The Scholar

Dervla McTiernan

The Scholar
HarperCollins Publishers (Australia) Pty Ltd
20 January 2020

The Scholar

Dervla McTiernan

Being brilliant has never been this dangerous…

When Dr Emma Sweeney stumbles across the victim of a hit and run outside Galway University late one evening, she calls her partner, Detective Cormac Reilly, bringing him first to the scene of a murder that would otherwise never have been assigned to him. A security card in the dead woman’s pocket identifies her as Carline Darcy, a gifted student and heir apparent to Irish pharmaceutical giant Darcy Therapeutics. The multi-billion-dollar company, founded by her grandfather, has a finger in every pie, from sponsoring university research facilities to funding political parties to philanthropy - it has funded Emma’s own ground-breaking research. The enquiry into Carline’s death promises to be high profile and high pressure.

As Cormac investigates, evidence mounts that the death is linked to a Darcy laboratory and, increasingly, to Emma herself. Cormac is sure she couldn’t be involved, but as his running of the case comes under scrutiny from the department and his colleagues, he is forced to question his own objectivity. Could his loyalty to Emma have led him to overlook evidence? Has it made him a liability?     


Regular Readings Monthly readers will no doubt remember how obsessed we were by Irish born, Perth-based Dervla McTiernan’s debut crime novel. After turning the final page of The Rúin in early 2018, surviving the wait until we could read her second book seemed impossible, and yet she has kindly given it to us within a year. And not a moment too soon!

The Scholar sees Detective Inspector Cormac Reilly embroiled in another gripping tale of murder and deceit. When Cormac’s brilliant partner Dr Emma Sweeney finds a body late one night at Galway University, the crime is too close for comfort. Emma is quickly caught up in an investigation that will have enormous ramifications for her career and personal life. For Cormac, the phone call summoning him to the scene of the apparent hit-and-run is only the first of many moments in this new case when his personal and professional lives will be in conflict.

The victim appears to be gifted young scientist Carline Darcy, who is also heir to Emma’s employer, Galway University-based Irish pharmaceutical giant Darcy Therapeutics. McTiernan effortlessly plunges Cormac into the viciously competitive world of academia and big pharma, among big brains and even bigger egos. With a racing plot (another one!) and visceral details, McTiernan draws the reader into this fraught environment in which Emma has been pursuing her career with skill and integrity for years. Or has she? As Cormac meets – and investigates – more of her colleagues, the path ahead becomes less clear, the stakes are raised, and, as the case progresses, doubt is even cast upon the past.

This is another thrilling tale that delivers on all the promise of McTiernan’s debut – not to be missed.

Elke Power is the editor of Readings Monthly.

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