Categories
Reverend Mother series

Murder in the Cathedral 

by Cora Harrison

The Reverend Mother’s investigative skills are called into action again when one of her young pupils is found murdered at St Fin Barre’s Cathedral.

1920s. Cork, Ireland. The Reverend Mother’s Christmas Day festivities are shattered when the protestant bishop of Cork arrives at the convent with terrible news: one of the Reverend Mother’s pupils, the troublesome seven-year-old Edna O’Sullivan, has been found murdered in St Fin Barre’s Cathedral. Furthermore, the cathedral’s archdeacon, Dr Hearn, is also dead after succumbing to a suspected heart attack in the middle of a service.

When it is revealed that both Edna and the archdeacon were poisoned, the Reverend Mother is drawn into another puzzling mystery. Was the boy used as part of an elaborate plot to murder the archdeacon? And if so, why was he willing to risk his life to do so? As she investigates, the Reverend Mother makes a series of disturbing and intriguing discoveries. Can she uncover the truth behind these heinous crimes?


Review from Publishers Weekly

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“Set in the late 1920s, Harrison’s outstanding ninth whodunit featuring the Reverend Mother Aquinas (after 2021’s Murder in an Orchard Cemetery) opens with an unexpected visit from Dr. Thompson, the bishop of Cork’s Anglican Church of Ireland.

“Thompson reports that one of the Reverend Mother’s pupils, seven-year-old Enda O’Sullivan, has died. Someone poisoned the communion wine at the Protestant cathedral with cyanide, killing its archdeacon, Dr. Hearn.

“According to the bishop, the Reverend Mother’s ally on the force, Insp. Patrick Cashman, believes that the murderer bribed Enda to put the cyanide in the archdeacon’s cup by giving the boy some chocolates injected with the poison to cover up his crime.

“Given Hearn’s wide unpopularity, the Reverend Mother and the inspector have plenty of suspects to consider in their probe.

“Harrison does a masterly job combining plot and characterization and resolves the puzzle satisfactorily, but the book’s real strength is her heartfelt evocation of the lives of Cork’s impoverished citizens and the Reverend Mother’s dedication to helping them.

“This series ranks near the top among mysteries with a religious lead.”

– Publishers Weekly

Categories
Spring of Hope

Booklist review of Spring of Hope

Cleverly plotted, deftly written, with vivid characters, rich period ambience, and gentle humor, Harrison’s latest is sure to please fans of historical mysteries.

Booklist

Harrison again pairs Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins as amateur sleuths (following Summer of Secrets, 2021).

London is recovering from the 1858 “Summer of the Great Stink,” which has resulted from human waste flowing into the Thames. The government is determined to find a solution, with the pollution growing deadlier with each passing month.

A prize is established for the scientist who can solve the problem, and the competition is fierce. Collins is heading home one night when he hears a woman’s screams coming from a nearby house.

Without thinking, he breaks into the house and rescues the woman and her little girl. When he learns their lives are in danger, he takes them to his home to keep them safe. The woman is terrified but refuses to tell Collins why.

It’s only after a terrible accident at a demonstration of one scientist’s plan to stop the stink that Collins and Dickens begin to comprehend the truth behind the byzantine story.

Cleverly plotted, deftly written, with vivid characters, rich period ambience, and gentle humor, Harrison’s latest is sure to please fans of historical mysteries.

— Emily Melton

Booklist

The Gaslight Mysteries

Categories
Spring of Hope The Gaslight Mysteries

Spring of Hope – Kirkus Reviews

A period mystery bolstered by an exciting mix of imagination and historical truth

Another case for those eminent Victorian sleuths Wilkie Collins and Charles Dickens, last seen in Summer of Secrets (2021).

Spring 1859 finds a group of engineers striving to solve the problems of the previous summer, when the River Thames was so overwhelmed with effluent from London that thousands died of cholera and Members of Parliament had to hold their noses as they met.

The queen is offering a cash prize and knighthood to the person who can solve the problem, and Dickens, who’s befriended young engineer Joseph Bazalgette, is eager to help. Collins creates his own mystery when a woman’s fearful screams move him to rescue her and her child from a locked house.

He’s delighted when Caroline, an excellent cook, and her pretty and intelligent daughter, now called Carrie, move into his home, and he soon starts spoiling Carrie, even taking her with him on expeditions to view the engineers’ varied plans to solve the sewage problem.

When he hosts a dinner party for men interested in the problem, Caroline, still terrified of her mysterious former captor, overhears a voice that sends her into a frenzy of fear.

A shocking, seemingly accidental death during a demonstration at Bazalgette’s workshop sends Collins and Dickens on a hunt for a killer even though Collins secretly fears that Carrie may be involved.

A period mystery bolstered by an exciting mix of imagination and historical truth.

