Tuesday, October 10, 2017

A Hunt in Winter by Conor Brady

I loved Conor Brady's new Joe Swallow mystery, A Hunt in Winter. It's the third in the series, and you don't have to read the earlier ones. But, I wish I had. So, I have one suggestion and one cautionary note. The suggestion? Start with A June of Ordinary Murders. The cautionary note? You'll enjoy these books even more if you have some background or knowledge of Irish history.

When a young waitress is attacked and brutally beaten in 1888, the residents of Dublin talk of Jack the Ripper. Detective Inspector Joe Swallow doesn't believe that the killer changed his methods and traveled to Ireland. But, the G-Division from Dublin Castle turn out in force to investigate. There are no witnesses, few clues, and then another young woman is attacked as she finishes her work day. Swallow and the other men hunt down every possible suspect and story. But, political concerns get in the way of their investigation.

In 1888, the English are investigating Charles Parnell, the Irish politician leading the campaign for Irish Home Rule. When they turn up at Dublin Castle, searching for evidence against him, Swallow and his boss are dismayed. In their opinion, Parnell is the only thing standing between Ireland and an uprising against the English. And, the G-Division is unwilling to help the English tear apart the country.

Politics isn't Swallow's only distraction. His personal life has been comfortable. He has a quiet arrangement with his landlady, who owns a public house. He takes painting lessons every Thursday. But, even Swallow's personal life is about to change.

Politics, social and cultural issues, as well as murder all come together in this fascinating mystery. Joe Swallow and the men of G-Division are excellent policemen, although they're not always popular with the Irish themselves, as they enforce English laws. But, that's part of the history of the times. Conor Brady skillfully includes actual characters and history in this well-written, atmospheric story. Those who love mysteries steeped in history may want to try A Hunt in Winter. (I still suggest you start with A June of Ordinary Murders.)

A Hunt in Winter by Conor Brady. Crooked Lane Books. 2017. ISBN 9781683313953 (hardcover), 336p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - I received the book to review for a journal.

1 comment:

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