Jan 102019
 


The Lost Traveller: A County Cork Mystery
Cozy Mystery
7th in Series
Setting – Ireland
Crooked Lane Books (January 8, 2019)
Hardcover: 336 pages
ISBN-10: 1683318900
ISBN-13: 978-1683318903
Kindle ASIN: B07D2J14S8

Danger comes to Cork in the seventh County Cork mystery from New York Times bestselling author Sheila Connolly, and it’s up to Maura Donovan to find a way to protect all she’s worked for.

Pub owner Maura Donovan is settling into a charmed life in Ireland—until a mutilated body on her property ends her lucky streak.

Boston expat Maura Donovan came to Ireland to honor her grandmother’s last wish, but she never expected to stay in provincial County Cork—much less to inherit a house and a pub, Sullivan’s, in the small village of Leap. After a year-long struggle to stay in the black, Sullivan’s is finally thriving, and Maura has even brought back traditional Irish music to the pub. With a crop of new friends and a budding relationship with handsome Mick Nolan, Maura’s life seems rosier than ever—but even in Ireland, you can’t always trust your luck.

It begins with Maura’s discovery of a body in the ravine behind the pub. And then, the Irish gardaí reveal that the victim’s face has been battered beyond recognition. Who is the faceless victim? Who wanted him dead? And why was his body dumped in the backyard of Sullivan’s Pub? Even after the dead man is finally given a name, nobody admits to knowing him. In the tight-knit world of Leap, no one is talking—and now it’s up to Maura to uncover the dark secrets that lurk beneath the seemingly quiet town.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

After less than a year in Ireland Maura has been involved in solving several murders. This time the body is found in the ravine behind the pub and the man is unrecognizable due to his face being beaten to a pulp. It is hard to find a killer when you can’t identify the victim but that doesn’t keep Maura from trying.

I love this series, but this installment had a couple of issues for me. First, Maura is a smart woman, she was brave enough to travel to Ireland and take over the pub she inherited, but in this story, she surprised me.  Things she should have known like where her employees live and where Indiana is located within the U.S. were just two examples. Leap is not that big of a town to know where people reside, especially a man she is romantically involved with, and the majority of high school graduates should be able to visualize a map of the country they grew up in. She also seemed muddled about where she wanted to take her business, whether to add a kitchen or not, even though her employee, Rose, is in training to be a cook for the pub.

I love Rose, seventeen and going places. She is filled with ideas, confident, willing to learn, and such a hard worker. I think she has grown so much over this series while Maura seems to be going backward.

I really enjoyed learning about The Travellers and the way they are different from gypsies. A very interesting life, I wish we would have met more Travellers and learned their stories.

The mystery was hard to solve even after the man was identified, virtually no suspects. Maura’s theory kind of came out of blue along with the theme the ran throughout the book. She kept talking about it to everyone, so at times it got a little repetitious, but she didn’t give up and soon all the matters fell into place for a  very unusual ending that I really appreciated. The theme is a current hot topic in the states and it was interesting to learn about it with an Irish twist.

My issues with Maura’s character development aside, this was an entertaining story that kept my attention. It was unique in several ways and I enjoyed that.

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

Note – The first four of this series were published by Berkley Prime Crime.
The series continues with books 5, 6 and 7 published by Crooked Lane Books.

 About The Author

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.

 



Thanks to the publisher I have 1 copy to give away!
The contest is open to anyone over 18 years old
with a US mailing address.

Duplicate entries will be deleted. Void where prohibited.

You do not have to be a follower to enter but I hope you will find
something you like here and become a follower.

Followers Will Receive 2 Bonus Entries For Each Way They Follow.
Plus 2 Bonus Entries For Liking My Facebook Fan Page.

Follow Crooked Lane on Twitter on Twitter for 2 Bonus Entries!

Add this book to your WANT TO READ shelf on GoodReads for 3 Bonus Entries.

Pin this giveaway to Pinterest for 3 Bonus Entries.

If you share the giveaway on Twitter or Facebook or anywhere you will receive
5 Bonus Entries For Each Link.

Contest Will End January 24, 2019, at 11:59 PM CST
Winner Will Be Chosen By Random.org
Winner Will Be Notified By Email
and Will Be Posted Here In The Sidebar.

Click Here For Entry Form

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.”

Jan 162018
 

Many a Twist: A County Cork Mystery
Cozy Mystery
6th in Series
Setting – Ireland
Crooked Lane Books (January 9, 2018)
Hardcover: 320 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1683314530
Kindle ASIN: B072LTRZXS

 

 

Pub owner Maura Donovan hasn’t seen her mother for over twenty years, so when she suddenly shows up in Maura’s pub, Maura’s not sure what to expect. Her mother is trying to find a life for herself back home and has taken up a position working with the new owners of the Crann Mor hotel just outside Skibbereen. Until her new boss is found dead in the gardens, dumped down the hillside behind the hotel.

