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4.6 out of 5 stars61
4.6 out of 5 stars
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
The fifth outing for Brian McGilloway's Inspector Benedict Devlin, pretty much following the same format as the last book; troubles at home, troubles with lacklustre authorities and troubles with hardened criminals. The first of these troubles tends to sway the novel off the well trodden track of a police investigation into the unfortunate discovery of seven little bodies buried in a non-specific graveyard reserved for unchristened Catholics, amongst others. And it's the 'amongst others' that creates the basis for this story. The Commission for the Location of Victim's Remains discovers the body of a small child whilst searching for another body connected to the killing of an informant.

Devlin knows he cannot pursue an investigation relating to the body they were looking for but he has a hard time being convinced that this rule applies to the little girl. He remains unconvinced. It's a rather complicated plot because these later deaths of the babies all seem to lead to modern day criminals who carry on with their killing under the noses of the investigators. Devlin has, as before, significant help from his friend in the North, DI Jim Hendry, principally because the burying ground straddles the north/south border and Hendry can take a few more liberties.

Devlin's troubles at home centre aound a teenage daughter who was seriously injured in a riding incident in a previous book now finding her rebellious nature leading her to a liaison with the son of Devlin's nemesis, Morrison and Devlin's younger son feeling left out in the family heirarchy. I don't know whether all this social angst works. Another author has tried this but, for me, it tends to slow the pace of the book.

Anyway, Devlin is up and running, making discoveries about missing children, saddened mothers and criminals preying on the desperate need for some to have a child, not necessarily their own.

He's a likeable character is Ben Devlin. He gets the job done, he puts up with his seniors always looking over their shoulder - and his, wondering about their promotion chances. And he faces up to the embedded criminals in the Irish underworld on both sides of the border.

The book reads well, it's entertaining and the author manages to continue with his series, leaving the reader waiting for the next book to see where Devlin might take us.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 25 September 2012
Set against the backdrop of present day Northern Ireland, Inspector Devlin is involved in the Commission for the Location of Victim's Remains, treading a fine line between the violent divisions of the past and the fragile peace of the future. A tip-off has led him to the possible burial place of Declan Cleary - man thought to have been killed for informing on a friend thirty years previously. The rules of the Commission are clear: evidence revealed by the Commission's investigations cannot lead to prosecution. But what if that evidence is discovery of a grave containing the skeleton of a baby who, it appears, did not die of natural causes? Inspector Devlin is a man who takes risks, who follows his nose and who does not like to be told that he cannot investigate what appears to be a sickening crime. So, of course, he investigates it.

What follows is an intriguing mystery, slow-paced at times but still a page-turner. Inspector Devlin's off-road enquiries rake up a past of fraud, greed and violence and the manipulation of young, vulnerable girls giving birth out of wedlock. As he begins to draw together seemingly unconnected people and events, more deaths follow and he puts his own family at risk.

The plot is believable, the characters engaging and if there's one thing I'll remember the book for, it's that scene with the drug dealer and the cess-pit. I'm sorry, I know I shouldn't have but I did laugh!

A good read with a satisfying conclusion.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 5 August 2012
`The Nameless Dead' opens with the continuing search for `The Disappeared' ( the undiscovered bodies of those informers etc who have died during `The Troubles') on a small island midway between the North and South and formerly associated with cross border smuggling. Whilst the search revolves around uncovering the body of a certain Declan Cleary, a number of corpses are found linked to a former mother and baby home on the mainland, all displaying signs of physical deformities and having appeared to have died in suspicious circumstances. The story then spirals out further into an investigation of an illegal baby smuggling operation and the link between all these strands to a seemingly respectable property developer whose father had carried out drug trials at the aforementioned mother and baby home with disastrous consequences. One of the major strengths of McGilloway's writing is his vice-like grip on plot development as all the disparate threads are wound together into a seamless whole, so at no point as a reader are you led to false and unbelievable plot turns. McGilloway always stealthily avoids the over-reliance of some crime writers on the frankly lazy plot device of coincidence, so in conjunction with his strong factual detail and research the plots are always plausible and I always seem to learn something new about Irish history with every book which is an added bonus.

