Not the Booker: The Ruin by Dervla McTiernan review – thriller lost in plot

Opening with a powerful, sensitively drawn portrait of two bereaved children, this book’s drama soon becomes mechanical

Dervla McTiernan’s path to publication has been unusually smooth. That’s not the same as easy. She clearly had to put in plenty of hard yards, writing at nights after finishing up at her day job and putting her children to bed. But still. She says she started writing in earnest in 2014, having given herself five years to make a go of it – but that within just two years (by early December 2016) she found herself the subject of publishing auction and signed up for a two-book deal.

“It helped,” she has said, “that I had a story, or at least the beginning of one. It was a single image, really. A girl, 15-year-old Maude Blake, sits on the stairs in a ...