Inspector Benedict "Ben" Devlin has a babysitting assignment in GALLOWS LANE. James Kerr has been released from jail and Devlin's superintendent, Costello, wants Kerr to stay in Northern Ireland. Devlin's job is to convince him to do so. However, Kerr has a mission. He needs to see "a man" to get something "off his chest." Then he'll be gone, he assures Devlin. But shortly thereafter people start dying unnaturally. Kerr is the prime suspect until he is crucified on Gallows Lane. Devlin is determined to stop the carnage, especially when his family is in danger.
GALLOWS LANE is a complex police procedural that has equal parts psychological action and physical action. Devlin battles internally with what is right and what is wrong as his wife challenges his loyalty to their family. She believes that he selfishly puts their family in harms way for the glory of his job. While Devlin struggles with this internally, externally he's faced with knowledge of a corrupt colleague vying for promotion as well as his own unlawful act performed in an effort to secure justice.
McGilloway's style is magnetic. His sharp, crisp dialogue flows naturally and often accompanied by dry humor. The development of the characters is superb. Devlin is in many ways the classic crime fiction detective and in other ways uniquely McGilloway's creation. McGilloway also sets the tone of the novel immediately through development of James Kerr:
"James on the straight and narrow right up until the day, just a week shy of his sixteenth birthday, when he discovered that Mary was his half-sister, the product of one of his father's clandestine affairs. Things became further complicated when it transpired that Mary was pregnant with James's child and, in the manner of parochial Irish towns countrywide, the girl was sent to live with an aunt in England and James became the wandering protagonist in his own personal Greek tragedy."
And so with that wandering protagonist walking straight into Devlin's life, the story begins.
GALLOWS LANE doesn't move like a thriller novel, instead the reader moves along more like the convicts who once walked the road: slowly, analyzing each step of their lives and how those steps brought them to this point. As readers experience Devlin's psychological struggles, they will likely find it difficult not to question what their own decisions would be and then realize they would struggle no less than Devlin. Beware of GALLOWS LANE, McGilloway may very well get inside your head and start moving around those "truths" you've held locked inside.
GALLOWS LANE is the second book in the Inspector Devlin series. I look forward to more from McGilloway and his troubled inspector.
GALLOWS LANE will be released in the United States this week from St. Martin's Minotaur in hardcover (ISBN: 978-0312384326).