Another day, another cozy set in Ireland. I am a sucker for all things Ireland/Scotland, and when that obsession intersects with my love of all cozies, you get a no brainer. Carlene O’Connor writes another cozy series set in Ireland called Irish Village Mystery, but the Home to Ireland series is a little newer (Murder in Connemara is only book 2). I am so pleased and honored that Netgalley and Kensington gave me the opportunity to review this ARC! So without further ado…
From the Publisher:
In Galway County, a chance at redemption is denied by an unforgiving killer…
Former New Yorker and interior designer Tara Meehan is eagerly anticipating the grand opening of her architectural salvage shop Renewals in her newly adopted home of Galway. She’s in the midst of preparations when heiress Veronica O’Farrell bursts in to announce she’s ready for some renewal of her own. To celebrate one year of sobriety, she’s invited seven people she wronged in her drinking days to historic Ballynahinch Castle Hotel in neighboring Connemara to make amends in style.
But perhaps one among them is not so eager to pardon her past misdeeds. Veronica is found lying in the ruins of manor house Clifden Castle with an antique Tara Brooch buried in her heart–the same brooch Tara Meehan admired in her shop the day before, posting a photo with the caption: #Killerbrooch. Now she’s a prime suspect, along with Veronica’s guests, all of whom had motives to stab the heiress. It’s up to Tara to pin down the guilty party…
What I Loved:
- The “Closed Universe” Mystery. I am a huge fan of Agatha Christie (can you tell?) so any mystery that has a limited pool of suspects with a wide range of motives is a hit for me. While the pool of suspects stay in a ritzy hotel, the concept is still the same: limited suspects, short window of time, unlikeable victim, and one outside observer to solve it all. Tara is in the unenviable position of being the one person who didn’t want the victim(s) dead, but in the thick of the investigation with a lot on riding on finding the killer. I loved how all of Veronica’s family and friends had motive to kill her, and how she one upped them in death. I was kept guessing until the very end. The dynamic between the suspects was also deliciously dramatic!
- Ireland. For anyone who reads this blog, you know I am an absolute sucker for all things Ireland/Scotland, especially cozy mysteries. There is something about the bucolic, green, seaside settings that set the perfect stage for a murder or two. Murder in Connemara was no exception. O’Connor writes about the crumbling ruins of an old cottage, the rolling hills, the beautiful gardens, and walkable towns. She writes about friendly shop owners and dogs that roam the countryside. You feel like you’re in Ireland, and it is perfect.
What Didn’t Work For Me:
- Tara and Danny. I get it, a cozy isn’t a cozy without a “will they, won’t they” relationship. However, Danny and Tara are an objectively awful couple. Danny goes off and does his own thing, Tara pines for him but doesn’t want to seem like she is pining, but when she gets involved in the murder investigation, Danny acts like he owns her and is “so concerned” for her? You can’t have it both ways, guy. Either you are in a relationship or you are not, and there is no controlling a girl like inquisitive and stubborn Tara. Tara, for her part, admits that the majority of the attraction is sexual, but no other guy has been introduced to give the audience some spice. I wish O’Connor wouldn’t make their relationship so turbulent, because it is more distracting than endearing.
- Tara’s Sleuthing. On the one hand, I love heroines that are great amateur sleuths who piece together the clues and solve the mystery in the end (every cozy ever). On the other hand, Tara managing to convince the garda (Irish police) to officially involve her in their investigation is farfetched, especially since she was a suspect in the prior book in the series. I like the garda in this series, since they seem mostly competent and willing to dig deeper than the surface, but Tara genuinely doesn’t seem to think they can do their jobs. I generally dislike the “bumbling detective” trope, and here O’Connor avoids that but still makes the heroine have a lack of faith in the law. It feels ingenuine.
Murder in Connemara is number two in Carlene O’Connor’s new Home to Ireland Mystery series. It is significantly better than book one, Murder in Galway, but this series is simply not as strong as O’Connor’s Irish Village series. I like this series, but don’t love it. However, if you love most cozies and love a spunky, inquisitive heroine that strikes out on her own, Murder in Connemara is a solid choice. Three waves out of five!
Pick up your copy here (out now in paperback and on sale with Bookshop!) If you haven’t started the series, pick up your copy of Murder in Galway here, and if you want to read the Irish Village series with the formidable O’Sullivan family, pick up book one (Murder in an Irish Village) here!