Move over, Agatha Christie: a pub owner in County Cork fancies herself a young Miss Marple.
Irish-American Maura Donovan was raised in Boston by her grandmother, whose dying wish was that Maura visit Ireland. It turns out that her grandmother arranged for Maura to inherit a pub in the little West Cork town of Leap. Knowing nothing about pubs, Maura relies on the help of employees Mick, Jimmy, and Rose, who's Jimmy's daughter. When an unusually large snowstorm throws the whole area into emergency mode, Maura’s pub fills with orphans of the storm, including a middle-aged woman with an English accent. Mick is quite sure that she’s Diane Caldwell, who was questioned but never arrested in the murder of her neighbor Sharon Morgan by multiple stab wounds. Both of them lived in England but owned holiday houses in Cork. Lazy Jimmy grumbles, Mick is his usual stalwart self, and Rose does an amazing job whipping the small amount of food they have into a meal, somehow transforming the old, unused pub kitchen into one that works. After 20-plus years, Diane is willing to tell her story to the skeptical folks sheltering in the pub—including Bart Hayes, who was a young garda at the time of the murder—and answer questions from the group, who find themselves acting as an unofficial jury. The affair Diane’s husband was having with Sharon provided her with a motive, but the police never found any forensic evidence linking her to the bloody murder. As the long night goes on, more people are persuaded that she may be innocent. But can rehashing the past clear Diane and find a killer?
Connolly’s (A Turn for the Bad, 2016, etc.) heroine clearly has a gift for solving mysteries, and the interesting characters she presents warts and all make for a fine read in the classic style.