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by Erin Hart
Random House Audio, May 2003
Abridged audio pages
ISBN: 0739302531

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Brothers Finton and Brendan McGann are cutting turf in the peat bog. Just as their sister brings their lunch to them, they uncover the perfectly preserved head of a beautiful red-haired woman.

The news about the bog body found in southeast County Galway is phoned in to Cormac Maguire, faculty member in the archeology department at University College, Dublin. Malachy Drummond, the chief state pathologist had visited the site and had declared that it was not a recent death. Dr. Nora Gavin, an American specialist in bog bodies, lecturer in anatomy at Trinity College Medical School was also informed of the find.

Cormac drives out to the site, 2 1/2 hours from Dublin, and finds Detective Garrett Devaney and Nora Gavin already there. With permission from the Garda, Maguire and Gavin try and find the rest of the body. What they do find after careful probing by hand in the gelatinous mass of wet peat, is a head with no body.

A stranger comes to the excavation, looks at the head, and then seems to collapse. Hugh Osborne, the local landowner has come to see if the head belongs to his Indian wife, Mina who had disappeared two years earlier, with their infant son. Hugh quickly recovers and invites the archeologists to stay at Bracklyn House. They find Hugh's cousin, Lucy acting as housekeeper and her disturbed 17-year old son, already in residence.

Is there a connection between the head found in the bog and the disappearance of Mina? Did Hugh murder his wife and child? Is Hugh the father of Una's child? Will local legend help find out who the head belongs to?

John Keating does a wonderful job of narrating the book. He uses a variety of Irish and American accents to differentiate the characters. Unfortunately, Random House chose to offer this book in an abridged audio version (5 CDs, 6 hours). Even this version, is worth listening to. I only wish it had been unabridged. This is a polished first novel, and worth seeking out.

Reviewed by Barbara Franchi, June 2003

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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