Following on from `The Rising' we are also witness to the trials and tribulations of Devlin's personal life as Penny continues to wreak havoc with Devlin's position as a cop and his son Shane starts to show the first signs of rebellion that his daughter is becoming so accomplished at. I really enjoy these very natural portrayals of the family unit which always seem to impact in some way on the central plot but feel unforced and add another level to the novel.

Married to this we again have a good solid depiction of Devlin as a marvellous combination of the moral yet maverick detective getting himself into scrapes again and as one of his colleagues drily remarks, " He's not a good cop. He's a walking disaster. I only hang around with him to see what he'll do next." which perfectly sums up Devlin's uncanny knack to not only always be involved in the thick of it but to also manage to annoy his superiors at every possible turn. However, contrary to his colleague's tongue in cheek comment, Devlin is a good cop and McGilloway makes us realise this through the skill of his writing and by his solid characterisation of Devlin. A good series that just gets better and better....
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on 13 November 2015
Declan Cleary disappeared 30 years ago and everyone assumed that he was killed because he informed on a friend. Then Commission for Location of Victims' Remains gets a tip that Declan Cleary's body is buried on the small isle of Islandmore in the river Foyle. But instead they find the body of baby and it seems that the baby didn't die of natural causes, but any evidence that is revealed by the Then Commission for Location of Victims' Remains can not lead to prosecution and Inspector Ben Devlin is told that he can't investigate the dead baby since it wouldn't lead to a conviction since the perpetrator is protected from prosecution because of the law that makes people come forth with evidence of where dead bodies are buried protect them from prosecution. But Devlin can't just let go of the dead baby case and then they find more babies buried...

The story was so compelling that I couldn't stop reading the book when I started it. This is the first book in the Inspector Devlin series that I have read, but it never felt like I missed anything by not having read the previous books. From the beginning, I liked Devlin and the rest of the characters in the book and any mentioned of stuff from the past made me just more eager to read the previous book in the series.

I liked that you didn't know if the dead baby and the missing Declan Cleary were connected in any way or and why someone would kill and bury a baby. Everything also gets's more complicated when a person close to Declan Cleary gets murdered. Is there someone out there that doesn't want the truth of what happened 30 years ago to come out?

Devlin also has some person problems, his daughter is recovering from an accident and his son thinks that they prefer his sister to him and it doesn't get better when Devlin, for instance, forgets that they had planned to watch a movie at the cinema and instead get called into work and forgets about that.

I liked this book very much and I'm looking forward to reading this series from the beginning!

4.5 stars

Thanks to Witness Impulse and Edelweiss for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!
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on 6 November 2012
The fifth book in the Inspector Devlin; the reader is familiar with the main characters and the writer is relaxed with his creation.
Brian McGilloway's writing is economic. Punchy descriptions and dialogue.
This is a terrific plot that does justice to the cross boarder conflicts and life after the troubles but is routed in events of the past. BM very skillfully keeps it contemporary; many would draw on a the writer's go to - the slowly revealed past as a separate story unfolding with the main narrative. The real skill is doing justice to things from the past but revealing those facts through detective work and dialogue progression so the mystery is contained and the solution rarely fully focuses until the dramatic conclusion.
The subject matter is grim with serious political struggles and religious shortcomings being touched upon sensitively and without rhetoric or justification leaving the reader to be involved and make their own mind up regarding these matters.
I like that best in novels as it allows you to be fully engaged with the story, its setting and the decisions people make in the knowledge known at the time.
This is McGilloway's skill and makes his books worth reading in terms of his historical context and thought provoking subject matter. At the heart of the story are real people. A crime and the difficulties detectives have in trying to solve the case.
Here we have the digging up of the past which uncovers a number of issues a lot of people would like to stay buried. It is how that premises unravels with the plot that makes this an exceptional novel and a intriguing crime murder mystery.
A book that does not require the reader to have read the previous stories already published; it stands alone as a gripping story from the Border region in Ireland but I guarantee once read you'll be chasing down the earlier episodes of this excellent police procedural series.
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on 20 August 2012
This is the fifth novel by Mr. McGilloway in the Inspector Devlin series, following his excellent standalone novel of 2011, "Little Girl Lost." The present book takes place in just over a one-week period, although the events that give rise to the plot took place many years before, during the time known forever as The Troubles. A commission has been appointed, and supporting legislation passed, to allow investigations into what were termed "The Disappeared," a phrase I had long associated with Argentina in its bloody history of decades ago, and a Commission such as the one described here which dealt with similar ones in South Africa after the end of apartheid - - the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, if memory serves. But the bodies uncovered and the pain of the family members and loved ones in situations such as these are the same wherever in the world they occur, and no matter how many years had passed.