Now, trying to rekindle the relationship they’ve lost, Maura must investigate in order to clear her mother’s name. It’s not so easy though, as long-time residents of County Cork, including the families of her employee Mick, and the family of the deceased hotel owner, have bottled deep dark family secrets not meant to be uncorked. And someone will kill to keep them that way.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

What a story! Maura Donovan’s mother left her with her grandmother when she was just 2 years old. Now after all these years she shows up in Ireland working on the acquisition of a local hotel. When the head of the company ends up dead Maura’s mother has to tell her who she is before she reveals it to the police. The death has yet to be labeled as a murder but after Maura’s previous relationship with the local garda, she is looped right into the investigation.  She also has her hands full helping her best friend get ready for the birth of her baby, and Mick reveals something about his past that Maura never expected. Family secrets play a major part in this book and as they are revealed things could get dangerous.

Many A Twist is the perfect title for this story. There were twists on top of twists and a few turns thrown in as well. The main plot and the subplots twist up to create a very entertaining story. One that is very hard to put down.

The character development over the span of this series is excellent. Just a year ago Maura arrived in Leap unsure of herself and unsure if she was going to stay in Ireland. Since that time she has made many friends, has expanded her business, and helped out with several police investigations.  She has made herself at home in her little cottage too and learns more about the area every day.

The supporting cast has also grown and changed since the beginning. Their relationships with Maura are stronger but they are also dealing with their own issues. A marriage pending, a young woman looking toward her future, a couple learning all about raising their son, and a man coming to terms with his past. Several more characters round out the cast too.

I have never been to Ireland but the way this author describes the setting of the stories in this series, I can picture it very clearly. The pub, Maura’s cottage, the countryside, a bog or two, and added in this story the Crann Mor hotel and its garden paths.

I have enjoyed this series from the start. I am excited when a new story comes out and sad when it ends much too soon. These literary trips to Ireland remind me of my own little bit of Irish heritage and I can’t wait for my next visit.

You can’t go wrong with a story penned by Sheila Connolly. She is an awesome storyteller.

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

Note – The first four of this series were published by Berkley Prime Crime.
The series continues with books 5 and 6 published by Crooked Lane Books.

 About The Author

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.”

Mar 112017
 

Note – Previous installments of this series were published by Berkley Prime Crime.
I am thrilled they are continuing at Crooked Lane Books.

Cruel Winter: A County Cork Mystery
Cozy Mystery
5th in Series
Setting – Ireland
Crooked Lane Books
Release Date – March 14, 2017
Hardcover: 304 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1683311003
Kindle ASIN: B01MU8WVIL

 

 

Snow is a rarity in Maura Donovan’s small village in County Cork, Ireland, so she wasn’t sure what to expect when a major snowstorm rolled in around Sullivan’s pub. But now she’s stranded in a bar full of patrons–and a suspected killer in a long-ago murder.

Maura’s been in Ireland less than a year and hasn’t heard about the decades-old unsolved crime that took place nearby, let alone the infamous suspect, Diane Caldwell. But the locals have, and they’re not happy to be trapped with her. Diane, meanwhile, seeks to set the record straight, asserting her innocence after all this time. And since no one is going anywhere in the storm, Maura encourages Diane to share her side of the story, which she’d never had a chance to do in court.

Over the next few hours, the informal court in Sullivan’s reviews the facts and theories about the case–and comes to some surprising conclusions. But is it enough to convince the police to take a new look at an old case?

Dollycas’s Thoughts

What happens when it snows in Ireland? Like Maura I had not really thought about it but Sheila Connolly gives us and Maura just a little taste of the Irish lands covered in snow.

The snow is falling and friends and strangers are gathering at Sullivan’s Pub to wait out the storm.  They have plenty of ale and fuel for the fire. Food is a little sparse but with a little creativity from Rose she stretches what she has enough to feed everyone. One of the strangers is Diane Caldwell, like Maura she had family that lived in the area, but she hasn’t been back to Leap in years. The local authorities had her pegged as the prime suspect in the murder of another young woman several years ago but never has enough evidence to make an arrest. Most of locals recognized her immediately.  So because of the snow storm she has a captive audience. Could there be a better time to tell her side of the story? Heck, her listeners may even be able to shed light on something that had been missed all those years ago.

At first I thought this was going to be a closed room type mystery where the real guilty party just happened to be in the room too, but Ms. Connolly gives the story a nice twist showing fresh sets of eyes and ears can uncover new clues on an old cold case. She lets Diane tell her story and Maura and the other patrons ask questions and test out theories trying to find some way to prove Diane really is innocent and maybe give the garda a new lead on this old crime.

The characters in this story are so rich. I love Maura, but I really love Billy. He is an elderly man that basically holds court in the pub each day telling stories. This time his knowledge of the history and the land in the area help Maura and the others to keep pushing forward with new ideas. The author has set the scene so well in all the books in this series it is so easy to picture him in his overstuffed chair in front of the fire regaling everyone with his thoughts about the case.

Connolly also describes the rest of the pub, including the basement, in such detail readers are given a bird’s eye seat for the whole story. Even the snow falling outside and the drafts around the windows are easy to see and feel. They were so real I found myself pulling a blanket around my shoulders to keep away the cold.

In addition to the main plot, Gillian has some changes coming in her life and she is getting near to having her baby. Jimmy has a new woman in his life and Rose is growing up so fast.

