Monday, September 1, 2008

A Secret and Unlawful Killing-Cora Harrison

A Secret and Unlawful Killing
Cora Harrison
St. Martin’s, Sep 2008, $24.95
ISBN: 031237268X

In 1509 everyone in the Burren region of Ireland looks forward to the Michelmas Fair until Steward Ragnall MacNamara raises the annual tribute. Even before his avaricious spin, the pompous nasty Stewart was an unpopular individual with many wanting him dead. Someone however decides to do the deed beating MacNamara to death in a churchyard.

The only LADY JUDGE in Ireland Brehon Mara leads the investigation into the homicide and the murder of another unlikable chap, Ragnall’s enemy Aengus the miller. However as she expected seemingly everyone residing in the Burren had a motive to kill the odious Steward and disliked the Miller. The case seems to be going nowhere, but the Brehon continues her inquiries knowing the people need resolution.

The key to this excellent sixteenth century legal investigative thriller is the insight into Irish law during that era. The cast is strong with key players developed enough to enhance the exciting plot. Especially fully developed is the heroine whose intelligence and courage enables her to break through the gender barrier; in fact men somewhat fear her. However, the tidbits cleverly interwoven into the Brehon’s inquiries so that they may seem odd today make for a fine refreshing historical tale.

Harriet Klausner