04 March 2013

Bodies in a Bog

The Book of Killowen (Nora Gavin/Cormac Maguire #4) by Erin Hart (Scribner hardcover, 5 March 2013).

After a year-long sabbatical, Nora and Cormac receive a call from the National Museum of Ireland, asking them to be part of a team planning to recover a body found in a remote Tipperary bog.  They agree, and decide to bring along Cormac's father Joseph, who's been recovering from a stroke.

A construction worker digging for a drainage channel had uncovered a car, completely submerged in the bog.  In its trunk were two human bodies:  one that appeared to be ancient with another, much more recently deceased, underneath.

The newer body turns out to have been  Benedict Kavanagh, a controversial television host who had disappeared just a few months earlier.  This, of course, leads to a criminal investigation as well as the historical one.

The researchers board at a nearby artists' colony called Killowen, which is inhabited by an eccentric group of people, most of whom seem to have something to hide. The owner of the land being dug up, Vincent Claffey, also appears to be keeping something from the investigators, as does his daughter.

The two groups of investigators work together out of necessity, finding both stories twisted and difficult to unravel.

Erin Hart's prose is a pleasure to read, despite its dark subject matter.  She takes us back to the Ninth Century to show us the story of the older corpse and how he came to die.  Her characters -- both present-day and historical -- are believable, have realistically messy lives, and evoke genuine reactions from the reader.  Her descriptions  allow us to feel the warmth of the sun on the garden, and we can almost smell the peaty scent of the bog. 

Do read the earlier books in the series before this one, if you can.  By the time you get to this one, Nora and Cormac will feel like old friends.

Please drop by Crime Fiction Collective today for a guest post by Erin Hart.

FTC Full Disclosure:  I received an e-galley of the book through Edelweiss.

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