I have enjoyed every book this author has written and this one is no different. I am so glad Maura decided to stay in County Cork. That little bit of the Irish in me anxiously awaits for each trip to Sullivan’s where Maura pours me a pint and I can sit and relax among friends.

Thank you Sheila for another wonderful escape!

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

 About The Author

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 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.”

Jul 212016
 

as death draws near

As Death Draws Near
(A Lady Darby Mystery)

Historical Cozy Mystery
5th in Series
Setting – Ireland
A Berkley Prime Crime Mystery (July 5, 2016)
An Imprint of Penguin Random House LLC
Paperback: 352 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0425277720
E-Book ASIN: B016JPTK2I
goodreads-badge-add-plusShop Indie Bookstores

The latest mystery from the national bestselling author of A Study in Death tangles Lady Kiera Darby and Sebastian Gage in a dangerous web of religious and political intrigue.

July 1831. In the midst of their idyllic honeymoon in England’s Lake District, Kiera and Gage’s seclusion is soon interrupted by a missive from her new father-in-law. A deadly incident involving a distant relative of the Duke of Wellington has taken place at an abbey south of Dublin, Ireland, and he insists that Kiera and Gage look into the matter.

Intent on discovering what kind of monster could murder a woman of the cloth, the couple travel to Rathfarnham Abbey school. Soon a second nun is slain in broad daylight near a classroom full of young girls. With the sinful killer growing bolder, the mother superior would like to send the students home, but the growing civil unrest in Ireland would make the journey treacherous.

Before long, Kiera starts to suspect that some of the girls may be hiding a sinister secret. With the killer poised to strike yet again, Kiera and Gage must make haste and unmask the fiend, before their matrimonial bliss comes to an untimely end…

Dollycas’s Thoughts

It seems Kiera and Gage can’t even have a honeymoon. Lord Gage sends them a message to travel to Dublin to investigate a nun that has been killed at an Abbey. He provides no details so the newly married couple find transport and get to Ireland as quickly as possible. The people of the surrounding area are not quick to provide much more information, even the other nuns at the abbey and the local Constable seems to holding back. Kiera and Gage have their work cut out for them to solve this case. It also tests their new married life as these two very independent people learn to trust their place now as man and wife.

Kiera has grown so much since this series began, much of the thanks to Gage, but now that she is his wife will he fall into the ways of most men in this time and curtail her independence and freedom when it comes to their investigations. The author has shown us both sides and not everything is resolved by the end of this book.

Huber’s stories are very character driven. Servants Anderley and Bree also play major roles in this mystery. Kiera has always been extremely close to Bree and we see Gage and Anderley are very close and trusting as well. We are also introduced to a wide variety of characters and a character from a past story reappears, much to Lady Darby’s dismay.

This mystery includes a lot of history and the murder takes a very interesting turn as we learn more about how that history impacts the nun’s death. I felt it was pretty complex and just a little hard to keep straight at times. There were so many players, secondary and minor characters that all played a part.

As I have come to expect from this author she paints amazing pictures with her words. The areas around the Abbey formed immediately in my mind. The portion of the story that takes place on the ship almost had me weaving with the motion of the waves.

As I have said in previous reviews to get the most out of these series the stories should be read from the start but this one does read well as a stand alone as the author gives us plenty of background.

I love that as the 5th book in this series that characters are fresh and engaging and the mystery is excellent. The author gives us a little tease for book number six and that made me so happy. I really want to go on more adventures with Mr. & Mrs. Gage.

perfect 2016

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

To Find out more about Anna Lee Huber visit her website here.

GIVEAWAY

Thanks to the publisher I have 2 copies to give away!
Contest is open to anyone over 18 years old
with a US or Canadian mailing address.

Duplicate entries will be deleted. Void where prohibited.

You do not have to be a follower to enter but I hope you will find
something you like here and become a follower.

Followers Will Receive 2 Bonus Entries For Each Way They Follow.
Plus 2 Bonus Entries For Liking My Facebook Fan Page.

Add this book to your WANT TO READ shelf on GoodReads for 3 Bonus Entries.

Pin this giveaway to Pinterest for 3 Bonus Entries.

If you publicize the giveaway on Twitter or Facebook or anywhere you will receive
5 Bonus Entries For Each Link.

Contest Will End August 4, 2016 at 11:59 PM CST
Winner Will Be Chosen By Random.org
Winner Will Be Notified By Email
and Will Be Posted Here In The Sidebar.

Click Here For Entry Form

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.”

Feb 032016
 

cozy wednesday 2013 640

Welcome to Cozy Wednesday!

Sheila Connolly is back for a visit!  Let’s give her a warm welcome! 

sheila connolly

Hi Everyone, and thank you Lori for hosting me today.

