Book review: The Nameless Dead by Brian McGilloway

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The Troubles in Northern Ireland have rarely proved an attractive proposition for novelists, and Derry author and teacher Brian McGilloway’s ‘no frills’ crime thriller series set in the notoriously dangerous Borderlands is as dark as one would expect.

Dead babies, the terrible grief of families whose murdered loved ones became the Disappeared and the lasting legacy of the province’s violent divisions cast a brooding and sorrowful shadow over the latest outing for Inspector Ben Devlin in a taut, self-consciously social and political murder mystery.

But don’t be fooled into thinking that the shadows cast are too long and too overpowering ... McGilloway’s elegant, almost elegiac, writing and his humane, sensitive Garda detective raise The Nameless Dead from a gloomy reflection on Northern Ireland’s past to a poignant, perfectly-pitched crime story which counterbalances fictional drama with factual history.

 

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