By Anthony J. Quinn
Publisher: Pegasus Books (June, 2017)
Kindle edition: $12.99
An Inspector Celcius Daly Mystery (Book #3)
Reviewed by Shirley Wetzel
The Troubles in Northern Ireland officially ended decades ago, but its repercussions still linger. Samuel Reid just wants to forget what happened; he wants to be left alone to raise his pigs, but that is not to be. When a band of Travellers set up camp on the edge of his fields, he is both angry and frightened. The same O’Sullivan clan had been there years ago when young Mary O’Sullivan and her infant disappeared, and they have not forgotten that Reid had something to do with it.
Spring is returning to County Armagh, and with it Inspector Celcius Daly begins to see through the fog he’s been under for months. He’s been hit with several hard blows: he is under internal review for his mishandling of the case of a dangerous IRA spy; he’s finally discovered the details of his mother’s murder and the betrayal of people he had trusted; he is now divorced, his only companion a black hen. His neighbor had often seen him restlessly stalking his land, staring into the horizon and muttering to the bushes. On the day the flowers bloomed again, he comes back to life.
Daly had been assigned to a menial job, working with the prosecution on court cases for detectives who couldn’t be there. He’s been messing that up too. He knows he’s ready to return to his former work as a detective, but his higher-up disagrees. When the young son of Rebecca Hewson, a solicitor he’s formed a bond with, is kidnapped, he is finally allowed to take the lead on the investigation. He senses something off about Rebecca’s husband, an English journalist. His wife says he frequently disappears for days or weeks at a time, with no explanation other than that he’s researching a book about the history of the Irish Travellers.
Daly is annoyed that he has been instructed to assist Special Branch with a related case, but as events unfold it becomes obvious the two cases are linked. The circumstances of the fate of Mary O’Sullivan and her child are of interest to several diverse factions, some with evil intent.This is the third in the highly acclaimed Inspector Celcius Daly mystery series. Quinn captures the spirit of Northern Ireland in vivid and lyrical prose, and brings clarity to the dark time of the Troubles and its aftermath. The look into the complex history and lifestyle of the Irish Travellers is fascinating and enlightening. Quinn, a journalist in County Tyrone, has written many award-winning short stories. DISAPPEARED was his first novel, followed by BORDER ANGELS. Inspector Daly is a particularly sympathetic, engrossing protagonist, flawed and damaged, but with spirit and honor. This is at the top of my list of excellent police procedurals. The books will appeal to fans of Stuart Neville, and to all readers who enjoy a finely-written mystery. Highly recommended.
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