When I started writing about murders in Ireland, everybody told me I had to meet Sergeant Tony. Sergeant Tony is a garda (that’s policeman in Irish, and the national police force is An Garda Síochána, or The Guardian of the Peace). It wasn’t easy to track him down, because the local garda station is small and its officers are often busy, but I kept trying. And I’m very glad I did.

a turn for the badYou see, there’s not a lot of crime in Ireland. Well, maybe in Dublin or Cork or Limerick, but get outside of the cities it’s a very peaceful place. This is both good and bad for me, since I’m trying to write about crimes in Ireland—not Ireland in general, but in one of the safest parts of Ireland, West Cork. There aren’t a lot of murders there (I’ve read the statistics), and I feel guilty about increasing the murder rate by a couple of hundred percent by now, in my books (no, I haven’t killed anyone personally). But that’s why it was important to talk to someone who knows, so I could get the details right.

Sergeant Tony was a gift from the heavens (or if there’s a patron saint of writers, from him or her). He’s had postings all over Ireland, including Northern Ireland, but he’s come back to Cork, where his wife’s family came from. Apart from police procedures, this is an important point: in Ireland, family matters.

He has told me lots of great stories, which I’m going to hoard until I can use some of them in a book. In any case, it’s great to have someone who can answer my stupid questions like, “What time do pubs really close?” Anyone can look up the official times online these days, but what’s the reality? Or, “How do you arrest someone?” In fact, it has to go through the Dublin office, to get a warrant. And more recently, I’ve asked him, “How do you reopen a closed case, or one that’s been dormant for a long time?” That’s for the next book.

A Turn for the Bad grew out of one of the stories Sergeant Tony told me. He was referring to a case from several years ago (long since solved), but I discovered other related cases when I looked it up. It involves smuggling, a time-honored tradition in an area with a lot of coves and beaches that nobody is watching. But in the modern world, it’s hard to turn a blind eye when there are millions of euros worth of illegal drugs arriving on Ireland’s shores (on their way to Europe, not for local consumption!). Still, people might look the other way—until one of their own gets entangled, through no fault of his own.

And that’s where Maura Donovan comes in, helping to put the pieces together to make a daring rescue, with the help of some unlikely friends. Because that’s what people do in Ireland.

~Sheila

Thank you Sheila for visiting today. I hope you come back soon! 

a turn for the badA Turn for the Bad:
A County Cork Mystery

4th in Serie
Cozy Mystery
Setting – Ireland
A Berkley Prime Crime Mystery (February 2, 2016)
An Imprint of Penguin Random House LLC
Cover Illustration by Daniel Craig
Cover Design by Judith Lagerman
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0425273425
goodreads-badge-add-plusShop Indie Bookstores

The New York Times bestselling author of An Early Wake returns to Ireland where Sullivan’s Pub owner Maura Donovan gets mixed up with smugglers.

After calling Ireland home for six months, Boston expat Maura Donovan still has a lot to learn about Irish ways—and Sullivan’s Pub is her classroom. Maura didn’t only inherit a business, she inherited a tight-knit community. And when a tragedy strikes, it’s the talk of the pub. A local farmer, out for a stroll on the beach with his young son, has mysteriously disappeared. Did he drown? Kill himself? The child can say only that he saw a boat.

Everyone from the local gardai to the Coast Guard is scouring the Cork coast, but when a body is finally brought ashore, it’s the wrong man. An accidental drowning or something more sinister? Trusting the words of the boy and listening to the suspicions of her employee Mick that the missing farmer might have run afoul of smugglers, Maura decides to investigate the deserted coves and isolated inlets for herself. But this time she may be getting in over her head…

Dollycas’s Thoughts

I couldn’t wait to return to Ireland and Sullivan’s Pub. In this 4th book, Maura just blooms. People are coming to the pub to await news about a local farmer that has gone missing. He was walking on the beach with his 4 year old son when he disappeared. All the little boy can offer is that he saw a boat. The sea has taken many men, did it take this man too?

As the days go by and she listens to the people around her, including the farmer’s brother, she starts to realize what may have happened. She decides to do a bit of investigating to see if what she is thinking could have happened, and if it did, is there any way to save the man and bring him back from his family.

Like An Early Wake, this story has a slow build to draw us in and lets us get to know these very appealing characters. Gillian who usually summers in the area is back due do some upheaval in her life and she moves in with Maura and they become very close. They are also great sounding boards for each other. Maura meets several new people too and learns all about true Irish Whiskey. It is these new people that help her test her theory of what happened to the farmer. There is just a bit of romance too. Both Maura and Gillian are trying to sort out their hearts.

About midway through the book the suspense ratchets up as a plan starts to come together. At this point the book became glued to my hands and the pages turned much faster.  Again we see that crime can be anywhere, even in County Cork. The area around Leap seems to be a prime area for an unsavory time-honored tradition and we find out about it right along with Maura.

This is my favorite book is the series so far. I loved the suspense and the way the author set the groundwork. I loved the humor as Maura learns more about the area, the pub and even her home. I especially enjoy the community feel of Sullivan’s Pub, the way people gather in good times and when things taken A Turn For The Bad. This was an absolutely wonderful read. I want to book my next escape to Ireland today!

perfect 2016

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

About The Author

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 to find out more about her and her books.

GIVEAWAY
Thanks to the people at Penguin I have 2 copies to give away!
Contest is open to anyone over 18 years old
with a US or Canadian mailing address.

Duplicate entries will be deleted. Void where prohibited.

You do not have to be a follower to enter but I hope you will find
something you like here and become a follower.

