Murder in an orchard cemetery

Cora Harrison

Book - 2021

The peaceful atmosphere of the Reverend Mother's annual retreat is shattered by sudden, violent death in this gripping historical mystery. 1920s. Cork, Ireland. The Reverend Mother regrets the bishop's decision to invite the five candidates for the position of Alderman of the City Council to join them for their annual retreat. Constantly accosted by ambitious, would-be politicians hoping to secure the bishop's backing, she's finding the week-long sojourn at the convent of the... Sisters of Charity anything but peaceful. What she doesn't expect to encounter however is sudden, violent death. When a body is discovered in the convent's apple orchard cemetery, blown to pieces by a makeshift bomb, it is assumed the IRA are responsible. But does the killer lie closer to home? Was one of the candidates so desperate to win the election they turned to murder? Does someone have a hidden agenda? Once again, the Reverend Mother must call on her renowned investigative skills to unearth the shocking truth.

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Harrison, Cora. Reverend Mother mysteries.
Historical fiction
Detective and mystery fiction
Edinburgh : Severn House 2021.
First world edition
Physical Description
230 pages ; 23 cm
Main Author
Cora Harrison (author)
Review by Booklist Review

Harrison offers another winning entry in her excellent Reverend Mother series. Set in Cork, Ireland, in the 1920s, it touches on Ireland's difficult history, the terrible poverty in Cork, and the influence of the church. But this is first and foremost a murder mystery, filled with red herrings, plenty of suspects, and a twisty, keep-'em-guessing plot. The reverend mother looks forward to the annual retreat hosted by the bishop as a time of peace and contemplation, but this year, the bishop has invited the six nominees for city alderman to attend, and one is killed by a bomb in the convent's orchard cemetery. The case is as frustrating as it is puzzling until Mother Aquinas focuses her understanding of human nature and her considerable brainpower on solving the crime. What she uncovers is a tragic tale of revenge, resentment, power, and greed. A skillfully written, deeply affecting story featuring intriguing historical details, gentle humor, poignancy, richly drawn characters, a multifaceted plot, and the wise, practical, compassionate Reverend Mother Aquinas.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission. Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

In Harrison's excellent eighth novel set in 1920s Cork, Ireland (after 2020's Death of a Prominent Citizen), the Reverend Mother Aquinas normally looks forward to the annual weeklong spiritual retreat for the religious superiors of all the Cork schools as a welcome break from her busy routine because of the restriction of absolute silence. But this year, with a mayoral election looming, the bishop has decided to invite all five candidates to attend, including a shoe manufacturer and a female solicitor with IRA links, and to allow people to talk about the many vital issues facing the still young Irish republic. At the retreat, the Reverend Mother is downcast by indications that the vote appears susceptible to being "stage-managed by violence on one side and corruption upon the other." The gathering turns deadly after a bomb set in a cemetery located on the retreat site detonates, killing one of the mayoral hopefuls. Though the police suspect the IRA, the Reverend Mother, a plausible and accomplished sleuth, digs deeper. The pacing, clueing, and characterizations are all top-notch. Father Brown fans will be in heaven. Agent: Peter Buckman, Ampersand Agency (U.K.). (Sept.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved Review by Kirkus Book Review

Reverend Mother Aquinas shows once again that she's never at a loss when it comes to closing cases of murder in 1920s Cork. The Reverend Mother usually enjoys the bishop's yearly retreat for religious superiors featuring silence, prayer, and meditation. This year, though, he's invited the five candidates for alderman, all of whom are vying for his support. Finding the whole process annoying, the Reverend Mother spends much of her time in the delightful orchard cemetery of the Sisters of Charity. As she gossips in French with Mother Isabelle, she notices a freshly dug grave near her seat. When wealthy James Musgrave, one of the mayoral candidates, whose daughter is a novice at the convent, is blown to pieces while sitting in the very same seat, her former pupil Inspector Patrick Cashman relies on her connections to help solve what at first appears to be an Irish Republican Army killing. Eileen, the Reverend Mother's star pupil, who's now a reporter attending law school, gets a tip that at least one of the other candidates may not be what he seems, and another is a known supporter of the IRA. Respected by both Cork's wealthy families and the poor of the city, the Reverend Mother has a special conduit to information that could solve a murder with many possible motives. A historically interesting mystery with a wise, empathetic sleuth and a shocking denouement. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.