Fatal Roots: A County Cork Mystery
8th in Series
Setting – Ireland
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books (January 7, 2020)
Hardcover: 281 pages
Kindle ASIN: B07QFN28X8
Some secrets are too big to stay buried…
A few months ago, Boston expat Maura Donovan was rekindled with her mother after more than twenty years of absence. Since then, Maura has been getting accustomed to Irish living, complete with an inherited house and a pub named Sullivan’s. But now, her mother has returned–and she’s brought Maura’s half-sister in tow. To make matters more confusing, a handful of Cork University students are knocking on Maura’s door asking about a mystical fairy fort that happens to be located on Maura’s piece of land.
The lore indicates that messing with the fort can cause bad luck, and most everyone is telling Maura not to get too involved for fear of its powers, but Maura is curious about her own land, and she definitely doesn’t buy into the superstition. Then one of the students disappears after a day of scoping out the fort on Maura’s property.
Maura treads carefully, asking the folks around town who might have an idea, but no one wants anything to do with these forts. She has to take matters into her own hand–it’s her land, after all. But when she uncovers a decades-old corpse buried in the center of the fort, nothing is for certain.
This is a very hard review for me to write because this series had so much promise. I have been really enjoying my excursions to Ireland but for the second book in a row, the protagonist has driven me crazy.
Maura Donovan inherited a pub in Leap over a year ago through an agreement her grandmother, the woman who raised her, made with the previous owner. Her inheritance also included a cottage and we learn in this book several pieces of land. When she arrived she apparently signed a bunch of papers not realizing what she was signing and just went on her merry way showing up each day at the pub and returning to the cottage each night finding a dead body or two along the way. She recently reconnected with her mother and in this story meets her step-sister. She has two employees, a young lass named Rose, who is studying culinary arts so that the pub can start serving food, and Mick Sullivan, the bartender who Maura has a romantic relationship with.
Thank God for Rose and Mick because Maura knows nothing about running a business and after a year doesn’t seem willing to learn. She can’t answer basic questions about her business plans. She has a unique opportunity to get all the appliances she needs for free but has no clue what she wants or needs and passes all responsibility to Rose. Her younger sister who has just arrived in Ireland takes more interest and has more ideas than Maura.
In this story, a college student awakens Maura one morning asking to look for fairy forts on Maura’s land. I was excited to learn about the mystical fairy creations but when Maura didn’t even know what land was hers I was just shaking my head. While she may not be a farmer, her land could be rented out to make additional money to fix up the pub or other expenses but no one has ever approached Maura about this at all. That aside, the fairy forts are a very cool thing. A lot of folklore surrounds them and many believe they are best left alone and that angering the fairies could cause perilous consequences. The student offers to show Maura her maps on a computer but Maura explains she doesn’t have one and wouldn’t know how to use one if she did.
The student is joined by two classmates with equipment to help her investigate and record the fairy forts she finds but when they split up for lunch one of the students disappears. Maura gets the local garda involved and she and Mick do a little investigating on their own. They don’t find the student but do find a body buried in the center of one of the fairy forts. A body that has been there for decades. When the man is identified Maura finds there is a connection to her own past. In fact, the man’s story was an old one. A story just two people are still alive to tell, which they do after being put off for hours. Oh yes, and the student turns up too and is also connected to the old story.
I get that things in leap are laid back, at least around Sullivan’s Pub. Up the road, Maura’s mother is busy trying to get a hotel back on its feet following a murder in a previous book, but I just want Maura to be more engaged and not so lackadaisical. I like that her sister has come to visit and that Maura is making inroads with the mother that abandoned her.
My issues with Maura aside, and yes I qualified my review for the previous book the same way, there are some really good things in this story. I love Rose, she is smart and can think on her feet. The fairy fort theme was very interesting and after reading this story I want to know more. There was a lot of repetition throughout the book which was frustrating, tightening it up would make a shorter but better story.
Other series by this author have been very enjoyable and entertaining. With my Irish heritage, this series was a fave. I hope between now and the next book Maura has a grand awakening and realizes all she has been blessed with and starts to take it seriously.
Note – The first four of this series were published by Berkley Prime Crime.
The series continues with books published by Crooked Lane Books.
Sheila is the author of many fantastic reads. She not only writes County Cork Mysteries but the Orchard Mysteries and the Museum Mysteries too. Visit Sheila’s webpage here to find out more about her and her books.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”