Followers Will Receive 2 Bonus Entries For Each Way They Follow.
Plus 2 Bonus Entries For Liking My Facebook Fan Page.

This year I am trying to build my Twitter following so for this giveaway 4 Bonus Entries will be awarded by following me on Twitter. @dollycas

Leave a comment for Sheila for 5 Bonus Entries.

Pin this giveaway to Pinterest for 3 Bonus Entries.

If you publicize the giveaway on Twitter or Facebook or anywhere you will receive
5 Bonus Entries For Each Link.

Contest Will End February 17, 2016 at 11:59 PM CST
Winner Will Be Chosen By Random.org
Winner Will Be Notified By Email
and Will Be Posted Here In The Sidebar.

Click Here For Entry Form

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.”

Feb 272015
 

special guest blueI am thrilled to welcome Sheila Connolly to Escape With Dollycas today!
The 3rd County Cork Mystery came out this month and
I was so ready to visit Maura and her Irish Pub!

sheila connolly

I’m amazed to find that I’ve been writing for 14 years now, although I didn’t have a published book to hold until 2008. I had no idea what I was doing when I started writing—I just jumped in. But I always knew I wanted to write about Ireland.

The second book I ever completed was a sweet romance set in West Cork. I hadn’t even dabbled in mystery at that point, but it was the setting that came first: a small pub in a small town on the coast in a far corner of the country. The real place was called Connolly’s. It must have been fate, right?

I found it by accident the first time my family and I traveled to Ireland, mainly looking for where my father’s family had come from. We allowed all of one week for that trip, and part of that was spent in Dublin, so we moved fast. I had done enough research to know that my father’s father’s family had come from someplace north of a village called Leap (which it’s pronounced “lep”—it got its name from O’Donovan’s Leap, where one of the head men of the village escaped pursuing Englishmen by urging his horse to leap over a small river there. He and his horse survived, and the village got its name.)

buried in a bog

We rented a car and pulled into the village (one street, population 210) in the pouring rain, late in the afternoon. We hadn’t made reservations, but we found a B&B with a room, and ate dinner at the local hotel. And when we made our way to the main road the next (sunny!) morning, there was the pub, across the road. Of course we went over and introduced ourselves, and I’ve been going back ever since.

In Buried In a Bog, the first book in the County Cork series, I used the setting of the pub and the town, and then dipped into all the genealogy I’d done on my own family. Then I threw in a body. Where better to solve mysteries than in a pub, where everyone stops in to talk at one time or another? But there’s one problem with writing murder mysteries set in Ireland: there are very few murders. Worse, for most of those that happen, the local police (or gardai in Irish) have a pretty good idea who did the deed. Not a lot of detective work needed!

ScandalActually, Buried In a Bog involves two murders: one that took place a long ago, and a mugging gone wrong in the present—but they’re connected. The second book, Scandal in Skibbereen, brings an American curator to the corner of the country hunting for a lost painting she isn’t even sure exists, and someone dies. Related? It’s not clear, but it was events in the past that led to the truth about the present death.

AN EARLY WAKEThe third book, An Early Wake, is about music in the pub. When most people say “music” and “Ireland” in the same breath, they’re thinking about the traditional style, the Clancy Brothers and the like, with tin whistles and fiddles. But there’s more to it than that—think about U2 or the Cranberries or more recently, Glen Hansard (who wrote the Academy Award winning song Falling Slowly from Once). Irish music lives on in the modern world—and in West Cork, a lot of it happened at Connolly’s (and, yes, Glen Hansard played there). It’s hard to believe when you look at the place, which has all of two rooms that hold (legally) only 200 people, but it was a major attraction up until the last decade, and people still remember.

And that’s what I wanted to capture in An Early Wake. How did that happen, at that time and in that place? How did the word get out, before the Internet? My protagonist Maura Donovan is struggling to figure out a way to keep the pub she’s inherited in the black, so she lets herself be persuaded to try a night of music bringing together some of the players who’d performed there in the past, because local people who remember the old glory days promise her it can happen again. Unfortunately, one of the former performers dies. And once again, the police have to look at the past and the present to understand the death.

There is always a temptation to write about Ireland as though it is all about men in tweed caps with a foaming pint of Guinness in one hand, spinning stories for friends and tourists alike with a charming brogue, with rainbows overhead and sheep frolicking in the very green meadows. I won’t say that’s not true—now and then. But Ireland is both a modern country (with very real modern problems) and a place with long memories of a less than happy past. I try to weave these together in a way that makes the place come alive, in more than one dimension. So I go and I sit in pubs and I listen, and I talk to strangers, and stories drop into my lap. There’s a bit of magic there.

That’s what I fell in love with, the first time I saw Ireland. That’s why I keep going back, and why I write this series.

~Sheila

Find out all about Sheila and her books on her webpage here.

AN EARLY WAKEAn Early Wake
(A County Cork Mystery)

3rd in Series
Cozy Mystery
Setting – Ireland
Release Date: February 3, 2015
A Berkley Prime Crime Mystery
The Berkley Publishing Group
Published by The Penguin Group
Cover Illustration by Daniel Craig
Cover Design by Judith Lagerman
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0425252536
E- Book ASIN: B00LMGK6LY
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Pub owner Maura Donovan may have Irish kin, but she doesn’t seem to have the luck of the Irish. Who could have foreseen that bringing live music back to Sullivan’s Pub would lead to a dead musician?

