Initially, L. J. Hurst worked in the backrooms of the media industry. He now divides his time between work for an international scientific publisher and a rather more British independent bookseller. In years past he was a regular attendee at the Shots on the Page Festivals from whence Shots Mag sprung
Bleed A River Deep is Brian McGilloway’s third Inspector Ben Devlin novel, where Devlin is an officer in the Irish police, An Garda Siochana, based in Donegal in the north-west of Ulster who finds himself frequently having to liaise with his PSNI counterparts just across the border.
In fact, Devlin’s Donegal is a lot more international than that, as an American gold mining conglomerate have arrived on the scene, with workings out in the wilds due to be visited by even more important Americans, while in Lifford town centre an illegal immigrant finds out the hard way that he should not try to rob a rob on the day that the army is making a cash delivery.
His Chechen nationality can be deduced from the prayer card in Cyrillic in his pocket, but not from the ID card which gives him a good Irish identity; suggesting that whatever desperation drove him to try to rob a bank, sometime earlier he had been in receipt of care from some much bigger operation which could bring him to Ireland and change his name.
Clearly that care has come to an end, so Devlin needs to learn who else is receiving it so that he can close down the people traffickers. What Devlin is going to discover is misery, and his good intentions are going to make more people miserable.
In the previous novel, Gallows Lane (just out in paperback), Devlin lost on promotion when his Superintendent retired, and his rival, Harry Patterson, took the post based on the kudos of some dodgy evidence. Patterson has not eased up on Devlin and Devlin knows that a slip in the planning of the American Senator, or the investigation of the bank shooting, or even upsetting the American bosses at the mine who have brought in rare investment, all could give Patterson more ammunition in his war of attrition. In fact, through a few misplaced words, and a couple of unintentional pieces of foolishness, Devlin does provide that ammunition. It does not stop him investigating, though it means he is going to find more crime on his way.
Meanwhile, out in the woods, not just environmental protesters, but all sorts of dreamers are starting to make their way to the river to try prospecting for gold themselves. Most of them will find nothing while the river will prove to run with death. Investigating that second death will take Devlin backwards and forwards across the border. Readers will have to remember that while that crossing changes the meaning of things – red becomes green, for instance - it does not change the nature of crime. The people traffickers must be moving just as easily.
Devlin is unusual among (fictional) police officers – he has a young family, a wife who understands and tolerates him, he can cope. On the other hand, he is still struggling to understand that ultimately the lives of both rich and poor immigrants, from other parts of the island as well as abroad, may prove to be self deceiving and without reward. He will not learn that at home.