The Death of an Irish Lover: An Inspector Peter Mcgarr Mystery

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9780380977970: The Death of an Irish Lover: An Inspector Peter Mcgarr Mystery

Crime runs rampant in the ancient, picture-perfect town of Leixleap on Ireland's famed River Shannon. So many thieves have been furtively harvesting the succulent, gourmet-prized and high-priced eels that flourish in the river that there's an Eel Police division whose job is to find and arrest the evildoers. But while poaching may he a matter local lawmen can handle, murder is quite another thing. And when it occurs, a frantic call for help goes out to Dublin and Chief Inspector Peter McGarr.

The Death Of An Irish Lover

The call has come from a source Peter doesn't much trust: Tim Tallon, a boyhood acquaintance who was once a tactless bully, but has grown up to become - on the surface, at least - a substantial citizen, thanks to his common-law liaison with a well-heeled Belgian woman. The two now own a luxury inn, joined to a lowbrow pub with hot-sheet accommodations for dirty weekenders and their lecherous like. In one of its beds lies a nude couple, so intimately intertwined that one bullet seemingly killed them both.

She was Eel Policewoman Ellen Gilday: young, pretty, and recently married, but not to her partner in death. He was Pascal Burke, her boss, a divorced womanizer more than twice her age. It seems that their unsavory affair has been going on for months, both before and after her marriage to a highly regarded local lad, Quintan Finn.

McGarr soon finds a witness who may also he a suspect: the charismatic but conniving head bartender, Benny Carson. A former policymaker for the Irish Republican Army, Benny blithely confesses to the double murder as an act of revenge on behalf of the cuckolded Quinton, his nephew. But when McGarr disallows the trickster's "confession," Benny then fingers the infamous Frakes brothers, Manus and Donal, former IRA thugs now employed in eel poaching and various other outside-the-low activities. Benny claims they had involved his hapless nephew in their schemes and done the murders in his behalf.

But once again, nothing is clearcut. What seems to be an unraveling mystery is merely a wad of loose ends. There are unexplained oddities, like the seven-year-old girl prowling outside Tallon's inn with a beeper. The testimony of the maid who found the bodies is hopelessly skewed. And more suspects keep turning up as McGarr finds that the victims might have enraged not only their spouses but also eel fishermen, both legitimate and otherwise, and environmentalists, who have long suspected the two were on the take.

In this clever and beguiling novel, Bartholomew Gill not only creates a stunningly complex puzzle but also gives the reader an authentic look at the charms, the challenges, and the fascinating contradictions that exist in present-day Ireland. The result is a work that is both informative and unfailingly entertaining.

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Review:

Chief Inspector Peter McGarr is back, this time to investigate a double homicide in Leixleap, a village on the River Shannon. The murder takes place in a fancy inn owned by Tim Tallon, a loudmouth who bullied McGarr when they were boys. Tallon calls McGarr to the murder scene to beg a favor of his old friend--that McGarr keep the murder investigation hush-hush. The naked victims--so intimately entwined that one bullet seems to have killed them both--were officers in Leixleap's Eel Division, a department with a directive to hunt down poachers. The female officer was a belle, recently married but not to her partner in death. The male is her boss and twice her age, a local tomcat.

Beneath a moody winter sky, author Bartholomew Gill brings to life this engaging Irish fishing village, where I.R.A. thugs routinely steal eels from harvesters. A charismatic but cunning bartender clues McGarr in on the scene. The villagers all know each other's business, so gossip penetrates fact in interesting ways. McGarr weaves together fragments--observations, opinions, guesswork--and has a knack for knowing when people lie or tell less than they know. Fans of the Peter McGarr mystery series already know that they can expect a vivid portrait of contemporary Ireland, at once realistic and just far enough removed from reality to feel like a vacation. Newcomers will be happy to enter the lives of McGarr and his familiars. Death of an Irish Lover is an entertaining good time. --Kathi Inman Berens

About the Author:

Bartholomew Gill authored 15 Peter McGarr mysteries, among them The Death of an Irish Lover, The Death of an Irish Tinker, and the Edgar Award nominee The Death of a Joyce Scholar. A graduate of Trinity College, Dublin, Gill wrote as Mark McGarrity for the Star-Ledger. He died in 2002.

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