Top critical review
First Book In New Series
Reviewed in the United States on June 6, 2021
** 3.5 Stars **
I am an avid reader of this author’s Irish Village Mystery series and was very excited to see she has started this new series – also based in Ireland. I believe the author splits her year between living in Ireland and living in the United States.
Tara Meehan has come to Galway, Ireland to spread her mother’s ashes and to carry a message from her mother to Johnny Meehan, her mother’s estranged brother. Tara doesn’t even know if her uncle Johnny is alive. She’s never met him, never corresponded with him – no contact, ever. She has no idea what caused the rift between her mother and her uncle, so she has no idea what kind of reception she’ll get from him. Almost as soon as she arrived, the box containing her mother’s ashes was ripped from her hand by a street juggler and ended up opened and covering a stranger who had tried to retrieve it for her – then, directly on the heels of that, she discovered a dead body in the doorway of her uncle’s cottage. What a way to begin her stay in Galway!
Believing the body belonged to her uncle Johnny, she called the Garda (Irish police) and told them she’d found the body of Johnny Meehan. She also told others that she’d found Johnny’s body and nobody seemed surprised. Evidently, her uncle wasn’t an esteemed member of the community. When the body is officially identified, it isn’t Johnny Meehan but his best customer, Emmett Walsh, and her uncle Johnny is the suspect in the murder. With Uncle Johnny missing and the police not looking for other suspects, Tara believes it is her family duty to show that her uncle isn’t guilty – or – if he is, to help find him and turn him in.
The mystery is a good one with lots of potential suspects and victims. I was pretty sure who the culprit was almost as soon as they graced the page, but I certainly had no clue why that would be the case. There are many red herrings, many possible scenarios for the murder to have happened, and some really strange happenings going on in Johnny’s life. Tara finds yet another body, and this one had her uncle’s business card lying right there in the blood. Goodness wasn’t that convenient. The Garda doubles down on Johnny as the prime suspect and tells Tara to leave Ireland immediately – for her own safety of course. Can Tara and her uncle’s employee, Danny O’Donnell, solve the mystery before Detective Sergeant Gable finds and arrests her uncle? Danny is not a willing participant in the investigation, but he does what he can to help Tara.
This book just didn’t reach right out and pull me into the story. I didn’t care for any of the characters other than perhaps Danny. I also didn’t care for the anti-American sentiments which seemed to be espoused by the residents of Galway. I’m sure there are probably those with the anti-American sentiments in the real Galway, but I’d wager it isn’t as prevalent as the author intimated it was. With so many suspects, red-herrings, and things going on I would have thought the book would be fast-paced and suspenseful, but I actually found parts of it a bit dull.
While I wasn’t in love with this first offering, I’ll definitely try the next book in the series to see where things go. The first book in a series often isn’t the best the series has to offer because it has to fill so many functions – such as introducing us to the characters, setting up the series's premise, etc., and providing a compelling story. If the second book is like this one, I’ll probably not follow the series, but I’m sure I’ll become a series fan if it picks up the pace.