. ‘Frank will be alright.’Copyright Brian McGilloway 2008

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Borderlands (Inspector Devlin Series #1) 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 32 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Borderlands is one of the best crime fiction books I have had the pleasure of reading in a long time. The skillful narrative takes the reader deep into the heart of Ireland's Borderland and probes not only the difficulties of a case that crosses all sorts of jurisdictional boundaries but also some of Ireland's darker past. It was exceptionally well written, with a quick, concise pace and clear, memorable details, which a lesser-skilled writer may not have handled as eloquently in keeping the defined the twists and turns of catching a modern day killer and inadvertantly solving a long-forgotten cold case. I will follow this enjoyable seies closely.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found "Borderlands" hard to put down. It was full of twists and turns, with different characters pulled into the plot, to make it difficult to determine who did the crime. A great job by Brian McGilloway.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very good book. I was very pleased with this purchase.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A good, hard hitting, intense murder mystery. Set in Ireland. Not chick lit. Violent. For adults. AD
macabr More than 1 year ago
"Brian McGilloway's debut novel, BORDERLANDS, is another highly entertaining book set in Ireland in the area between County Donegal (the republic of Ireland) and County Tyrone of the north. An Garda Siochana (the Guardians of the Peace) of the republic and the police service of Northern Ireland have come to work together when events straddle the border. "The body of a young girl is found in the fields and she is recognized as coming from a town in the Irish republic so Inspector Benedict Devlin takes charge of the case. The people of the town of Lifford have inhabited the area for generations and, like small towns everywhere, there are no secrets and everyone knows everyone else's histories. "McGilloway knows the Irish and captures the nuances that grow out of shared memories, faith, and community. It is December and as Christmas approaches another body surfaces and Devlin realizes that there is a connection between the two deaths and a disappearance 25 years before. "The characters are drawn clearly and the conclusion is satisfying. I look forward to the next book featuring Devlin and the town of Lifford."
harstan More than 1 year ago
A lucid example of politicians and bureaucrats who never visit the outcome zone before making decisions is the border separating Northern Ireland and Ireland drawn in 1920 without regard to geography or property rights. The imaginary line cuts through farms. When a corpse is found on both sides of the demarcation, the Garda Siochana and the Police Service help one another solve the case juresdiction is based on either which side has more of the body or in dispute which country the deceased belonged to don¿t even bother to figure out third country residents. --- Thus when the body of fifteen years old Angela Cashell is found lying across the border, jurisdiction is resolved by Garda Police Inspector Benedict Devlin who insists he knows the teen as a citizen of Ireland. No one argues as he leads the investigation into her homicide. At the crime scene, Angela was wearing a gold ring that her family members deny ever seeing before as none recognize it. Local mourners leave flowers where she died honoring the victim, but someone left amongst the foliage an old photograph that seems out of place. Devlin focuses on teenager Whitey McKelvey, a member of the itinerant ¿Travelers¿ as the prime suspect until a second murder with that same old photo occurs that exonerates the lad. Devlin knows the case is much deeper than the River Shannon, but not who or why. --- The key to this strong Irish police procedural is the background at the BORDERLANDS where an informal cooperation between the cops was forged eight decades ago that remains in effect and a more tenuous peace between the local residents and the 'Travelers¿. Benedict is a solid lead character as he has some personal issues that make him human, but not enough to overwhelm the prime whodunit story line. Brian McGilloway writes a strong opening investigative tale that sub-genre fans will welcome. --- Harriet Klausner
sunniefromoz on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A well written police procedural is one of the reasons I'm so addicted to crime fiction. A good police procedural will introduce you to the police,take you by the land and lead you through their investigation as they unearth clues by interviewing people, sifting the evidence and following leads. There will be a careful balance of detecting and learning about the lives of the detectives. If the author has done the job properly s/he doesn't deliberately hold back clues or have the the detectives catch the culprit in the act, just two pages before the end.In his first novel, BORDERLANDS, Brian McGilloway has succeeded in all of the above. He has also avoided producing a door stop of a book. At just 227 pages, BORDERLAND doesn't muck about. You're straight into the story with no unnecessary padding. It's something I wish more authors would try to achieve.If, like me, you enjoy police procedurals, you can't go wrong with BORDERLANDS. I look forward to reading more of McGilloway's writing.
johnbsheridan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An engaging debut that I've had in my TBR list for awhile and I'm glad I finally got round to reading it. I'm usually reluctant to read mysteries set in Ireland (my home country) as I never really manage to bypass the sense that the bodycount in these books would never actually happen in reality so while the murder statistics actually peaked in 2007 at 77 for the whole year for the whole country the fact that the author manages to squeeze in so many (relatively speaking) in such a short period of time in a sparsely populated part of the country should jar but somehow doesn't so congratulations on achieving that feat. If I were to compare to another Irish author it would probably be to Declan Hughes (this is based solely on reading the first book in each of their respective series) I would have to side with McGilloway as being the more convincing so on to the next in line for each and we shall see who prevails.
maneekuhi on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Borderlands is rated 4.0 and completed 7/7/11. At 50% point good story and characters and wanted to read more 15 year old girl dies from poisoned "e" pill and a guy is shot in the head. Prime suspect dies in custody. Supervisor appears suspicious to our cop hero. Bodies start to fall like shamrocks, bit of a stretch. Tidy conclusion, but a very disconcerting "thanks" from the cleared supv at the end.... Read more in series? Maybe.
