Burren on the western seaboard of Ireland was then, in the year of
1509, as it is now, a land of stony fields and swirling mountain
"This richly conceived and authentically detailed series of
historical whodunits..." - Booklist
well-drawn characters, a tantalizing mystery and an intriguing
look at the surprisingly complex and liberal laws of 1509
Ireland." - Kirkus reviews
wonderfully depicted... The historical and geographic setting is
so well written you feel a part of the time." - New
"You’ll enjoy this mystery and learn much about our Irish
heritage." - Irish
"Outstanding" - Publishers Weekly
"a wonderfully appealing character ...an alluring perception of
Ireland – [Cora Harrison is] exceptionally talented at
crafting an intriguing whodunit." - The Truth About Books.com
mystery" - Baltimore Sun, USA
is a terrific read" - American
murder mystery with a strong historical basis" - Editors' Choice, Historical Novel Society
is a terrific debut of a historical series that promises
something completely different" -
Globe and Mail review, Canada
on to a winner"
- Evening Herald, Ireland
"The setting, plot and
characters are beautifully crafted" -
"I relished reading the Sister Fidelma
Mysteries, written by Peter Tremayne. But I believe My
Lady Judge is a more intriguing and better written book.
Tremayne says: “Sister Fidelma would be delighted with her
sleuthing ‘descendant.’” -
Irish American News
Cora Harrison writes
See all reviews...
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Published by Pan Macmillan, May 2008
"Once again, Cora Harrison brings 16th century Ireland
beautifully to life and her Brehon detective, Mara, is a
fantastic protagonist – an absolute one-off and yet refreshingly
real." - Historical Novel Society,
Editors' choice titles
The USA cover of the second Burren Mystery, published as "A Secret and Unlawful Killing" in the USA.
this mystery and learn much about our Irish heritage." -
Irish American News
"Harrison's captivating second mystery... makes for compelling
reading." - Publishers Weekly (PW, USA)
Read more reviews of Michaelmas
Tribute ('A Secret and Unlawful Killing' in
In its Editors' Choice
Titles for August 2009, the Historical Novel Society wrote:
"With her superb attention to detail, Cora Harrison
brings medieval Ireland into vivid life, being equally skilful at
portraying the good, the bad, and the ugly.
"Her research appears impeccable and is always
included using a lightness of touch.
"Mara is up there with the great fictional
"Her formidable intellect is beautifully balanced by
her humanity and ability to empathise even with those she
"She is a creation to be proud of and one assured a long stay
on my bookshelves."
- Historical Novel Society,
Editors' Choice Titles for August 2009
Ellis Peters and Peter Tremayne fans who have yet to discover Harrison will be overjoyed.
- Publishers Weekly starred review
A more clear-headed, sound Judge you couldn’t wish
for and a wonderfully appealing character.
[Cora Harrison] has
created a memorable cast and an alluring perception of Ireland –
and she is also exceptionally talented at crafting a intriguing
whodunit. - The Truth About Books.com
Mara is simply a fabulous protagonist
A whodunit with a proper mystery to unravel
Agatha Christie in 16th century
Ireland - MyShelf.Com
Fans of Peter Tremayne’s Sister Fidelma Ancient Irish
mysteries will want to read this terrific medieval whodunit...
this series is one of the sub-genre’s best - Genre Go Round
Read full reviews
"Christmas, 1510; the Burren, West coast of Ireland.
Mara, Brehon (investigating judge) of the Burren, has accepted the offer
of marriage made by King Turlough Donn O'Brien, ruler of that tiny
kingdom of stony land and terraced mountains on the shores of the
The marriage is planned to take place at the Cistercian Abbey on
Christmas Day. But, on the eve of the marriage festivities, a man
kneeling in prayer beside the tomb of an ancestor in the abbey
church is violently battered to death...
"A very clever whodunit, set in a landscape which is beautifully
evoked... My heart was literally in my mouth... Cora Harrison has
once more excelled" - The Bookbag
"Outstanding... artfully combining an insightful and sympathetic
detective with a fair-play puzzle..." - Publishers weekly
fact that the story takes place in Christmas time makes this book
very suitable as a Christmas gift, either to yourself or to
someone else!" - I Love Galway
Cora Harrison's fifth Burren mystery, Eye of the Law
"Outstanding both for its attention to detail and historical
correctness. Historical mystery fans won’t want to miss this
one." - Library journal
"Set in 1510,
Harrison’s excellent fifth Irish historical (after 2009’s
Writ in Stone) finds series heroine Mara, the brehon
of the kingdom of the Burren who serves both as an
investigating magistrate and law school professor, married to
King Turlough Donn and expecting his child." -
Scales of Retribution
The sixth Burren mystery
Publishers' Weekly writes:
"Few will anticipate the solution.
"Harrison combines meticulous period detail with a crafty puzzle
and a sage, empathetic sleuth."