Summer is ending in County Cork, Ireland, and with it the tourist season. Expat Maura Donovan is determined to keep Sullivan’s Pub in the black as the days grow shorter—but how? When she hears that the place was once a hot spot for Irish musicians who’d come play in the back room, she wonders if bringing back live music might be Sullivan’s salvation.

As word gets out, legendary musicians begin to appear at the pub, and the first impromptu jam session brings in scores of music lovers. But things hit a sour note when Maura finds a dead musician in the back room the next morning. With a slew of potential suspects, it’s going to take more than a pint and a good think to force a murderer to face the music.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

With this 3rd installment Maura realizes she has just been going through the motions of owning her pub. She doesn’t know if she is going to be able to keep it open now that the tourists are gone. She voices her concerns to her friend Bridget who assures her things will work out. When a college student comes around telling her the pub was a place musicians used to come just to “jam” she is totally taken by surprise. But Billy, resident historian and storyteller confirms it to be true and even gets word out that musicians are again welcome and they really start to show up she realizes Bridget was right. Then one of the musicians dead in the back room. Maura realizes the music may have died with him.

The author took a different approach to this mystery. There was so much discussion and build up of the music and musicians from years gone by that I suddenly realized that I was 100 pages into the story and we didn’t have a murder yet. I was caught up in the history so that wasn’t a bad thing, just unusual for a cozy mystery. In fact I was prepared for the murder to be more of a subplot which I feel it turned out to be. Maura’s journey was the main plot, life running the pub she inherited, her relationships with Billy, Mick, Rose, Bridget, Jimmy and Sean. Is there more romance ahead? and with who?, and realizing she is starting to finally be accepted by the people of Leap. I enjoyed this.

There was the drama of the dead musician and finding out why he died and excitement as things played out but to me it wrapped up pretty quickly.

I do love these characters and was quite surprised by the direction the author is taking some of them. I am sad that I have to wait a year to find out what happens. She teases us nicely at the end so wait we will, until out next trip to County Cork.

just you and a friend4 STARFISH

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

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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.”

Feb 272014
 

Scandal
Scandal in Skibbereen
(A County Cork Mystery)

2nd in Series
Cozy Mystery
A Berkley Prime Crime Mystery
The Berkley Publishing Group (February 4, 2014)
Published by The Penguin Group
Cover Illustration By Daniel Craig
Cover Design By Judith Lagerman
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0425252505
E-Book File Size: 1280 KB
ASIN: B00DYX9KFQ
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In this second installment of the County Cork Mysteries Bostonian Maura is beginning to feel settled in her new Irish home and as owner of an Irish Pub. She is anxious to see what kind of business she will have a the summer tourist season begins.

Althea Melville arrives from the U.S. but she is not on a pleasure trip. She is on a mission to find a rare painting and she believes she may find it in County Cork, not far away from Maura’s pub. Althea is not use to Irish traditions and comes across as “a bull in a China shop” as she tries to get Maura and others to help her find the painting. When a gardener is found dead outside of a local manor house Maura starts to question Althea’s motives and thinks there is much more to her story than just local for a piece of art.

Dollycas’s Thoughts
Finding out I have a bit of Irish heritage myself makes me love these mysteries.

Connolly has created some wonderful characters. Maura is still finding her way in her new surroundings but she has something every barkeep needs, the gift of gab. She is friendly and outgoing and really strives to get to know the people around her. Her relationship with Billy reminds me of myself so much. When my parents owned a tavern there was always a group of elders there each day to play cards and share old stories and new. I could sit and listen to them for hours and they taught me how to win at cards too.

I also love the recurring characters and the way Maura’s relationships with all of them are evolving. Especially the relationship she has with Garda Officer Sean Murphy.

The new character that captured my heart was Eveline Townsend, the owner of Mycroft House. This is a woman that is aging gracefully living in a Manor House with only 2 other people and a nephew that helps to pay the bills and visits on a rare occasion, like when one of the employees has been murdered. This woman is much more alert and has a better memory than anyone thought and she knew many secrets that gave this story a few twists and turns.

The mystery of the lost painting and the murder were very well plotted.  The location was sublime. I have been told Spring and Summer are the best times to visit Ireland. You can tell the author loves her setting and has researched it thoroughly. Her love for the Irish countryside just glows throughout the story.

a perfect escape
5 STARFISH

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

About This Author

Sheila Connolly has taught art history, structured and marketed municipal bonds for major cities, worked as a staff member on two statewide political campaigns, and served as a fundraiser for several non-profit organizations. She also managed her own consulting company providing genealogical research services. Now a full-time writer, she thinks writing mysteries is a lot more fun than any of her previous occupations.

She is a member of Sisters in Crime-New England (president 2011), the national Sisters in Crime, and the fabulous on-line SinC chapter, the Guppies. She also belongs to Romance Writers of America and Mystery Writers of America.

