Saturday, May 02, 2015

Ruined Abbey by Anne Emery

Fascinating. Absolutely fascinating. Anne Emery's Ruined Abbey is totally over my head, but it's a  fascinating mystery. Because I haven't read any of the mysteries about the Irish Troubles, or any of Emery's previous Collins-Burke mysteries, I wasn't prepared for the depth of Irish history in Ruined Abbey. But, from what I've seen, interested readers should start with this prequel to the series. It's not only excellent background for the series itself, but also a sound history lesson.

In 1989, Father Brennan Burke takes a leave from his New York City church to fly to Ireland when his sister Molly calls. She's been arrested in London, and is being held in Holloway Prison under suspicion of being part of a terrorist group, the IRA. She's an outspoken historian who had just delivered a defiant pro-Irish speech at a conference about Oliver Cromwell. However, the police seem to think she knows something about the shooting death of a policeman. And, she's certainly not guilty of knowing anything about that.

The family rallies around, as Brennan and his brother, Terry, a pilot, fly to London. Once Molly is released, she tells them what she learned about the death of the policeman, and a plot to plant bombs in Westminster Abbey. Stories of policemen, bombs, and the Irish bring back all their memories of family, particularly their grandfather Christy Burke, an active IRA member who had been imprisoned twice, but died peacefully in his seventies. Even the stories they remember of his funeral are part of family legend. But, the current generation seems to be creating their own legends, and not good ones. Their cousin, Conn, is arrested for the policeman's murder. And, he may have not done it, but Conn knows something.

Ruined Abbey is filled with secrets, Irish history, and storytelling. The Burkes, despite their current involvement in searching for answers to a crime, are storytellers, and once they've had a pint, they can spin tales, some true, some created on the spot. Anne Emery shares the same gift, as she quickly catches a reader's attention. And, it isn't long before the reader is caught up in the lives of Father Brennan Burke and his intriguing family. Just fascinating.

Anne Emery's website is

Ruined Abbey by Anne Emery. ECW Press. 2015. ISBN 9781770411678 (hardcover), 378p.

FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book so that I could review it.


Libby Dodd said...

Sounds fascinating

Reine said...

Cromwell and the Penal Laws... Follow the history of invasion, and it's easy to understand the IRA. Sounds like a good story.

Kaye Barley said...

Adding another to my list, Lesa - Thank You!

Lesa said...

It was "fascinating", Libby.

Lesa said...

Reine, You're so right. As I read this book, I could understand why the IRA came into existence.

Lesa said...

Hugs, Kaye! I think you'll appreciate this one.