The second volume in Caldwell’s projected trilogy (The Pig Did It, 2008)—a hybrid of farce and Irish ghost story.
Hack novelist Kitty McCloud (her latest “correction” of a classic is called The Bloody Mill on the Bloody Floss) and new husband Kieran Sweeney have bought a drafty, dilapidated castle in County Kerry. There they cohabit with cows, the mischievous pig of the title and a peculiar couple of handsome teens in homespun whom they take to be squatters. It soon becomes apparent that the squatters are the raw-necked, restless ghosts of Brid and Taddy, attractive youths who centuries earlier were hanged by the English Lord Shaftoe when he took possession of Castle Kissane. Shaftoe caught wind of a plot to blow up his castle with a cache of gunpowder hidden on the premises and made an example of Brid and Taddy. The plot thickens when a descendant of Shaftoe surfaces and with the courts’ backing stakes a claim as rightful owner of Castle Kissane, at which point the pig unearths a strongbox that divulges the whereabouts of the gunpowder. Plot contrivances abound, among them that Kitty half-falls for the ghost of Taddy; Kieran is smitten by Brid; and both spouses conceive a deep jealousy. Caldwell’s style is histrionic and hammy; he counts on winning the reader’s indulgence by way of snappy dialogue and Irish craic.
Playful, at times even charming, but not light-footed enough to make up for its heavy-handedness.