Brian McGilloway

1974- ; Derry-born crime writer; ed. QUB; winner of Irish Drama Award for Lighting, 1996; became Head of English at St. Columb’s, Derry, and later moved to Holy Cross, Strabane; author of novels all featuring his detective character Ben Devlin, a detective and family man stationed at Lifford, beginning with Borderlands (2007), set on the Tyrone-Donegal border, characterised by Declan Burke as ‘dark fiction that knows no boundaries’ by Declan Burke (Irish Times, 28 Oct. 2007); signed with Macmillan for a trilogy continuing with Gallows Lane (2008), nominated for Irish Book Awards Crime Fiction prize, 2009; followed by Bleed a River Deep (2009), set in Donegal goldmine at time of arrival of American diplomat; named as New York Times best-selling author; various short-list nominations in crime fiction; his 2013 radio-essay in the BBC “If Walls Could Talk” series explores how Derry shaped him as a writer; m. Tanya, with three boys.

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Detective fiction (Benedict Devlin Ser.)
  • Borderlands (London: Pan Macmillan 2007).
  • Gallows Lane (London: Pan Macmillan 2008).
  • Bleed a River Deep (London: Pan Macmillan 2009).]
  • The Rising (London: Pan Macmillan 2010).
  • The Nameless Dead (London: Constable 2012).
  • Blood Ties (London: Constable 2021)
Lucy Black Ser.
  • Little Girl Lost (London: Pan Macmillan 2011)
  • Hurt (London: Constable and Robinson 2013).
  • Preserve the Dead (London: Corsair 2016).
  • Bad Blood (London: Little Brown 2017).
Other novels
  • The Last Crossing (London: Dome Press 2020).
  • The Empty Room (London: Constable 2022).
  • “If Walls Could Talk” [essay] (BBC 16 Oct. 2013) [available online; accessed 18.11.2023].

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Culture Northern Ireland [anon.] - quotes: ‘I wanted something different. Instead of the hard drinking, maverick, divorcee stereotype I wanted someone that was relatively well-adjusted, relatively normal.’ Bleed A River Deep [is] named after an Ed Harcourt track; opens in a newly-opened Donegal gold mine on the eve of the arrival of a controversial US diplomat; big business and the new Europe; migrant-smuggling ring operating from Strabane and conditions of its victims; reflects experience of Oksana Sukhanova, the Ukranian woman who lost both legs to frost-bite sleeping rough in Coleraine. Quote McGilloway:

‘That person travelled halfway across the world in the hope of a better quality of life and look what happened,’ McGilloway comments. ‘I thought it was a sad reflection of the state of our society.’ Devlin mirrors the author’s robust social conscience - in Bleed A River Deep the inspector invites into his home a Chechen woman forced into prostitution in the north after her husband is shot dead during a botched robbery in Lifford.

‘I didn’t want Borderlands to be another Troubles book. That’s not been my intention with any of them,’ Instead of masked men and politics McGilloway gives his readers a fascinating insight into life on both sides of a changing and increasingly porous border. Devlin finds it difficult to separate north and south, often treading on the toes of his PSNI counterpart Jim Hendry.’

‘Originally Devlin was going to be a PSNI man but at the time I was writing Borderlands things were changing so much. The old RUC were being disbanded, but Sinn Fein were refusing to join the Policing Board. So I thought by the time I’d finished the book everything could have changed, and I’d end up with a novel that was anachronistic before it was even published.’

Fourth of five contracted Devlin books to appear 2010; McGilloway is commencing a stand-alone book in which the main character is a PSNI officer. Quotes: ‘I’m still not looking to write from a political angle.’ (Feature article on McGilloway at Culture Northern - online; 24.04.2013.)

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