Hello dear reader(s) and welcome to another instalment of Nessa reads books and writes reviews (NRBWR). Today I’m reviewing Brian McGilloway’s Inspector Devlin series for you. The series consist of 5 books in chronological order: Borderlands, Gallows Lane, Bleed a River Deep, The Rising and The Nameless Dead. To be quite honest with you dear reader(s), even after I’ve read all 5 novels I’m still not quite sure what to think about this series.
The borderlands between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland are the settings of all the novels in the series. The location of the plot of the books is what drew me to this series in the first place. I was curious to find out how life functioned on the border of the Republic and the North, how the two police forces worked together and how the issue of jurisdiction was dealt with. Sounds like I wanted to read a dissertation or a history book, but as I wrote in my warm-up post for Dewey’s Readathon, crime novels can tell you a lot about life in the location they’re set in. And the books did not disappoint in that front: life on the borderlands was well described, and how the series progressed the author wrote more about the cooperation of the two police forces.
Although I enjoyed the setting, the variety of supporting characters (PSNI DI Jim Hendry should really get a spinoff series) and the plot, my gripe was with the main character – An Garda Inspector Benedict Devlin. He was such a frustrating character and half the time I wanted to slap him silly. I’m not sure if this is personal preference or if other readers faced the same frustrations (I didn’t research this, just couldn’t be bothered), but my impression of him was that he stayed the same throughout all 5 books. Which is an odd thing for a character, but as I was reading I didn’t notice that Devlin as a character grew or changed from when the reader first encounters him in the Borderlands.
Additionally Devlin’s personality really irked me – he is portrayed as a devout Catholic (I have no problem with this) who constantly feels guilty for every single failing he made, no matter how small and insignificant that is. Moreover, he constantly keeps apologising for every single little thing! Come on dude, stop saying you’re sorry all the darn time! Sorry doesn’t fix things! Don’t be sorry, be better! His sense of guilt over every single thing that keeps gnawing at him and his need to somehow confess his “sins” and be better was on occasion just too much! And it’s not like he has some deep, dark secret that he has to feel ashamed of and try to atone! It’s just ordinary stuff like he promised the family he would be home for dinner, but work happened and he couldn’t make it. Enter guilt trip. That type of shite drove me bonkers.
Furthermore, another odd thing bugged me about this series. The even number titles, Gallows Lane and The Rising, had a weaker plot than the odd numbered titles in the series (Borderlands, Bleed a River Deep, The Nameless Dead). Reflecting about it now it’s not that the plots were bad or uninteresting in the even number titles in the series, they were in fact interesting, but there was no je ne sais quoi… Something was missing, they were just not as good. But the odd numbered books that dealt with Irish history, the Troubles and illegal immigrants were just brilliant. Devlin got to shine there and show some of the sass and sarcasm that really suited him. Well it was more him than the Catholic guilt tripping we were usually served with.
All things considered would I recommend this series? In all honesty if you like Irish crime novels and you’re interested in this series because of the location of the novels, do yourself a favour and read the 1st, 3rd and the last book in the series. So read Borderlands, Bleed a River Deep and The Nameless Dead. You can skip the rest without feeling guilty, ‘cause the author retells the previous case if it’s mentioned somewhere in the novel. You’ll enjoy the plot without wanting to hit your head against the wall because the main character irks you. 🙂 And if I’m off the reservation here and you really liked Devlin let me know in the comments down below. I’d love to hear from you!
But before I sign off I’d like to take this opportunity to remind you that on Saturday, 28th April is Dewey’s 24 hour Readathon. For my Croatian readers the Readathon starts on Saturday at 2 P.M and it will end on Sunday, 29th April at 2 PM. I really hope you’ll participate, you don’t have to read for 24 hours, you can read as much or as little as you like. 🙂 Please join us on social networks and cheer for your fellow readers. Until next time dear reader(s)! Happy reading!