The Deadly Weed

Severn House. (A Reverend Mother Mystery, Bk. 10). Mar. 2023. 240p. ISBN 9781448309825. $30.99. M
When Reverend Mother Aquinas’s second cousin Mr. Robert Murphy opens a cigarette factory close to the convent in Cork, Ireland, she’s eager to find jobs for some of her needy students. She asks him to consider hiring some of her older girls to roll cigarettes, and she’s pleased when he hires all 10 of her 14-year-old girls. He even agrees to build a privy for them. When the privy catches fire and a man inside dies of smoke inhalation, the fire brigade calls it arson. One of Reverend Mother’s former students, Inspector Patrick Cashman, investigates and has to throw one of the girls, Maureen McCarthy, into jail. Maureen was known to spend evenings with the dead man, and she spits at the police superintendent when she’s brought in for questioning. Although Reverend Mother has acquaintances all over Cork, the surprising solution to the murder investigation is closer to home.
VERDICT Harrison’s 10th “Reverend Mother” mystery (following Murder in the Cathedral) is repetitive, and the details about Sir Walter Raleigh, tobacco, and Ireland tend to overshadow the mystery, making it almost secondary. Will appeal only to readers of the long-running series or historical-mystery buffs.
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