Sheila is Regent of her local DAR chapter, and a member of the Society of Mayflower Descendants. She’s also the grandchild of Irish immigrants (in case you’re worried that she’s a snob). In addition to genealogy, Sheila loves restoring old houses, visiting cemeteries, and traveling. She is married, and has one daughter and two cats.

She blogs with Poe’s Deadly Daughters and Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen on Fridays, and Killer Characters the 25th of each month.
Check out her webpage: www.sheilaconnolly.com

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.”

Feb 262013
 

cozy wednesdayWelcome to this special edition of Cozy Wednesday.
There are just so many wonderful cozies coming out each month
that we have to add some extra cozy days.

I am thrilled to welcome Sheila here today because she has a brand new series – The County Cork Mysteries set in Ireland – having a few Irish ancestors myself I couldn’t wait to read this book!

Hi Sheila!

Commerical Portraits for promotional material and novelHi Everyone!

Things have been a little hectic lately as I just launched my third series. Yes, third. Actually it’s my fourth, but the first one was written under a pen name and went away after three books. The others are ongoing (I hope!).

I’ve always read fast, and when I started writing, I found I write fast too. I had no idea what the right speed was, so I just sat down and did it. I like the pace, and besides, when I’m not writing or at least thinking about writing I feel kind of lost. And for most people, including me, writing is not just about slapping down a bunch of words and sending it off to your publisher—there’s a lot of editing and rewriting involved, so often I find myself writing one new one, editing an earlier one, and proofing a third. Yes, it can get confusing!

Warner house with HerbertWhy three series? Because they all reflect parts of my life, linked by the common thread of genealogy. My first series, the Orchard Mysteries, take place in a small town in western Massachusetts, in a colonial house. The house is one I know personally, because my six-times-great-grandfather built it around 1760, and I stayed there when it was a bed and breakfast. The town is real too—a classic New England town with the green in the center, the old white church at one end, and a lot of people whose families have lived there for many generations and whose names are on the road signs. So for the series, the location came first, and then I started adding people to it. I threw in my protagonist, an out-of-work Boston banker, and told her to manage an orchard. Neither of us knew much about orchards when I started, but we’re learning together.

Phila City HallThe second series, the Museum Mysteries, came about because I worked for several years at The Historical Society of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, first as a fundraiser and then as a researcher for hire. I loved working there, in part because it gave me access to amazing collections rich with local history. When I started writing I realized that while most cozies are set in small towns, the cultural community in Philadelphia is like a small town itself, where everyone knows everyone else. Plus there are all sorts of wonderful institutions there to dump a body in.

The most recent is the County Cork Mysteries. The series is based on one of the first books I ever wrote, over ten years ago. Over time some of the characters changed, but the setting never did. My father’s family came from Ireland, but I never had a chance to travel there until about fifteen years ago. He knew very little about the family’s history in Ireland, so I wanted to fill in the blanks. What I never expected was to gobsmacked by the place, in particular West Cork—also known as The Wild West of Ireland—where my grandfather was born. It’s picture postcard pretty, but just a bit wilder. And it’s not a quaint tourist attraction; there are vibrant towns and interesting people and a lot of history there.

Connollys 2000Of course, I was hooked the moment I saw that the small town where we were staying had a pub called Connolly’s. I didn’t know then that Connolly’s was legendary, not for its drinks or its atmosphere, but because it was a mecca for musicians in that part of the world—performers whose names you would recognize. I was privileged to be there at the tail end of its heyday. Alas, the man who was the spirit behind it died a few years back, but the family still owns the place and there’s talk of bringing back the music, and I can promise you I’ll be there.

Ireland is kind of like a cozy setting on steroids. Remember that the population of the entire country is still under five million people, and a lot of them are concentrated in Dublin and Cork city. In the more rural areas, everybody knows who’s who, and who their grandparents were, and who they bought the land from. It’s unsettling to an American used to a sort of anonymity. One example: recently I was in a cemetery in County Cork and ran into a stranger, and we got to talking (as everyone does). It turns out that he knows my second cousin Catherine, one of the only other people I know in Ireland—and she hasn’t lived in the neighborhood for fifty years. Things like that keep happening in Ireland.

buried in a bogI have been so happy with the response to the first book in this series, Buried In a Bog. People write to tell me they want to get on a plane for Ireland immediately. I was so worried that I’d make it sound trite or superficial, but instead I did what I’d hoped to do: convey the spirit of the place. Reviewers have said that my love for Ireland shines through.

Capturing a place on a page is one of the joys of writing. Filling it with characters that people can identify with and care about is another. I feel very lucky to be doing what I do.

~Sheila

Sheila, Thank you so much for visiting today! I don’t know how you do it, keeping all this series going, but I am so glad you do!!!

About This Author

Sheila Connolly has taught art history, structured and marketed municipal bonds for major cities, worked as a staff member on two statewide political campaigns, and served as a fundraiser for several non-profit organizations. She also managed her own consulting company providing genealogical research services. Now a full-time writer, she thinks writing mysteries is a lot more fun than any of her previous occupations.

She is a member of Sisters in Crime-New England (president 2011), the national Sisters in Crime, and the fabulous on-line SinC chapter, the Guppies. She also belongs to Romance Writers of America and Mystery Writers of America.