The activities begin with the search for one Declan Cleary, missing since the 3rd of November, 1976. When the Commission received an anonymous tip, as well as a map showing where the remains can be found, they launch an investigation. Devlin, the only detective inspector in the area, is given the assignment. After thirty-five years, it is not an easy task. And of course there is some more contemporary killing, and other unsavory acts uncovered, with the killer not easy to pin down. People from that earlier period must be found and questioned, and unnerving things come to light. The jurisdictional problems for the police are complex, as the en Garda has jurisdiction in the Republic only up to the border; the PSNI the Armed Police who must take over in the North, and the logistics of who can do what to whom must be dealt with.

There are various characters, with complex stories, and events which go back decades and take some interesting and unexpected turns. In his personal life, Devlin must deal with some serious sibling rivalry at home with his two young children, as well as some philosophizing where he realizes that despite a parent's best efforts, we almost all fail in being the parents our children deserve.

A fascinating novel, well-written, though I felt it was somewhat repetitious in spots and could have used some tightening, but overall I enjoyed it, and it is recommended.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 28 December 2012
The Nameless Dead is the fifth instalment of McGilloway's Ben Devlin series. McGilloway has the full measure of Devlin's world - his family, police politics and rivalries, his embedding in the social and criminal landscape of the border. The writing is very assured, with a lovely cadence and pace, and nicely balances plot, characterization, sense of place and contextualisation. With respect to the latter two, The Nameless Dead skilfully weaves together the troubles and sexual politics of the 1970s with the politics of peace and reconciliation and the social realities and landscape of the post-Celtic Tiger crash in the border counties. The plotting is particularly well done, interlacing a number of subplots to produce a layered and textured story that charts both the investigation and Devlin's personal life. Whilst the focus is very much Devlin, importantly McGilloway also adds flesh to the series' secondary characters, and the ongoing subplots adds to the overarching arc of the series. Overall, The Nameless Dead is a satisfying and superior police procedural in what is shaping up to be a very accomplished and enjoyable series.
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on 29 October 2012
As in the previous four Inspector Devlin books, Brian McGilloway serves up a solid police procedural with plenty of soul. And true to his usual form, it's fuelled by Ben Devlin's habit of going against commands from the powers that be. He constantly allows his moral code to lead him into situations he should leave well alone.

In The Nameless Dead an unexpected crime is uncovered when a dig for one of the disappeared unearths the remains of a baby that has been murdered. Due to red tape (typical of Ireland) the baby's death cannot be investigated. Try telling Ben Devlin that, though.

The added layer to McGilloway's work is how his protagonist struggles to be the husband and father he wants to be. No easy task when his job takes so much from him. It's through this that most readers will share a connection with Devlin.

The Nameless Dead is a heartfelt work of crime fiction that is infused with the stark realities of Irish history. McGilloway is unafraid to poke at the sleeping beasts. He is also well-equipped to deal with the consequences. Get wise to his work.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 31 August 2013
This has been my favourite book in the Devlin series. I am enjoying the manner in which various relationships are developing,including family and colleagues. As always there is a good mix of fact and fiction with various interlinked story lines involving different agencies from either side of the border.
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I enjoyed this book. I started reading and didn't want to put it down until it was finished. I like Benedict Devlin - he is a goodie without being sanctimonious, just a good man with a strong moral compass whom we can all relate to. The plot is, I think, all too plausible but I was left a bit dissatisfied at the end as all the baddies did not get their comeuppance. I know this is a ridiculous statement to make after saying the plot was plausible (how often do people get away with crime in real life?) but that's my reaction.
I've kept my dissatisfaction vague in the hope that I'll not spoil what is a good read for others. After all it is only a few pages out of a page turner
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