Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Lifford, where murder makes the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland sizzle beneath the snow.
Inspector Benedict Devlin is placed in charge of investigating the matter of Angela Cashell, who’s been suffocated and dumped in a field on the first day of winter. Angela’s father Johnny, a chronic petty criminal, alternately baits and stonewalls Devlin. But his gibes are nothing compared to the torments Devlin endures when senile old Thomas Powell Sr. complains that someone’s been messing about in his room at Finnside Nursing Home and Devlin has to deal with Miriam Powell, the flirtatious ex-girlfriend who married Thomas Powell Jr. The murder of an accounting student from Dublin, shot in the head before his car was torched, strikes fear into the locals but does nothing to clarify the situation. Rousing himself from a mixture of lust, guilt and rage, Devlin becomes convinced that the key to the mystery is a moonstone ring that was practically the only article of clothing Angela Cashell was wearing when she was found. The ring’s checkered history links both murders to the disappearance 25 years ago of a prostitute whose friends in high places are in serious danger from her self-appointed avengers.
McGilloway’s debut is marked by tangled, derivative plotting, exceptionally mature prose and a hero as charismatically volcanic in his own way as Louisiana’s Dave Robicheaux.