"Being Irish, he had an abiding sense of tragedy, which sustained him through temporary periods of joy." The quote from William Butler Yeats describes Belfast McGrath's life. Maggie McConnon digs deeper into Bel's pain in the second book in the mystery series, Bel of the Brawl.
Soon after high school graduation and the disappearance of her best friend, Amy Mitchell, Bel fled from Foster's Landing. She came back fifteen years later, returning to Shamrock Manor as chef for her parents' catering hall. But, it's a small community, and Bel and some of the town still suffer from Amy's loss. When the police find clothes and items that belonged to her, Bel's once again ready to believe she's dead.
But, that's not the only death she has to deal with. The family and staff is still reeling from a death at the Manor when they cater a wedding for the Casey family. It's just Bel's bad luck to find the groom dying in the ladies' room. What more can go wrong? How about the disappearance of the ten thousand dollar tip the bride's father gave to Bel's father? And, what happened to the missing waitress?
There's humor in Maggie McConnon's Belfast McGrath mysteries, provided by her family. Her mother teaches Pilates and disapproves of Bel's fancy menus. Her father is an artist. Then there are her four older brothers who have side jobs as the house band at Shamrock Manor. There's "Dad's bluster and Mom's tough-girl routine and my brothers inability to find their collective way out of a paper bag". Then, there's Bel, who enjoys playing investigator, a change from her life as a chef.
Belfast McGrath, who still regrets the last words she said to her best friend. She left home, fleeing her memories, only to deal with them on a day-to-day basis when she returns. It's not easy being "the best friend", as a journalist says, of a young woman who disappeared. It's a tragedy that continues to linger over Foster's Landing, and Bel's life. Even as she searches for the truth behind the latest death at Shamrock Manor, she dreads the truth about Amy Mitchell.
Bel of the Brawl is the second mystery set at a wedding and catering hall. Despite the Irish reels, the food, the dancing, and Maggie McConnon's well-drawn characters, this series has dark secrets.
Maggie McConnon's (Maggie Barbieri) website is www.maggiebarbieri.com
Bel of the Brawl by Maggie McConnon. St. Martin's. 2017. ISBN 9781250077295 (paperback), 320p.
FTC Full disclosure - I received the book to review for a blog tour.