Two bodies killed hundreds of years apart bring pathologist Nora Gavin (False Mermaid, 2010, etc.) and archaeologist Cormac Maguire to Killowen, home to an ancient order of scribes.
Nearly 1,200 years ago, young Eóghan was brought to the monastery at Killowen by his mother, who was at wits’ end with his strange vocalizations and uncontrollable movements. There, his fascination with the monks’ Scriptorum grew until the brothers allowed the youth to copy their sacred texts. Was it one of those illuminated manuscripts that led to the death of philosopher Benedict Kavanagh, who skewered rivals on his weekly television show and who recently told his estranged wife, Mairéad Broome, of a find that would set the scholarly world on its ear? The discovery of Kavanagh’s body, along with the body of a man who perished centuries earlier, in the trunk of a car submerged in Killowen Bog brings Nora and Cormac to this remote corner of Killarney, along with Cormac’s father, Joseph, still recovering from a stroke, and his caregiver, Eliana. The four stay at a local artists’ retreat, where Claire Finnerty and her band of painters, potters and calligraphers include the visitors in their communal meals but keep them at arm’s length from their personal lives. Local police detective Stella Cusack is more welcoming. But pressure to close the widely publicized case quickly and the demands of life with her teenage daughter Lia threaten Stella’s professional and personal well-being.
Hart’s foray into soggy Killowen has a rock-solid foundation of musical language and deft plotting.