Fifteen-year-old Angela Cashell's nearly nude body lay in the brambles by a secluded lane in an area known as “the borderlands” where an invisible line separates the Irish Republic in the south from Northern Ireland. An autopsy reveals she died from a seizure after taking Ecstasy laced with poison. Inspector Benedict Devlin, stationed in Lifford on the southern side of the border where Angela lived, finds himself leading an increasingly complex investigation into the teenager's death. Angela's family, having a long tradition of poverty and distrust of the police, close ranks against the detectives. Whitey McKelvey, the prime suspect, is one of a band of “travelers” encamped outside a nearby town, and they quickly become targets of vigilante justice delivered by Angela's father and uncles. When a second murder occurs—this time a young man home on holiday from college—the two cases at first appear unrelated but certain clues later suggest otherwise. And to complicate Devlin's life even more, an old flame from his youth who married into a wealthy and politically powerful family begins making advances which does not set well with Debbie, Devlin's wife. Then there's the neighbor who threatens to shoot the family's dog for killing his sheep. And what should the Inspector do when the investigation suggests that his own Superintendent might somehow be implicated in at least one of the deaths he's charged with solving?
Author Brian McGilloway brings his setting and story alive with vivid descriptions of the natural landscape that surrounds the unfolding events of his narrative. His characters, with all their fallibilities, practically walk off the pages and sustain the plot through all its twists and turns. As the first shot fired in the Inspector Devlin series, Borderlands is a gritty tale where police, petty criminals, and aspiring politicians find the past is always present and will come back to haunt them as surely as that nebulous devide between the two Irelands.