"The threat of Henry VIII's English army looms over Ireland in Harrison's outstanding sixth historical featuring Mara, "the Brehon" (or judge) for her community of the Burren in the west of Ireland (after 2010's Eye of the Law). With her royal husband, King Turlough Donn, away battling the earl of Kildare in Limerick, Mara survives a difficult pregnancy to deliver a premature but healthy boy. While Mara is still recovering from her ordeal, the unpopular local physician, Malachy, whose estranged 14-year-old daughter, Nuala, assisted in the birth of Mara's son, dies of poisoning. The arrival of a young legal scholar who could handle the inquiry into Malachy's death gives Mara the chance to step back and regain her strength, but she has misgivings about entrusting the peace of her people to a stranger."
Deed of Murder
The Seventh Burren Mystery
"an electrifying climax and a surprising solution to the
crimes" - Historical Novel Society
April 1511, Ireland. Mara, Brehon of the Burren, is
celebrating the christening of her son when she notices that three
of her law students have disappeared from the party.
The next morning, one of them is found dead on a lone mountain
pass with suspicious wounds. He was carrying an important legal
document that has now disappeared. But why did he choose to
deliver it during the night, and what of the two other missing
students? Mara must uncover the truth – and it at first seems that
the stolen deed holds all the
"As usual, Harrison makes combining a whodunit with the
subtleties of Irish law look easy." -
Cora Harrison's eighth Burren mystery, Laws in Conflict
“Harrison, like Peter
Tremayne in his Sister Fidelma series, provides a superior brand
of historical mystery” Booklist
February, 1512. Mara,
Brehon of the Burren, judge and lawgiver, has been invited to the
magnificent city state of Galway, which is ruled by English laws
and a royal charter originally granted by Richard III.
Mara wonders whether she
can use her legal knowledge to save the life of a man from the
Burren who has been caught stealing a meat pie, but events soon
take an even more dramatic turn when the mayor’s son is charged
with a heinous crime. Sure there is more to the case than meets
the eye, Mara investigates...
introduces her impressive knowledge of the period into a
suspenseful plot that also involves murder." - Publishers
"Harrison’s immensely satisfying eighth legal mystery
(after Deed of Murder) is imbued with vibrant details but not
weighed down by them. With several memorable adolescent
characters, both male and female, this historical has notable YA
crossover appeal. For fans of Peter Tremayne." - Library
Cora Harrison's ninth Burren mystery, Chain of Evidence
It had been an early spring in the west of Ireland.
kingdom of the Burren, mild south-westerly winds from the nearby
Atlantic Ocean had put a temporary end to winter frosts by the
middle of January. By the second day of February the sunken lanes
in its valleys had been filled with pale yellow primroses and dark
purple violets. Soon afterwards the willow had begun to quicken
and burst forth into fluffy buds, the pink haze of the tiny herb
robert spread over the ditches and the grass of the fields was
sprinkled with cowslips. An early spring, said the optimists who
began making plans for moving their cows to summer pasture.
by the thirty-first day of March, just as soon as the bare thorny
twigs of hedgerows had become covered with white blossoms, the
traditional saying ‘the little winter of the blackthorn’ had come
true and the air turned icy...
Read Chapter One
Cora Harrison's tenth Burren mystery, Cross of Vengence
"Mara... doesn’t overlook a subtle murder clue in Harrison’s
clever 10th 16th-century historical [novel]...
"One of Harrison’s most intriguing solutions."
"An unusual and beguiling murder mystery set in a
sixteenth-century Ireland that is as lovely, innocent, and
enchanting as Camelot—until murder befouls the setting.
"Mara, the Burren Brehon (maker
of judgments), is wise, patient, fair, and kind, but all of these
qualities are tested when a band of religious pilgrims comes
through the Burren.
"Soon after their arrival, the
Kilnaboy religious relic, which is the Burren’s most important
attraction, is defaced and burned. Then one of the pilgrims is
found murdered, his body spread-eagled and naked in crucifixion
pose behind Kilnaboy Church.
"Determined to find the killer,
Mara is completely puzzled: How did someone kill the pilgrim, who
was a big man, remove his clothes, and haul him to the site where
he was found? Was the killer one of the pilgrims or, more
frightening, someone from the Burren?
written, atmospheric, captivating, and suspenseful, this is a
unique murder mystery that’s sure to appeal to fans of historical
Harrison's eleventh Burren mystery, Verdict of the Court
Net Galley review: "I try very hard to save five
star ratings for books that really make a special impression on
me. This was one of those books. I've read other books in the
series and have always enjoyed them very much, but this one was so
full of suspense and tension that it catapulted onto a different
"Mara, Brehon of the Burren, is a female judge in a specific
geographic region of Ireland with this story taking place in 1519
and into 1520. Mara is a 46 year old woman who runs a Law School
in one of the three kingdoms ruled by her husband, King Turlough
Donn O'Brien. Even though she and Turlough live apart most of the
time they have had a warm and loving relationship in their ten
year marriage and have one son, Cormac. Mara and her students are
going to Bunratty Castle to spend Christmas with Turlough and
others gathered at the castle to celebrate the season as well as
the twentieth anniversary of his reign as the king of the three
"This novel had a plot which was so well constructed that I
never guessed where the author was leading. The mystery involved
would have been entertaining enough by itself, but when the
additional plot element was introduced it signalled a change in
the whole dynamic of relationships long established and hints at
new possibilities for future novels.
