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DEATH OF AN IRISH LOVER

by Bartholomew Gill

Avon Books
May 2000 (hardcover); May 2001 (paperback)

Reviewed by Jennifer Ashley

In this installment of the Peter McGarr series, Peter is called by a childhood acquaintance, Tim Tallon, the schoolyard bully who enjoyed beating up the young McGarr. But now Tim has a problem: two dead bodies in a bedroom of his inn. He begs McGarr to investigate (for old times' sake), but not to alert the local police or the press.

McGarr drives down to an idyllic fishing village on the Shannon, where Tallon runs a prosperous inn. There he discovers that the murdered man had been an officer in charge of keeping poachers away from River Shannon eels (the "eel police.") The man has been found in bed with his young colleague--both of them naked and quite dead.

Ignoring Tallon's plea for secrecy, McGarr summons his team from Dublin, including his wife and daughter, and begins his investigation. The male victim seems to have been a womanizer, dangling nearly every woman in the village from his string. In addition, McGarr discovers that several former IRA members have a hideout nearby and that another former IRA man works in the bar of the inn.

Meanwhile, two members of his team must reconcile with the end of their long affair, with complicated circumstances. And Noreen, McGarr's wife, does some investigation of her own, and turns up important evidence.

This was a simple murder mystery with layers of complexity. Gill paints a clear portrait of a picture-postcard Irish village, complete with foreign tourists, but with real people living real lives there.

I enjoy the character of Noreen, who unashamedly takes full part in the investigation. She is no Madame Maigret staying home to perfect her cassoulet. The situation might not be realistic, but I prefer it to the wife relegated to the background.

All in all, a good read.

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