McGARR AND THE LEGACY OF A WOMAN SCORNED by Bartholomew Gill

McGARR AND THE LEGACY OF A WOMAN SCORNED

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The ""woman scorned"" is aristocratic, 60-ish horse-breeder Fionnuala Walton, who was engaged to marry handsome neighbor Dan Daugherty back in 1947--that is, until Dan was forced to marry pregnant, lusty teenager Mna, a sometime bedmate. And her ""legacy"" is the top-drawer, Irish horse farm known as Greenore Eugenics, built up over 30 years with help from neighbor Dan--who, despite wedlock, remained Fionnuala's lover/employee up until his recent demise. So, when Fionnuala is found at the foot of her attic stairs, dead from a broken neck, Dublin's Chief Inspector Peter McGarr (somber, squat, bald) interrupts his country vacation to investigate--assisted, semi-incognito, by his attractive young wife, Noreen. McGarr, in his sneaky, occasionally brutal fashion, focuses primarily on the suspects in the Walton household: Fionnuala's odd elder sisters, spinsters (one severe, one chic) who may have resented their sibling's imperious ways; and fierce niece Deirdre, daughter of a long-deceased fourth sister--the apparent heir to Greenore Eugenics. Meanwhile, posing as a tourist/bird-watcher, Noreen rents a room at the Daugherty farm next door, sizing up the murder-motives thereabouts: Dan's greedy, bustling widow Mna was involved in a fight over farmland with Fionnuala; elder son Tom (a dashing sort who nearly seduces Noreen) is hatching a secret, perhaps shady scheme to sire a line of ""super horses"" at Greenore; younger son Dan Jr., a surly stutterer, is engaged to marry heiress Deirdre. And finally, after Mna is also murdered, McGarr closes in on the unsurprising killer--while Noreen is briefly, painlessly, held hostage on a yacht by one of Tom's co-conspirators (a Greek tycoon) in that horse-breeding enterprise. The crucial family-secret here is one that most readers will guess almost from the very start. Gill's stylish narration is somewhat less textured than usual, with only a few shadings of dark humor and deep atmosphere. But, if this is McGarr's least inventive case, it's also his tidiest by far; so readers who've found previous McGarrs rather opaque and convoluted may prefer this more conventional outing--which does feature the offbeat characterization and earthy, edgy dialogue that are the trademarks of Gill's distinctive series.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1986
Publisher: Viking