Categories
The Gaslight Mysteries Spring of Hope

Spring of Hope starred review by Publishers’ Weekly

Victorian whodunits don’t get much better than this.

The prologue of Harrison’s superior fourth Gaslight mystery teaming novelists Wilkie Collins and Charles Dickens (after 2021’s Summer of Secrets), a melancholy letter written by Collins on his deathbed in 1889, sets the stage for flashbacks to 1859.

In the wake of the Great Stink of 1858, during which an overwhelmed London sewer system combined with a heat wave to create a persistent foul odour in the metropolis, civil engineer Joseph Bazalgette, a friend of Dickens, is tasked with addressing the problem.

But murder interferes, as Collins relates in his letter. During an exhibition of Bazalgette’s proposed solution at a gathering attended by notables who include MP Benjamin Disraeli, a man, unidentified in the prologue, is killed in an explosion that sends metal fragments flying.

Collins and Dickens, present at the gathering, come to believe the death was no accident and partner up to seek a murderer.

Amid clever plot twists, Harrison maintains suspense as the action builds up to the fatal explosion, leaving readers in suspense as to who is killed and why.

Collins and Dickens subsequently investigate.

Victorian whodunits don’t get much better than this. 

Publishers’ Weekly

Categories
Reverend Mother series

Murder In An Orchard Cemetery

1920s. Cork, Ireland. The Reverend Mother is not best pleased at the bishop’s decision to invite the five candidates for the position of Alderman of the City Council to join them for their annual retreat. Constantly accosted by ambitious, would-be politicians hoping to secure the bishop’s backing, she’s finding the week-long sojourn at the convent of the Sisters of Charity anything but peaceful. What she doesn’t expect to encounter is sudden, violent death.

When a body is discovered in the convent’s apple orchard cemetery, blown to pieces by a makeshift bomb, it is assumed the IRA is responsible. But does the killer lie closer to home? Was one of the candidates so desperate to win the election they turned to murder? Does someone have a hidden agenda? Once again, the Reverend Mother must call on her unrivalled investigative skills to unearth the shocking truth.


Reviews from:

Categories
Reverend Mother series

Death of a Prominent Citizen

The seventh book in the Reverend Mother Mystery series
A novel by Cora Harrison

This puzzle mystery is a sheer delight

I have read the six previous installments in this series and, from the outset, I must say that this is my favorite yet—the Reverend Mother plays Clue with her family!

Harrison’s seventh Reverend Mother whodunit stands out as her trickiest yet… Fans of historical puzzle mysteries will be delighted” – Publishers Weekly Starred Review

Money is the root of all evil, according to the Reverend Mother – but is it the motive for her cousin’s murder?

Wealthy widow Charlotte Hendrick had always promised that her riches would be divided equally between her seven closest relatives when she died. Now she has changed her mind and summoned her nearest and dearest, including her cousin, the Reverend Mother, to her substantial home on Bachelor’s Quay to inform them of her decision. As Mrs Hendrick’s relatives desperately make their case to retain a share of her wealth, riots break out on the quays outside as the flood waters rise …

The following morning, a body is discovered in the master bedroom, its throat cut. Could there be a connection to the riots of the night before – or does the killer lie closer to home? In her efforts to uncover the truth, the Reverend Mother unearths a tale of greed, cruelty, forbidden passion … and cold-blooded malice.

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Categories
Reverend Mother series

Murder at the Queen’s Old Castle

Book six in the Reverend Mother series

Sparkling descriptions of life in 1920s Cork and fascinating historical details combine to ably support a clever plot and an intriguing cast — Booklist

A rare shopping trip for the Reverend Mother ends in brutal murder in this absorbing historical mystery.

Despite its regal name, the Queen’s Old Castle is nothing but a low-grade department store, housed within the decrepit walls of what was once a medieval castle, built at the harbour entrance to Cork city. On her first visit for fifty years, the Reverend Mother is struck by how little has changed – apart, that is, from the strange smell of gas … But when the store’s owner staggers from his office and topples over the railings to his death, Mother Aquinas is once again drawn into a baffling murder investigation where suspects are all too plentiful.

An unpopular man, Joseph Fitzwilliam had been disliked and feared by all who worked for him. And when the contents of his will are revealed, suspicion widens to include his own family.

“Harrison is at the top of her game… the fair-play puzzle is among her finest”Publishers Weekly Starred Review

“Sparkling descriptions of life in 1920’s Cork and fascinating historical details combine to ably support a clever plot and an intriguing cast”Booklist

“This highly readable historical series is perfect for fans of authors who focus on a vivid locale such as Andrea Camilleri and Ann Cleeves”Library Journal

Categories
Reverend Mother series

Death of a Novice

The fifth book in the Reverend Mother Mystery series
A novel by Cora Harrison

The sudden death of a young novice nun raises a series of puzzling questions in the latest Reverend Mother historical mystery.