Sheila is Regent of her local DAR chapter, and a member of the Society of Mayflower Descendants. She’s also the grandchild of Irish immigrants (in case you’re worried that she’s a snob). In addition to genealogy, Sheila loves restoring old houses, visiting cemeteries, and traveling. She is married, and has one daughter and two cats.

She blogs with Poe’s Deadly Daughters and Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen on Fridays, and Killer Characters the 25th of each month.
Check out her webpage: www.sheilaconnolly.com

buried in a bog

Buried In a Bog
(A County Cork Mystery)

A Brand New Series
Cozy Mystery
A Berkley Prime Crime Mystery
The Berkley Publishing Group (February 5, 2013)
Published by The Penguin Group
Cover Illustration by Daniel Craig
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0425251898
E-Book File Size: 531 KB
ASIN: B0095ZMHUW

Honoring her late grandmother’s wish, Maura Donovan sets off on an adventure that could change her life. She travels to the small Irish village where her grandmother was born to connect with one of her grandmother’s friends and maybe learn a bit about her ancestors. The small community welcomes her with open arms and she even start to work in the local pub. 

The pub is bursting at the seams as people gather to talk about the body found in a nearby bog. They speculate he may have been in there for more than 50 years. Maura realizes she man know something about the dead man but before she can talk to the authorities her own life is put in jeopardy. She starts to get that sinking feeling she just may be getting in over her head.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

With an Irish grandfather myself that I never was able to meet I was so excited to read this book. It is a delightful debut to a series that I know I will love.

The author lets us escape to the beautiful countrysides of County Cork. Even when it is raining or foggy it sounds like charming place. She also gives us the history of the townlands and the people. She takes the time to explain the traditional naming patterns found in Ireland like the first born son is named for the father’s father. This custom could get quite confusing in large families. It gives an interesting twist to the story.

We are with Maura just as she starts on her journey to discover Ireland and its people. I am really looking forward to getting to know all the characters better in the next installments, especially Rose. She seems to have led a life very similar to Maura’s. Life runs at a much faster speed in Boston than it does in Leap but both stuck pretty close to home and put family needs ahead of their own. I look forward to a time of awakening for both young ladies. 

Maura’s adventure to Ireland was quite a treat, the mysteries added were just icing on the cake. I am ready for my trip back to County Cork today. I can’t wait for book #2.

a perfect escape

5 STARFISH

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

Thanks to the people at Penguin
I have 2 copies to giveaway!!

PLUS 1 COPY DIRECT FROM SHEILA CONNOLLY!

U.S. and CANADIAN RESIDENTS
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Contest Will End March 12, 2013 at 11:59 PM CST
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Winners Will Be Notified By Email
and Will Be Posted Here In The Sidebar.

CLICK HERE FOR ENTRY FORM

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.”

readalattechallenge_zps01d248d085941mystery challenge2013where are you reading1st in a series

Aug 162012
 

Broken Harbor: A Novel
Viking (July 24, 2012)
Published by The Penguin Group
Mystery
Hardcover: 464 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0670023653

Broken Harbor (Dublin Murder Squad, #4)

Mick “Scorcher” Kennedy is the top detective in the Murder Squad. He is now partnered with rookie Richie Curran, just out of uniform. Kennedy has dropped down to #2 in solve rates in his department. Then he is handed what should be a dream case.

Patrick Spain and his two children are found dead in one of the half-built/half abandoned “luxury developments” in a place called Brainstown. His wife Jenny is in intensive care.

What was first thought to be an easy case turns out to be a lot harder when too many clues can’t be explained.

The neighborhood used to be called Broken Harbor and Kennedy’s family has a little history with the place. His sister Dina freaks out when she sees the case on the news. She is remembering something about the summer they spent there as kids. Something “Scorcher” thought was deeply buried.

Kennedy has his hands full as he tries to solve the case and keep his sister safe and out of trouble.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

I was so looking forward to reading this book. It really had me well past halfway but then it just seemed to fall apart.

This book is a police procedural type story which I usually find very interesting. This one started really good but after the middle is really started to drag and got boring. Yes, boring. I found myself barely skimming through the pages just to get to the end. I had figured out who-dun-it very early on and all the dialogue, tons of dialogue was just filling pages to tell readers what we already knew. Then at the end there were still so many questioned answered. Almost 500 pages and we are left to wonder about so much.

What really upset me was when the lead character started to make some choices a man in his position would never make. A law and order guy would not risk his career this way.

As far as the other characters, his other sister Geri just seems to be too lackadaisical about their sister, Dina, with the mental heath issues. Dina was just plain annoying. My verdict is still out on the rookie Curran, he could develop into a solid character in a future installment.

I have enjoyed other French novels and by the end of this one I was even questioning if she had really written this story. I got to the end and realized I really knew nothing about Mike Kennedy. The man had absolutely no real back story. His life was his job occasionally uninterrupted by his crazy sister.

I know Tana French is a much better writer than this and I hope her next book is shorter and full of the dynamic characters and the thrills I know she can deliver.

Dollycas

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent

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.”

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