Crime fiction fans who are put off investigating certain authors because they've already written a half-dozen books or more featuring a hero have the opportunity to be in from the get-go with McGuire's debut novel.

Set in the author's native Belfast in 2005, Dark Dawn introduces us to John O'Neill, an Acting Detective Sergeant at Musgrave Street Station whose chances of hanging on to the rank and staying out of uniform hinge entirely on whether he can solve his first case as a Principal Investigator: a murdered teenager found on the site of a new luxury apartment complex. But with no body ID, witnesses or evidence, it looks like O'Neill will be back on the beat very soon.

Staring point blank down the double barrel of professional and personal failure in these pages, O'Neill is a character with tonnes of potential. He's a man who's driven by his heart more than his head, is on the top brass' hitlist, doubts his own abilities and comes off second best in physical encounters.

McGuire does an excellent job with the ghosts, hustles, bravado and Tigeresque excesses of his claustrophobic hometown, with the supporting characters here - seen-it-all cops and priests, humanised teenage pushers, dirty developers and hard men with a new business model – boding well for the universe the author is creating. "The only kind of green that people round here care about is in that envelope I just tossed you," says a gangster to a dinosaur, and the pacing proves to be as page-turning as the dialogue.

It is always raining, and hopefully there'll be a lot more (dark) days like this.

Harry Guerin