DERRY author Brian McGilloway is on a roll. His fifth book - which is released this week - is already garnering him the best reviews of his career. Before it has even hit the shelves the TV rights have been sold to a major production company. And best of all, his wife Tania likes this book more than any of the others.
The book, ‘Little Girl Lost’, takes Brian away from his comfort zone of writing about Inspector Benedict Devlin and throws him headlong into the workings of the female mind. But this is no sudden conversion to the world of chick lit writing - this is crime writing at its best.
“This is the first book featuring Detective Sergeant Lucy Black - a female, Catholic PSNI officer who has been moved from CID to the Public Protection Unit where essentially she looks after matters involving vulnerable people,” Brian explained.
The book opens in Prehen Woods - close to where Brian himself grew up - when a child is found wandering on her own. Her hands are covered in blood, but it is not her own and she has seemingly lost the ability to speak. It is up to DS Black to try and get to the bottom of the mystery - while also investigating the kidnapping of a high profile businessman’s daughter.
The Derry teacher admits it was a challenge to get inside the mind of his female protagonist and it was a big change from the familiar territory of writing about Inspector Devlin. “I think my default voice is Devlin’s,” he said, “so this was definitely something new.
“At times I did show it to my wife, Tania, so that she could tell me if it rang true from a female perspective.
“But apart from a few minor details, it seems I had it spot on,” Brian laughed.
Multi-layered, the book is also “very much about the relationships between fathers and daughters”, Brian said. Alongside her work DS Black is also caring her for her increasingly unstable father, himself a retired police officer - who has developed Alzheimer’s. She also has to avoid conflict with her frosty mother - who also happens to be the Assistant Chief Constable.
The release of the book this week - followed by a launch in Derry’s Central Library on Thursday, May 12 - marks a bit of a double edged sword for the father of four.
While he is delighted at how well his five novels have been received he admits that he is not one to court publicity.
However, as his star continues to rise he may have little choice in the matter. The television rights to ‘Little Girl Lost’ have been sold to a major TV production company. Last year he was shortlisted for the prestigious Theakstons ‘Crime Novel of the Year’ award. Reviewers have described his books as ‘fast becoming an annual must-read’ and the writer himself as ‘one of the most exciting crime writers around’.
He has already put pen to paper to begin his next novel - a return to Inspector Devlin - and is looking to the future.
“It was a bit strange to get back into the head of Devlin again after writing about Lucy, but after a while I found myself back in the groove.
“There’s something comforting about writing about Devlin - and the cast of characters which go with him.”
‘Little Girl Lost’ is released this weekend by Macmillan and is available in all good bookstores.