The Reverend Mother is delighted with her new entrant to the convent. Young Sister Gertrude is well-educated, has worked for an accountant and has an appealing sense of humour. But one autumn morning, Sister Gertrude is found dead inside a small wooden shed, just beside the river. Surely a young nun could not die from alcohol poisoning?

But when the Reverend Mother delves more deeply into Sister Gertrude’s background, she finds some puzzling anomalies. Why did the young nun not delay her entry to the convent until after her sister’s wedding? Is it a coincidence that her father died of a similar illness not long before? And could there be a link between Sister Gertrude’s death and the gunpowder explosion on Spike Island? The Reverend Mother must find the answers to these questions if she is to safeguard her community from suspicions of murder. 

“An admirable heroine, vivid characters, and an inventive plot, combined with intriguing insights into life in Ireland at a crucial juncture for the Troubles, make for a captivating read”Booklist

“Harrison’s fifth engrossing historical mystery brings to life the turbulence and politics of 1920s Ireland. Reverend Mother will appeal to admirers of Ellis Peter’s ‘Brother Cadfael’ mysteries, while Conor Brady’s fans will appreciate the Irish history”Library Journal Starred Review

Categories
Reverend Mother series

A Gruesome Discovery

The fourth book in the Reverend Mother Mystery series
A novel by Cora Harrison


“The competent and exacting detective’s contacts and knowledge of Cork again help her solve a difficult mystery in fine fashion.” – Kirkus

Kirkus writes:

In 1925 Cork, Ireland, a horrifying find in an old trunk leads an unlikely sleuth to further discoveries scarcely less shocking.

A smelly trunk arrives from the auction house of Mr. Hayes, a gift to the school from the Reverend Mother’s cousin Lucy. Instead of the expected old school books, it contains the dead body of Mr. Mulcahy, a wealthy tanner, packed with a bunch of decomposing skins.

Mulcahy’s son Fred arrives on the scene just after the Reverend Mother opens the trunk; he was evidently expecting a different trunk, with a shipment of guns for the Irish Republican Army.

Although he’s appalled to see his dead father, he’s so far from mourning the loss that he shoots the body through the heart before taking off.

The Reverend Mother calls Inspector Patrick Cashman, a former pupil whom she and medical examiner Dr. Scher have helped before (A Shocking Assassination, 2016, etc.).

Poor, clever Eileen, another former pupil, who works for a printer and is also involved with the Republicans, snatches Fred away from the police on her motorbike and barely escapes trouble herself when Fred tries to flee on a fishing trawler.

The Reverend Mother meanwhile fills Patrick in on the Mulcahy family, a large group with a long-suffering wife and mother, who were just moving into a brand new house, selling the old one, and moving the tanning yard when Mulcahy was killed.

The oldest daughter, Susan, wanted to become a doctor, but her father was determined to marry her instead to his business acquaintance Richard McCarthy, the executor of his will, who claims that they’ll need to sell the new house to support the family. Susan, who helped keep the books, is certain there’s plenty of money.

With help from Eileen, she sets out to prove that McCarthy and a new lawyer are hiding it.

There are so many suspects, from Mulcahy’s family members to his business enemies, that the sleuths can only pray that following the money will lead to the killer.

The competent and exacting detective’s contacts and knowledge of Cork again help her solve a difficult mystery in fine fashion.

“A gripping plot, memorable characters, and authentic period ambience make for an engaging read”Booklist

“Harrison does a fine job mixing the explosive politics of 1920’s Ireland with details of ordinary life”Publishers Weekly

Categories
Reverend Mother series

Beyond Absolution

The third book in the Reverend Mother Mystery series
A novel by Cora Harrison

Reverend Mother Aquinas must discover who murdered a much-loved priest in the third of this compelling new Irish historical mystery series.

Ireland. 1925. Pierced through to the brain, the dead body of the priest was found wedged into the small, dark confessional cubicle. Loved by all, Father Dominic had lent a listening ear to sinners of all kinds: gunmen and policemen; prostitutes and nuns; prosperous businessmen and petty swindlers; tradesmen and thieves. But who knelt behind the metal grid and inserted a deadly weapon into that listening ear?

The Reverend Mother Aquinas can do nothing for Father Dominic, but for the sake of his brother, her old friend Father Lawrence, she is determined to find out who killed him, and why.

Fine historical ambience, well-drawn characters, a twist-filled plot, and a surprising conclusion make this one a good choice for all crime collections“–Booklist

Harrison cleverly integrates classic whodunit detection with the tense politics of the period, as Irish nationalists continue to struggle for independence“–Publishers Weekly Starred Review