"Needless to say, this author has added material which will
enable her to continue to develop this series over a long period
of time. Definitely an absorbing reading experience and highly
recommended for readers who enjoy historical mysteries."
Harrison's twelfth Burren mystery, Condemned to Death
Publishers Weekly review: Harrison has never been better than in her 12th historical starring Irish investigating magistrate and law school dean Mara (after 2014’s Verdict of the Court).
Under Irish law in the 16th century, murdering a close relative is punished by setting the guilty party out to sea in a boat without oars. When a boat without oars containing the body of an unidentified man drifts onto the shore of the Kingdom of the Burren, the locals assume that the dead man must have been a kin-slayer.
Mara’s oldest scholar, Domhnall, later tells her that he thinks he recognizes the corpse as that of a goldsmith from Galway, a city farther up the Atlantic coast that’s governed by English law, which punishes kin-slayers by hanging. Mara concludes that someone murdered the goldsmith and hoped to disguise the cause of death.
As Mara’s sleuthing leads her to a clever and disturbing solution, Harrison seamlessly integrates law and social history (e.g., Mara notes that the emergence of the merchant profession obligates setting a legal penalty for killing one).
Net Galley members reviews: “Edgy and gritty with a lush and beautiful historic setting. Magnificent!”
"This is an interesting and intriguing mystery with a background which reminded me of Peter Tremayne's Sister Fidelma mysteries though set nearly a thousand years later than that series. Mara herself is an interesting character and clearly shows that in some civilisations and eras women could become powerful and were given the same educational opportunities as men.
"If you want to read mystery stories set before forensic science had started to develop when investigators had to rely on keen observation and a knowledge of human nature then this series might be one for you
"I adore the Burren mysteries and have read every single one but this one was surprising in its ending… this wonderful and truly historically correct in every way series will be continuing. I checked all these places out recently in Ireland. Spent part of a day at Bunratty Castle Verdict of the Court was set and chattered on about Turlough. It is imperative that you start this series if you like Irish, Medieval or Historical Mysteries, or just a great read."
"Another wonderful story. Mara is one of my favorite book characters."
"Cora Harrison always does such a wonderful job of placing me right in the time period of these novels, the sixteenth century… All of this carried out by a woman whose word was considered as binding and had to be obeyed as if the instructions had been spoken by the king. These novels are always an interesting learning experience to see how advanced the culture was regarding the appreciation of the capabilities of women."
Harrison's thirteenth Burren mystery, A Fatal Inheritance
HISTORICAL NOVELS SOCIETY
"A terrific read"
"To say that Clodagh O’Lochlainn wasn’t well-liked is an understatement. After her strangled body is found roped to a stone pillar in the valley of Oughtdara in southwestern Ireland, the list of suspects grows longer by the day. Her husband Aengus, a gentle shepherd, had endured her foul mouth and shameful taunts for a good forty years. A short time earlier, Clodagh had won – maybe by cheating – a legal case against her four male cousins, which gave her the rights to her late father’s lands. Or maybe the Fár Briege had killed her, the ancient stone god himself. To many villagers, this is entirely possible, for belief in the Tuatha Dé still runs strong in the year 1523. Tasked with rooting out the murderer is Mara, Brehon of the kingdom of Burren, the same judge who’d recently awarded the verdict in Clodagh’s favor.
"Mara makes for an ideal yet unique detective. She knows everyone, and her forthright manner tolerates no nonsense, but she’s also wise enough to let the pupils in her law school share their opinions. These include her near-adult grandson and her young son, one of whom shows strong aptitude in law, while the other merely goes through the paces. Caring and observant, Mara spends considerable time pondering her family’s future, and that of her friends.
"As new leads emerge in this complex mystery, her investigations take her all over the countryside, interviewing both rich and poor. The novel is set almost wholly outdoors, and although late March brings gusts and rain, the land is a vision of stark beauty, with great swaths of rock interspersed with tufts of green, and heavy mists occasionally obscuring the nearby mountains, sky, and ocean. The Irish legal system is fascinating to learn about, too. This is a terrific read for anyone wanting immersion in another time and place."
Two Net Galley Five Star Reviews:
"...To weave a satisfactory mystery in with the history of the O'Davoren clan of law scholars and the O'Briens of Thomand, Corcomroe and the Burren is masterful indeed. I recommend you start at the beginning of this fine series. Cora Harrison's historical detail and her perspective on the period never fails and the characters are vivid and memorable."
"...Mara is indeed a woman to be admired. Her mind is swift. She is reflective and powerful in her understandings, yet always lovingly heeding the situations of the people involved... Another engrossing novel set in the late Middle Ages in Ireland, reflecting a rich heritage of law and Justice attuned to the peoples of the land, a sophisticated and often compassionate system to be admired, more communal than adversarial."
Harrison's fourteenth Burren mystery, An Unjust Judge
Booklist Review‘OUTSTANDING IN ITS GENRE’
"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."