Friday 1 November 2013

Hurt by Brian Mc Gilloway ~~~~ Review & Author Inteview

Late December.  A sixteen-year-old girl is found dead on a train line.  Detective Sergeant Lucy Black from the Public Protection Unit is called to identify the body. The murdered girl, Karen Hughes, having a father in prison and an alcoholic mother had no choice but to live in residential care and DS Black soon discovers the only clue to the girl's movements are her mobile phone and social media - where her 'friends' may not be all they seem.
Meanwhile, Black is still haunted by a young girl's death in a house fire over a year ago.  Her pain is then intensified when she finds her grave vandalised - Black is deeply upset and spurred on in her pledge to find the man she knows is responsible for the fire.  But Lucy has to tread carefully: with a new DI to contend with, and her fractious mother, the Assistant Chief Constable, looking over her shoulder, she can't afford to make a mistake ..... 

Published on 21 November 2013 by C& R Crime, an imprint of Constable & Robinson, Hurt is the second in the Lucy Black series from Brian McGilloway, the sequel to the number one bestseller Little Girl Lost (2011).  McGilloway is also the author of the successful Inspector Benedict Devlin series.

Despite not having read Little Girl Lost it really didn't take me long to become very involved in this story. The author has cleverly included snippets from Lucy Black's past which will help anyone who is discovering this series for the first time.

Hurt is a very tense and often dark story, covering some disturbing issues that expose the vulnerabilities of those young people who have been badly let down - by their families and by society.  Lucy Black is a complex character, fighting her own personal demons and battles, whilst caring passionately for those that she wants to help.

This is a hard-hitting thriller that does not avoid the seedier side of life nor the effects of both the current financial troubles in Northern Ireland and the sectarian battle that has raged in Derry for many years. Although officially now a city of peace, memories are long and the troubles will never be forgotten. McGilloway has cleverly created realistic characters who still bear the scars of battle.  His use of local phrases and dialect gives the story even more realism, but is not off-putting for non-local readers.

Although the crime and the hunt for the perpetrators is at the heart of this story, it is also the story of Lucy Black and her colleagues and the internal office politics play as big as part as the country's politics.

I'm eager to learn more about Lucy and her relationship with her mother; the Assistant Chief Constable, and to see how this progresses throughout the series.   I enjoyed the quite darker aspects, exploring the underworld, the Derry setting and the plot line, despite some disturbing issues.

This a very well-paced story, which ratchets up a gear towards the end.  Crime fiction and police procedural fans will enjoy this.  Lucy Black is a welcome addition to the ranks of fictional detectives.

Brian McGilloway was born in Derry, Northern Ireland, in 1974, and teaches English at St Columb's College, Derry.  He lives near the Irish borderlands with his wife and their four children.  He is the author of six previous novels.    
For more information visit, or follow on Twitter @BrianMcGilloway

My thanks to Lucy from Constable & Robinson who sent my copy for review.  Lucy was also good enough to arrange for Brian McGilloway to visit Random Things and answer a few questions.  I'm delighted to welcome Brian and thank him for his answers which you can read below:

What are you reading at the moment?
I’m reading a proof copy of The First Rule of Survival, a debut crime novel by Paul Mendelson, set in South Africa, which I’m really enjoying so far; it’s very atmospheric.
Do you read reviews of your novels? Do you take them seriously?I do read reviews, in spite of myself, if only because I tend to get very nervous before a book comes out and want to either be reassured or have my worst fears confirmed. If several reviews comment on the same weakness in a book, I think it is something to consider, but ultimately, I think I’m possibly my own worst critic.
How long does it take to write a novel?I write about 1000 words per day, so the physical writing of the novel takes about 3 months. The plotting, planning and crafting of it takes the other 9 months of each year.
Do you have any writing rituals?A friend of mine, my old Latin teacher, Bob McKimm is always the first person to read any new book. He’s become a lucky charm. I also don’t print out any of the book until I’ve completed the first draft, then I work through it with a red pen. (Old teaching habits die hard).
What was your favourite childhood book?When I was very young – Paddington Bear. When I was a little older, John Diamond by Leon Garfield. When I was in my teens – anything by S E Hinton, though The Outsiders and That was Then, This is Now still stick in my head as being particularly powerful.
Name one book that made you laugh?Bill Bryson’s Notes from a Small Island.
Name one book that made you cry?That’s a hard one. I found Cormac McCarthy’s The Road and Raymond Carver’s A New Path to the Waterfall both very moving in different ways. Recently, the scene in NoViolet Bulawayo’s We Need New Names, where the kids decide to perform an abortion using a clothes hanger was hugely powerful. The ending of Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men the first time I read it, maybe?
Which fictional character would you like to meet?Jay Gatsby. It would, of course, also require my going to 1920s America to meet him. 
Which book would you give to your best friend as a present?
Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose, David Guterson’s Snow Falling on Cedars, Tom Wright’s What Dies in Summer are all books I’ve recently gifted to friends, so any of those would apply.
Are you inspired by any particular author or book?When I was struggling to get published, James Lee Burke’s record of the trials of getting The Lost Get Back Boogie into print offered frequent consolation. Burke continues to be inspiration as an artist. Ian Rankin’s Black and Blue was the book that made me want to write crime fiction.
What is your guilty pleasure read?I never feel guilty about what I read. For pleasure, I’ll happily go back to James Bond, though. Recently I took part in a panel discussion on the Booker Prize and had to read the six shortlisted novels in just over a month. As a reward, I’ve just bought myself William Boyd’s Bond novel, Solo, which I’m looking forward to getting stuck into very soon.
Who are your favourite authors?They are too numerous to list. James Lee Burke, Colin Dexter, Ian Rankin and John Connolly were among the first crime novelists that I read, and by extension then, inspired me to write crime fiction so I have a particular fondness for all of their work.
What book have you re-read?One of the benefits (and drawbacks) of being a teacher was getting to read the same book year after year. Some don’t stand too much re-reading. There are ones which I still look forward to revisiting include Dracula, The Moonstone, Hamlet and Lear and my personal favourite, The Great Gatsby. I re-read Eco’s The Names of The Rose recently and, as with Gatsby, I keep finding more things I’d not seen before with each re-reading.
What book have you given up on?Again, too numerous to mention. For a book to really work requires a connection between reader and writer to be made through the text. Some books I just haven’t connected with. That doesn’t make them bad books or me a bad reader – we just didn’t hit it off. 


  1. Thanks for a great review - I read Little Girl Lost and I'm looking forward to reading this sequel.

  2. Mega congrats to Brian for another successful novel. He's one of my favorite crime writers plus he's a great guy!