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A TURN FOR THE BAD: A County Cork Mystery

By Sheila Connolly

Berkley Prime Crime

February 2, 2016


Less than a year ago, Maura Donovan found herself in a tiny town in West Cork, jetlagged, pretty much broke, and still mourning her grandmother’s recent death. She wasn’t very sure why she was there at all, except her grandmother had asked her to go.

The next few months made an incredible difference in Maura’s life. Now she owns a home (thanks to a childless relative of her grandmother’s, who left it to her) and a pub (ditto), which she’s still learning to run. It’s not easy to make the jump from sometime employee back in Boston to owner-manager of a pub in Ireland, with employees of her own, and certainly not in a country that’s new to her. But Maura is a survivor, and she’s handling it. Maybe her gran had the right idea, sending her there.

But she hadn’t counted on the crimes. Oh, she knew that pubs, wherever they were, were places where people got together to talk, to share information. Ireland proved no different, and the pub—Sullivan’s—holds an important place in the small village of Leap. No surprise that the local people—mostly the men—stop by regularly for a pint on their way home, or to get away from the missus and the kids. She kind of expected a number of passing tourists to drop in, since the pub is on the main road along Ireland’s south coast. But she didn’t expect to end up solving more than one murder.

Murder is a rare thing in Ireland, particularly in the rural parts, away from cities. West Cork is one of those rural areas, and there are probably more cows than people there (I’ve read there are more than four thousand dairy herds in the county). That makes it a challenge for me to write about solving murders. On the other hand, since it’s a small country, and people have long memories, it’s an ideal setting for solving a crime, because people will know who might have done it, and they’ll also notice suspicious strangers. And then they’ll all show up at the pub to talk about it.

In A Turn for the Bad I take advantage of that. While the death that occurs involves major crime, it’s the local people who step up and rescue one of their own, who’s gotten involved only because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time.