by Sharon Tucker
It can be most comforting to sit back in your easy chair with a hot beverage and buttered scones as late winter changes to early spring, picking up a St Patrick’s Day mystery to welcome the season. Sister Carol Anne O’Marie’s Murder at the Monk’s Table, Leslie Meier’s St. Patrick’s Day Murder and Isis Crawford’s A Catered St. Patrick’s Day will all nicely fit the bill for just that.
Murder at the Monk’s Table finds Sister Mary Helen just landed in County Galway, Ireland on her way to lend support to her good friend Sr. Eileen who has just buried a family member after nursing her through a long illness. In gratitude, Sr. Eileen’s family invited Sr. Mary Helen to share a holiday before they return to their mother house in San Francisco. Its Oyster Festival time there in Ballyclarin and the village is teeming with festival wares, award-winning goods and a newly elected Oyster Queen to preside over the ceremonies.
At the center of the festivities in the Monk’s Table Pub Sister Mary Helen overhears a threat of murder aimed at the local reporter who’s a bit of an unsavory character to begin with, not to mention that he has the goods on most of the village residents. When this same Willie Ward gets himself murdered at the Monk’s Table, Sisters Mary Helen and Eileen feel duty bound to help the local constabulary solve the murder case despite being warned of by absolutely everybody.
It’s no surprise that Longley, New York has its share of unsavory characters as well but when an investment broker is discovered drowned in a keg of green beer behind a bar on the eve of St. Patrick’s Day that really kicks “unsavoriness” up a notch. Luckily for the cast of characters in Isis Crawford’s A Catered St. Patrick’s Day, Bernie and Libby Simmons not only run a deliciously successful catering business, A Little Taste of Heaven, they also collaborate with their father Sean, a retired chief of police, in conducting private investigations.
As their investigation begins the only real problem is that the victim, Mike Sweeney, had so many enemies that they’re spoiled for choice ? he’d cheated practically everyone he knew. The money’s on Duncan Nottingham as the perpetrator, but he’s who Sean, Bernie and Libby have been hired to exonerate and the evidence just keeps on piling up against him.
The prologue of St. Patrick’s Day Murder by Leslie Meier introduces our victim, Old Dan Malone, as he closes up his bar on the night before St. Patrick’s Day in Tinker’s Cove, Maine. Dan wasn’t well known except by the town’s less savory citizens who patronized his dive and with whom he had a less than congenial relationship.
When Lucy Stone, a reporter for the town’s newspaper, finds his body in the harbor during an atypical end of January thaw, she has more than the usual small town’s news to write up. But how convenient is it that Dan’s actor brother from Dublin shows up just in time to claim the bar as his inheritance? How annoying is it that he insists his wife is given the lead in the town’s production of Finnian’s Rainbow and that his daughter is an ardent believer in mischievous fairies? The town of Tinker’s Cove has disturbing and discordant elements on too many fronts and Lucy Stone has her work cut out for her in making sense of it all before someone else dies.
Readers love cozies because the characters in them tend to be familiar incarnations of ourselves. We love seeing the characters succeed against difficult odds and we feel comfortable thinking that we would figure out who did what to whom too. We can count on a minimum of carnage while justice is being done, and at this time of year, if your cozy has a flavor of old Ireland, just make a strong pot of tea (and tipple it with Jameson’s if you like), put your feet up and settle in for a charming read.
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