Review: Murder in an Irish Churchyard by Carlene O’Conner

Murder in an Irish Churchyard by Carlene O’Conner—Dedicated fans of light, small town murder mysteries with an Irish flavor may enjoy following O’Conner’s sassy heroine, Siobhán O’Sullivan as she negotiates the change from amateur sleuth to official police investigator.

Murder in an Irish Churchyard

by Carlene O’Conner

Publisher: Kensington Books

Publication Date: Feb. 27, 2018

Genre: Mystery & Detective / Cozy Mystery

ISBN-13: 978-1-61773-853-1

Available in print, electronic, and audiobook versions.

After joining the police force of her small Irish village, a local woman must investigate the murder of a stranger in this cozy mystery novel.
 
After solving two murders in the County Cork village of Kilbane, Siobhán O’Sullivan has accepted her calling and decided to join the Garda Síochána. The O’Sullivan clan couldn’t be prouder, but there’s no time to celebrate as she’s already on another case, summoned by the local priest who just found a dead man in the St. Mary’s graveyard—aboveground. 
 
He’s a stranger, but the priest has heard talk of an American tourist in town, searching for his Irish ancestor. As Siobhán begins to dig for a motive among the gnarled roots of the victim’s family tree, she will need to stay two steps ahead of the killer or end up with more than one foot in the grave.

Murder in an Irish Churchyard, set in Kilbane, County Cork, Ireland, is the third of seven novels (the first I’ve read) in Carlene O’Conner’s Irish Village Mystery series. Siobhán O’Sullivan has been running the family bistro while taking care of her five siblings since their parents died. Formerly, an amateur sleuth, in this installment, Siobhán has just graduated from Templemore Garda College and is anxiously anticipating her first day of work as a guard at the Kilbane Gardai Station. The Gardai or “The Guards” is the national police service of the Republic of Ireland.

At the beginning of the book, the village priest, Father Kearney, summons Siobhán O’Sullivan to St. Mary’s Churchyard in the middle of the night, where the body of a man lies in the snow. Someone fatally shot the victim, later identified as American Peter Mallon, the patriarch of the wealthy Mallon family. The Mallon family is in Ireland to explore Peter Mallon’s Irish roots for a documentary. Clues are scarce, but there are plenty of suspects with fingers pointed at everyone involved in filming the documentary. It dismays Siobhán to discover that she must report directly to her ex-boyfriend, Detective Sergeant Macdara Flannery, temporarily called up from Dublin to help investigate the murder, but pleased Flannery permits her to take part given her status as a rookie. The pair forge an uneasy alliance as they question suspects and uncover a tangled web of family betrayal and unresolved heartbreak.

Now Garda O’Sullivan, Siobhán meets up with her ex-boyfriend, Detective Sergeant Macdara Flannery, a good-natured detective sergeant detective, and becomes a member of his investigative team. Together, they work to connect the pieces of the intricate mystery behind Peter Mallon’s murder. It makes the case even more complicated because of Siobhán’s partnership with her former flame, who she has never quite gotten over.

O’Conner takes her time unraveling the strands of the mystery, keeping the reader on edge all the while. Through transportive details of Kilbane and County Cork and charming Irish culture, she fashions an immersive setting for the narrative, which moves nimbly through the murder investigation while providing glimpses of O’Sullivan’s past relationship with Flannery.

Featuring a memorable cast that includes the Mallon family, a cheeky documentary filmmaker, suspects galore, and Siobhán’s endearing siblings, Murder in an Irish Churchyard, makes for interesting reading. Siobhán is a first-class protagonist—a dogged crime investigator and appealing every woman with plenty of smarts and heart.

Dedicated fans of light, small town murder mysteries with an Irish flavor may enjoy following O’Conner’s sassy heroine, Siobhán O’Sullivan as she negotiates the change from amateur sleuth to official police investigator.

I purchased the copy of this book used for this review.

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