In 1925 Cork, Ireland, a horrifying find in an old trunk leads an unlikely sleuth to further discoveries scarcely less shocking.
A smelly trunk arrives from the auction house of Mr. Hayes, a gift to the school from the Reverend Mother’s cousin Lucy. Instead of the expected old school books, it contains the dead body of Mr. Mulcahy, a wealthy tanner, packed with a bunch of decomposing skins. Mulcahy’s son Fred arrives on the scene just after the Reverend Mother opens the trunk; he was evidently expecting a different trunk, with a shipment of guns for the Irish Republican Army. Although he’s appalled to see his dead father, he’s so far from mourning the loss that he shoots the body through the heart before taking off. The Reverend Mother calls Inspector Patrick Cashman, a former pupil whom she and medical examiner Dr. Scher have helped before (A Shocking Assassination, 2016, etc.). Poor, clever Eileen, another former pupil, who works for a printer and is also involved with the Republicans, snatches Fred away from the police on her motorbike and barely escapes trouble herself when Fred tries to flee on a fishing trawler. The Reverend Mother meanwhile fills Patrick in on the Mulcahy family, a large group with a long-suffering wife and mother, who were just moving into a brand new house, selling the old one, and moving the tanning yard when Mulcahy was killed. The oldest daughter, Susan, wanted to become a doctor, but her father was determined to marry her instead to his business acquaintance Richard McCarthy, the executor of his will, who claims that they’ll need to sell the new house to support the family. Susan, who helped keep the books, is certain there’s plenty of money. With help from Eileen, she sets out to prove that McCarthy and a new lawyer are hiding it. There are so many suspects, from Mulcahy’s family members to his business enemies, that the sleuths can only pray that following the money will lead to the killer.
The competent and exacting detective’s contacts and knowledge of Cork again help her solve a difficult mystery in fine fashion.