It was not beyond reason that Angela Cashell’s final resting place should straddle the border. Presumably, neither those who dumped her corpse, nor, indeed, those who had created the border between the North and South of Ireland in 1920, could understand the vagaries that meant that her body lay half in one country and half in another, in an area known as the borderlands.”
Angela is the fifteen year-old daughter of Johnny Cashell, a man well-known on both sides of the border, a thief, a trouble-maker, and a pair of fists for anyone willing to pay the price. It is a few days before Christmas and no man deserves to be told his child has been murdered and left, nearly naked, in a cold, barren no-man’s land.
Angela is wearing an unusual and expensive ring engraved with her initials. No one in her family recognizes it; her sisters say Angela didn’t wear gold. Near the location of the body is the picture of a woman that no one in the family recognizes either. Angela has not been molested and some dignity has been left to her by whoever placed her in the field since it it obvious that she was killed somewhere else. The police have nothing that gives them a place to start.
Garda Inspector Benedict Devlin becomes the lead investigator in the case because Angela was a citizen of the Republic of Ireland. As the police investigate, they learn that in the days before her body was found, Angela had spent time with Yvonne Coyle, a nurse, at a club in Strabane in the north but Yvonne claims she knows nothing about Angela’s friends. And she knows nothing about the ring.
Three days later, the body of Terry Boyle is found in Gallow’s Lane, burned beyond recognition. Terry had returned from the university for Christmas and had gone out to meet friends. He had never been in trouble, there is no connection to Angela Cashell, and yet, there is another murdered teenager and no motive for the death. And the same picture found near Angela’s body is found near his.
Devlin is convinced that the ring is important and with the help of a jeweler, Devlin learns that the initials AC don’t refer to the woman receiving the ring but to the man who ordered it. When the police learn that the woman in the picture was a prostitute who disappeared many years ago, the case begins to move quickly and the situation becomes more desperate.
BORDERLANDS is a story of old hates, of revenge, lives set adrift, and of lives too short and sadly-ended. McGilloway writes of the geographic no-man’s land where nothing flourishes or grows because it claims no one and no one can claim it as home or as refuge. It is the stuff of tragedy when a soul becomes a borderland of its own.
BORDERLANDS is the first book in the Benedict Devlin series.