Brian McGilloway – Preserve the Dead
Hardback: 256 pages (August 2015)
Publisher: Corsair (part of the Little, Brown Book Group UK)
ISBN: 978-1-4721-1894-3 (hardback) 978-1-4721-2039-7 (trade paperback) 978-1-4721-1319-14 (e-book)
This is the third novel in the series of novels by Brian McGilloway featuring Detective Sergeant Lucy Black who works in the Public Protection Unit in Derry/Londonderry, Northern Ireland.
Lucy is visiting her father who is a patient in a secure unit in Gransha Hospital on the banks of the River Foyle – he has been hurt in a fracas with another patient and Lucy finds him chained to the bed for either his or others safety. She barely has time to take this in before an orderly knowing she is in the Police tells her that a body has been spotted floating in the river below…
The body is that of an elderly man in a grey suit and Lucy & the orderly haul him ashore – he is dead and has been so for several days. The post mortem reveals that he has already been embalmed which initiates a full scale investigation as to why the body was dumped and where he came from.
The following day she is called by her friend Tara to help out in a CID investigation of a body found in a rubbish dump after being in a trash compactor – the post mortem reveals that he had been severely beaten in the hours prior to his death.
These 2 strands and that of Lucy’s neighbours spousal abused sister interlink over 6 days in July when the police in Northern Ireland are at their most stretched because of the Twelfth parades.
Lucy’s dedication to the case and to taking care of others causes problems with her private life – be it with her boyfriend who was injured in HURT (the previous novel), her father whose Alzheimer’s is worsening or the mother who abandoned her as a child and is now her boss as the Assistant Chief Commissioner of Police.
This is a solid police procedural driven by old-fashioned detective work rather than technology and set against a backdrop of social unrest (the Police are not trusted by large parts of the community, both Protestant and Catholic) and the aftermath of the collapse of the Celtic tiger which has left people adrift and vulnerable.
Although this is the third in a series, I feel that you could start with this one and read the others later although I would recommend reading them in order (LITTLE GIRL LOST, HURT, PRESERVE THE DEAD) to see how Lucy develops as an officer and how her complex private life has evolved.
PRESERVE THE DEAD is a fast page-turner or clicker (like Brain McGilloways other series featuring Garda Inspector Benedict Devlin and set the other side of the border in Donegal for the most part) and I look forward to seeing the next one.