Mystery Books for Sale

[ Home ]
[ About | Reviews | Search | Submit ]


by Cora Harrison
St Martin's Minotaur, September 2007
320 pages
ISBN: 0312368364

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Mara is Brehon of the Burren, appointed to this lofty post by the King himself, following the death of her father some 18 years before. And, like her father, she not only carries out the duties of Brehon, a judge and lawgiver in this western Irish land, she also runs a law school and raises up young folk to be lawyers and possibly Brehons themselves.

It is a good life, with serious responsibilities and commensurate pleasures; she enjoys the respect of her community, the support of friends, the freshness of youth about her, and her own independence.

On the eve of Beltane, April 30 1509, Mara is to sit in judgement on various pending cases and whatever else may come up on the day. In preparation, she travels about the community, gathering information and interviewing appellants, accompanied by her assistant, Colman.

Colman is a problem for Mara; a recent graduate from her training, he persuaded her to let him stay on for a year to teach and broaden his experience, but he is not a likeable fellow. Mara finds him arrogant and sly; her own consciousness of having failed her responsibility to instill a more fair-minded outlook in her student has made her keep trying with him, but she is beginning to look forward to the end of this final year.

And then, following the traditional Celtic festival of Beltane, Colman turns up dead, stabbed in the neck, and it is up to Mara to trace the killer before fear and suspicion fouls her small community beyond repair.

I enjoyed reading this book. Many readers of historical mystery will be immediately reminded of another female working within the Brehon laws, Peter Tremayne's Sister Fidelma. And there are certainly some similarities; although there are nine centuries between the two women, it is a very traditional society and not a great deal has changed. On the other hand, the writing style is quite different and, truth be told, Mara is a much more congenial person than Fidelma.

I liked watching Mara settling disputes and solving problems aside from the main mystery, and I liked her social environment. The story would not suit a person looking for a thriller, it falls well into the realm of cozy, but many characters are well drawn and the historical and cultural information is, for the most part, nicely integrated into the story, not slathered on as some authors unfortunately do.

Reviewed by Diana Sandberg, September 2007

[ Top ]



Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

[ About | Reviews | Search | Submit ]
[ Home ]