by Sandra Murphy
Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of Cruel Winter. We also have a link to order it from Amazon, and from an indie bookstore where a portion goes to help support KRL.
Maura left Boston after her grandmother’s death, just to visit Ireland. Gran wanted her to see the old country and let distant relatives know she’d died. What was to be a visit, has turned into a new life. Moira inherited a pub, three employees, a daily storytelling fixture of a customer, and a house too. It seems she’s here to stay, at least for now.
It’s her first winter in Ireland. Mick had to arrange for the heat in her house and show her how to use it. Peat in a fireplace is also a mystery, smoky, but warm, if you can stay close enough to the fire. When the telly reports a snow storm is on the way, and it will be a big one, she’s at a loss as to what to do. With the help of neighbors and friends, the pub is fixed up to be a haven for the stranded.
That would include Gillian, who is pregnant, Old Billy the storyteller, groomsmen from a wedding, a former policeman, musicians, and a few regulars as well as the employees. They’re able to scrounge a bit of food, just the basics, eggs and toast for breakfast, the makings of soup. Boredom might be a problem as these are all practiced drinkers.
Diane is the anomaly. She’s quiet, off in a corner, even though it’s colder there. Finally, one of the men recognizes her. Years ago, she was the main suspect in a neighbor’s murder. The two women were acquainted, but not friends, each staying alone that night with husbands out of the country. To complicate matters, Diane’s husband had an affair with the victim, giving Diane a motive, at least in the minds of the police. No strangers were about, everyone had alibis, but there was never enough evidence to arrest Diane.
Diane is in Ireland to sell the house. Her friends in England don’t know about the murder, and it’s finally time to move on. As a way to pass the time, she tells her side of the story. As she’s questioned and responds, Maura keeps track of who did what and when. Is it possible they could solve a cold case? At least Diane will feel like she’s been able to set the record straight from her point of view.
Maura may still feel lost as to the ways of the Irish, but she’s learning, and as she does, so does the reader. Ireland has snow, but not the likes of this storm which is so well described as to be a character and as important as the rest of the clues. Jimmy, the laziest employee at the pub, has a new lady friend. She’s an ambitious woman, the opposite of Jimmy, and should make for interesting changes in his life in the future. Rose, his daughter and a great employee, has such a good time cooking for the snow-trapped customers, she’s apt to go to culinary school once Jimmy is settled. Mick remains mysterious as ever, but readers will have hope for him and Maura.
This is book number five in the County Cork series. Connolly also writes the Museum mysteries (seven), the Orchard book (ten), the Relatively Dead series (five), and the Glassblowing mysteries as Sarah Atwell (three).
Connolly is a truly prolific writer, who has a tale to tell and tells it well. Be ready to pack your bags for Ireland—although maybe not in the winter.
To enter to win a copy of Cruel Winter, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “cruel,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen March 18, 2017. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address, and if via comment please include your email address.
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