An Unjust Judge

Burren Mystery series by Cora Harrison

It was a macabre ending for an unjust judge: his throat slit by a sharp knife; his body stuffed into a lobster pot and left beneath a powerful jet of water shooting up through the cliffs from the turbulent Atlantic.

When Mara, Brehon of the nearby kingdom of the Burren, comes to investigate, she knows that her first suspects have to be the five young men who had received such savage sentences for minor crimes.

But there are others in the frame: the nephew of the former Brehon, a man with the power of the Tudor court behind him. The child bride who hated her husband. The ill-treated apprentice.

And who was it who was seen on that moonlit night by the confused and elderly Fergus Mac Clancy?

Booklist Review


"Mara, Brehon of the Burren, a sixteenth-century Irish kingdom, investigates the vicious murder of a novice judge from a neighboring kingdom, who meted out exceptionally harsh punishments for minor crimes his first and only day on the job.

"Though her initial suspects are the five men who received unjust sentences from Gaibrial O’Doran, she quickly realizes that there are a slew of others with probable cause, including O’Doran’s young wife, an abused apprentice, and another would-be Brehon.

"The heinous nature of the murder suggests either a crime of passion or one of unflagging ambition, and motives abound.

"Mara, aging gracefully, has lost none of her investigative ability or her sharp powers of investigation. The narrative twists and turns until the end, showcasing both Harrison’s clever plotting and the historical chops as she continues her outstanding Burren Mystery series, following A Fatal Inheritance (2016).

"Like Peter Tremayne in his Sister Fidelma series, Harrison illuminates the remarkably enlightened legal system of medieval Ireland."

Historcal Society Review

"This is the fourteenth Burren mystery, set in western Ireland during the reign of Henry VIII. It features as sleuth Mara, the Brehon of the Burren. Now in late middle age, Mara continues to serve as a judge dispensing justice under Brehonic law and also solving mysteries. A new judge metes out unduly harsh sentences to five miscreants and is then found gruesomely and creatively murdered. Naturally the five offenders are suspects, as is a very young widow, and others who have motives. Mara must investigate the crime, although it has taken place outside her usual jurisdiction.

"As she sifts through too many suspects, the reader may discover the murderer early on, but Harrison is an expert at laying false trails, and the true resolution isn’t revealed until the end of the book. There is a really dramatic seacoast scene that will leave readers reluctant to dip a toe in the Atlantic ever again. As usual with this series, the scenic Burren and adjacent areas are characters in themselves. The story stands alone, but readers may want to obtain earlier titles to follow the characters’ back stories."