Eyejaybee on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Absolutely excellent, with that extra savour of serendipity! I knew nothing about this novel and picked it up entirely by chance.Set in the grey area along the border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic, this novel starts with the seemingly inexplicable murder of Angela Cashell, eldest daughter of a local low-life. As the police of both jurisdictions work together to try to unravel the mystery another youngster is murdered, again without apparent motive.Inspector Benedict Devlin, of the Garda, leads the investigation, coming up against a local traveller community as well as the shadows cast by "The Troubles" by which this area had been so dreadfully disfigured.The novel is written with a great lucidity, and while there are numerous twists and complications, the plot is always utterly plausible.Definitely a great find!
FMRox on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Inspector Benedict Devlin heads up the investigation of series of murders that begin with the death of a 16 year-old girl. The book has a good developing plot but too many characters. It was hard to keep up with who was who. The ending wrapped up in a nice dialogue on 1-2 pages as it was too complex to play out, I guess?
debavp on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Another author I was not familiar with prior to a brief check. I was again pleasantly surprised. McGilloway ascribes such a rare humanity to the lead character, Devlin. A much younger and Irish version of Connelly's Bosch would be accurate and if you added a wee bit tamer, Sandford's Davenport. McGilloway thankfully doesn't go into too great a detail with the differences between North and South, just enough that you appreciate how frustrating the area known as Borderlands can be to both and how far things politic have progressed and how far they still have to go. No, the story here does have politics involved, but it's much more a human story. Another example of how one act, years ago, can wreck such havoc to so many innocent lives so many years later. I am looking forward to reading what's up next for Devlin.
cycoduck on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
For his first run at a mystery, McGilloway hit a home run. Inspector Devlin has plenty of faults, but still has the brains and courage to solve the difficult crime. I thoroughly enjoyed the book, will definitely look for the second in the series.
Bumpersmom on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Evenly paced mystery I found both interesting and well written. As an introduction to a new series, the main character is Inspector Devlin and takes place in the area between Northern and Southern Ireland named The Borderlands. The book begins with the discovery of a body, that of a teenage girl who appears to have been murdered. Soon to follow are several other obvious murders, seemingly linked.Inspector Devlin's character is not the sharpest crayon in the box, and this makes him more human or real to the reader, he makes mistakes, ones that change the course of the investigation, leads to more bodies and shifts in the plot, including what happened to a woman who disappeared more than 20 years ago.The author brings all the pieces together for a satisfying conclusion and solution. While it didn't get my pulse racing or heart pounding with excitement, the book was an interesting read, and I would buy the next installment in the series.
bakersfieldbarbara on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Irish, crime, and a new series by Brian McGilloway add up to a great novel. " Borderlines" is set in the border between the North and the South of Ireland. A teenage murder gets complicated as it unearths a link between other recent killings and the past."Borderlines" presents a flawed detective, which only becomes knows as the reader follows the labyrintine compexity of this new mystery series. Ireland is the perfect setting for the coping-as-best they can citizens in this complex novel. Right or wrong, vengeance or justice, police officer or criminal..all are here and baffling as it may be at times, the ending came too soon for me. A touch of Alfred Hitchcock, surely.I will be first in line for the second in this series about Inspector Devlin.
Blanchard on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Brian McGilloway's maiden voyage of Borderlands is an auspicious one for us. He places us squarely on the border in the first sentence, where we find a body that lies half in Northern Ireland and half in the Southern part of the country. His protagonist/detective, Ben (Benedict to one superior officer) Devlin is a totally believable man complete with failings and virtues that are totally understandable. This is a different animal of police procedural, mostly due to the rural Irish location. I had not been familiar with the term "Travellers" before reading this ARC and I gather that they resemble Gypsies but not of the Romany tribe. I must do some research on them someday soon. The ending is not one of the "shock" surprise ilk but has some satisfying twists and turns with a generally satisfying end result. I look forward to McGilloway's next in the series.
kraaivrouw on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In the past couple of years there has been a lot of good new crime fiction coming out of Ireland so I was pleased to find even more! Borderlands introduces us to An Garda Inspector Benedict Devlin, working on the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.I like police procedurals and this is a good one made even more interesting to me because of its setting. Borders are interesting places and border towns even more so as the people on each side spill over and influence each other. There is a perpetual sense of ambiguity that makes these places transgressive and McGilloway definitely captures that.Benedict Devlin has the potential to be a recurring police character who will be worth reading about. He carries his own set of ambiguities that will make him interesting to read. I like that he's not a super cop - sometimes he's competent and sometimes the obvious flies by, but he keeps on banging away at the problem until he gets some resolution.There are interesting secondary characters here, as well, as plenty of twists and turns. All in all a good read and a good first outing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great Read altogether!!!
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Work stupid thing!!!
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I am a fan of crime mystery fiction and enjoyed this book very much. It definitely "hooked" me fairly early on, and it was fun going to another country. It is very well written, and I look to another Brian McGilloway novel.
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