A Turn for the Bad

A Turn for the Bad

Title:  A Turn for the Bad (County Cork Mystery 4)
Author:  Sheila Connolly
Publisher:  Penguin
Publication Date:  2016
ISBN:  978-0-425-27342-5

Book Summary:
Local farmer John Tully went out for an evening walk with his young son Eoin.  Hours later when he didn’t return, his wife asked his brother Conor to look for him.  Conor finds Eoin cold, alone, and scared but otherwise unharmed on the beach but there is no sign of his father.  Local gardai and the Irish Coast Guard, friends and neighbors search the Cork coast but there is no sign of John.  Then, a few days later, a body washes up on the shore.  As the news quickly spreads, there is a surprise discovery: the dead man is a stranger.

After the death of her grandmother, Maura Donovan headed to Ireland and discovered that she had inherited Sullivan’s Pub in a small tight-knit Irish community.  After seven months, she is still struggling to get her bearings on understanding the intricacies of the local customs, on dispensing of news and keeping community secrets, and on working the heating system in her home.  As the pub becomes a meeting place to share news and comfort, Maura senses the undertone that there is more going on with John’s disappearance than is said.

Local gardai and Maura’s friend Sean asks her to keep her ears and eyes open.  The Garda Siochana, the Irish Navy and Customs, and the National Crime Agency are all working together on something big; rumors of drug smuggling along the coast are keeping them focused but Maura is concerned that John’s disappearance may be unduly linked with the operation.  Concern for John and his family overwhelm Maura’s sense of justice and she may be forced to choose between what is right and what is lawful.

Book Commentary:
Sheila Connolly has three different book series that I follow.  This is the fourth book in the County Cork series and it is a well-structured cozy mystery.  As you know, one of my biggest pet peeves is the plausibility of reoccurring crimes and murders in an unrealistic place.  Connelly has done a great job with this series as Maura is the bar keep of a pub that serves as the lifeblood to this small Irish community.  Residents stop in daily for a pint before they head home from work and it becomes a place for the exchange of news, gossip, and information.

The cast of characters aren’t cartoony as is often found in stories written about certain locales.  Billy is a great character who has lived in the town forever and provides a lot of stories and backgrounds.  It is believable that Maura would seek out his insight and knowledge.  Maura’s employee Mick is personable and yet a bit full of the blarney.  I really like how the reader gets to observe the town and its residents through Maura’s eyes and learn about life in her new country as she does.  This story also featured a bit of history about Irish whiskey which was also quite interesting!

Who might like this book:
If you like mysteries set in Ireland, this series has a lot of character.  I also would highly suggest Sheila Connolly’s Orchard Mysteries and Museum Mysteries.  The County Cork Mysteries in order are:

Buried in a Bog
Scandal in Skibbereen
An Early Wake
A Turn for the Bad

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