Murder in an Orchard Cemetery

Severn House. (Reverend Mother, Bk. 8). Sept. 2021. 240p. ISBN 9780727890405. $28.99. M
Reverend Mother Aquinas usually anticipates the annual retreat for the religious superiors of the schools of Cork, Ireland. This year, though, the bishop has rescinded the retreat’s usual seven-day order of complete silence and has invited five candidates for alderman to meet the group. While the alderman candidates are currying favor with the bishop and the heads of the various schools, the Reverend Mother seeks escape from the politics. She finds peace in the convent’s cemetery orchard until the bishop turns her favorite bench over to his selected alderman candidate. When a bomb explodes and kills the candidate, everyone immediately suspects the IRA. In this mystery’s mid-1920s Cork (a fiercely Republican city), that’s a logical conclusion. But the Reverend Mother and two of her former students don’t believe the IRA is involved. Inspector Patrick Cashman of the Garda carefully interviews politicians and the gathered clergy, while journalist Eileen (an active IRA member at one time) reports on the story; her sources tell her to look elsewhere. The Reverend Mother ultimately uncovers the answer, with the wisdom of her years, her knowledge of the social system of Cork, and inside information from her wealthy cousin.
VERDICT Harrison follows Death of a Prominent Citizen with another leisurely paced mystery with roots in the history and culture of Cork. It’s a treat for Irish history buffs who follow the series.
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