The Sting of Justice (Burren Mysteries) by Cora Harrison

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The Sting of Justice (Burren Mysteries) by Cora Harrison

Category: Crime (Historical)
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Elaine Dingsdale
Reviewed by Elaine Dingsdale
Summary: Local mine owner and wealthy silversmith, Sorley, is found dead outside the village church. Stung repeatedly by bees… was this a tragic accident, or an on the spur of the moment attempted murder? The silversmith has many enemies and few friends but surely such a sporadic occurrence must have been the result of an accident? Or was it?
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 300 Date: May 2009
Publisher: Macmillan
ISBN: 978-1405092272

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Having recently read and reviewed Cora Harrison's second Burren mystery, it was with great excitement that I noticed that Bookbag had the third in the series available to review! I had a strong suspicion that a treat was in store for me-and I was not disappointed.

Once again, the author returns us to the tight knit community of the Burren, in 16th century Ireland. A wonderfully atmospheric location, peopled by very real and in the main, loveable people (excepting the local rogues, of course). One of the many things I enjoyed in the previous books in the series, was the very tangible characters, who bring the story to life, with their own particular brand of goodwill and humour. Mara is simply a fabulous protagonist - indeed, a good role model for the 21st century, with her uncanny blend of professionalism, family values, and forward thinking. King Turlough, to whom she is engaged, is another superb creation - already in my eyes beginning to rival Diana Gabaldon's Jamie from The Crosstitch series, as a very admirable hunk. The potential that this relationship affords the series cannot be underestimated, and I look forward to their forthcoming marriage and life together.

A wide array of characters people the novel, and the relationships between them all is well documented, and gives interesting insights into potential motives for the suspected crime. However, over and above the necessity to have motivations exposed, the real strength of the novel is its gentle but in depth awareness of the characters, their fears and foibles, their hopes and dreams. The balance is beautifully struck between crime novel and historical novel, and is all the richer and more flowing for this. As in previous novels, the scholars in Mara's law school lend a fabulous flavour of youth - the Famous Five of the 16th century! Having said that, their contributions to solving the crime are vital, so don't underestimate the role the scholars play in the denouement of the plot - they do far more than offering an amusing glimpse into the schooling of the time.

The plot in itself is very clever, and had me guessing virtually to the final chapter. Early on I had an inkling as to what had happened and why - but once again the author offers several red herrings for us to chase… and alas, my sleuthing was faulty in the extreme! Whilst the victim was a most unpleasant character, somehow the author manages to enable the reader to feel a certain compassion for him - despicable he may have been, but we are left wondering how and why he became quite so unpleasant. I feel the author's ability to portray different and complex aspects to her characters' personalities, is a great strength, and lifts her work far above the murder/mystery genre.

Once again, the local countryside is beautifully presented - evocative and picturesque descriptions, threatening and hostile landscapes - Cora Harrison is equally competent at handling both. The scenes on the mountainside whilst the rescue was underway, were simply stunning, and enabled me to picture the scene very clearly - a difficult thing for many authors, but one at which this one excels.

I feel that I learned a lot from this book about the local customs and culture, and find myself increasingly intrigued by the tenets of the Brehon law. Harrison gives quite a lot of detail, at times comparing and contrasting to the equivalent English laws of the time, and this attention to detail adds another layer to this multi faceted book. Without doubt, this very talented author has found a winning formula, and I imagine that she will very soon have a large following eagerly awaiting the next instalment - with myself at the front of the queue, of course!

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

If this book appeals then you really should read Michaelmas Tribute.

Buy The Sting of Justice (Burren Mysteries) by Cora Harrison at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Sting of Justice (Burren Mysteries) by Cora Harrison at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy The Sting of Justice (Burren Mysteries) by Cora Harrison at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Sting of Justice (Burren Mysteries) by Cora Harrison at Amazon.com.


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