Death in Dublin: A Novel of Suspense

Death in Dublin: A Novel of Suspense

by Bartholomew Gill

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The theft of the Book of Kells — an exquisite ninth-century amalgam of Christian doctrine and Celtic legend — from the Trinity College library is, in itself, a most shocking crime. But it is the brutal slaying of a night watchman that throws Peter McGarr of the Dublin Murder Squad into the mix. Forced to share investigative duties equally with a publicity


The theft of the Book of Kells — an exquisite ninth-century amalgam of Christian doctrine and Celtic legend — from the Trinity College library is, in itself, a most shocking crime. But it is the brutal slaying of a night watchman that throws Peter McGarr of the Dublin Murder Squad into the mix. Forced to share investigative duties equally with a publicity-hungry co-Chief Superintendent, McGarr is soon entangled in a twisted web of murder, thievery, back-biting politics, and dark pagan rituals. And surely more blood will flow as secrets, deceptions, and well-guarded lies come to light — forcing an intrepid detective to doubt the loyalties of even his closest compatriots — in a chilling case that threatens to bring about nothing less than the destruction of contemporary Irish society.

Editorial Reviews

Washington Post Book World
“Bartholomew Gill writes with literary grace. [His] dialogue sings with an Irish lilt.”
Booklist (starred review)
“This is a spectacularly suspenseful book...a wonderful exploration of Irish culture. Gill’s last case is a masterpiece.”
Kansas City Star
“Gill never fails to deliver.”
Associated Press
“Will knock your socks off...[Gill] is at the top of his always impressive form.”
Providence Sunday Journal
“His mysteries are so very good.”
Chicago Tribune
“Splendidly sharp and entertaining.”
Houston Chronicle
“Evocative...literate and unsentimental...pure pleasure.”
Wisconsin State Journal
“A must read.”
"This is a spectacularly suspenseful book...a wonderful exploration of Irish culture. Gill’s last case is a masterpiece."
Associated Press Staff
“Will knock your socks off...[Gill] is at the top of his always impressive form.”
The Barnes & Noble Review
Bartholomew Gill's Peter McGarr mystery is as full of twists and turns as a Celtic knotwork border from the priceless Book of Kells that's stolen in its first chapter.

Investigating a theft, even of such a valuable cultural treasure, normally wouldn't be assigned to Chief Superintendent Peter McGarr of Dublin's Garda Soichana. But the brutal execution of a security guard at the crime scene soon brings in McGarr's elite Murder Squad. As McGarr investigates what seems to be an inside job, political and criminal complications quickly build to a dangerous height. The negative publicity surrounding the case adversely affects McGarr's beloved daughter. A zealous political group calling itself the New Druids (supposedly dedicated to returning Ireland to paganism) makes a ransom demand for the stolen treasure. And, most bizarrely, an old enemy offers McGarr help that cannot be refused. There's no denying that wealthy publisher and unscrupulous power-broker Chazz Sweeney's resources could be invaluable in the investigation. No one can imagine why the man who sued the Garda after being acquitted of the murder of McGarr's wife would want to ally himself with the detective now…. As McGarr tries to figure out what's the real crime, and what's the cover, the suspects multiply and the danger grows. And McGarr comes to realize that someone has gone to great lengths to embroil him in a case that could finish him…in more ways than one.

Sadly, with the death of Bartholomew Gill in the summer of 2002, this is the last Peter McGarr novel. But mystery fans will be pleased to hear that Avon will also be republishing the earlier books in this Edgar Award–nominated series. Sue Stone

Publishers Weekly
The eighth and sadly the last in Gill's Peter McGarr series (the author died last summer) is a complicated and gloomy foray into Ireland's relentlessly tragic political and social landscape. Unidentified criminals, striking at the heart of Irish culture and tradition, kill a security guard and abscond from Trinity College with the revered Book of Kells, for which they demand a huge ransom. McGarr, "chief superintendent of the Serious Crimes Unit of the Garda Siochana," takes on the case. Corrupt higher-ups in the Garda dismiss McGarr when he treads on sensitive ground, but guilty feelings stemming from the unsolved murders of his wife and father-in-law drive him onward. At times hard to follow, this deeply depressing story builds to a gripping, carnage-filled climax. (Jan.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Gill's final novel pits Police Chief Peter McGarr against a thief and murderer: a night watchman at Dublin's Trinity College has been killed and the irreplaceable Book of Kells stolen. McGarr suspects an infamous and most dangerous band of IRA zealots. Excellent work from a tried-and-true hand. Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The last McGarr from Gill, who died this past summer, traces Ireland’s religious woes back to tussles between Christians and Druids, then moves forward to antagonism between Catholics and Protestants and the resentment of conservatives over the admission of so many students to Dublin’s Trinity College, whose library is the repository of the four-volume Book of Kells. When two of the illuminated manuscripts are stolen and a security guard killed, Peter McGarr, chief superintendent of the Garda Siochana’s Serious Crimes Unit, is upstaged by Chief Superintendent Jack Sheard, who gets himself appointed head of the investigation. Dodging Sheard and ubiquitous tabloid reporter Orla Bannon, McGarr and disgraced former Garda officers Ward and Bresnahan focus on Dr. Pape, Trinity’s head librarian, and his Oxycontin habit; Chazz Sweeney, stalwart of the archconservative sect Opus Dei; and a pair of father-and-son goons who may have taped the ransom demand of £50 million. Recent widower McGarr is attracted to rare-book archivist Kara Kennedy, but her past is shrouded in mystery—and, like Sheard, she may be setting up McGarr as scapegoat. Working through the raging religious controversies of warring sects, McGarr ignores his politically motivated dismissal from the case, zeroes in on the money trail, and survives a rocket launcher, a Glock or two, and greedy zealots to return the Book of Kells. A superb exposition of Ireland’s religious development and a touching look into McGarr’s heart. The death of Gill (The Death of an Irish Sinner, 2001, etc.) deprives the mystery world of one of its most sensitive and talented practitioners.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Peter McGarr Series, #17
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.92(d)

Read an Excerpt

Death in Dublin
A Peter McGarr Mystery

Chapter One

Peter McGarr stepped out of the laneway into Dame Street, at the end of which stood the granite eminence of Trinity College about a quarter mile distant.

It was early morning -- half 8:00 -- and the street was thronged with automobile commuters creeping to work. Cars rolled on a few paces, stopped, and their drivers looked away blankly, used to delay. Faces of passengers in double-deck buses, through windows streaked with urban grime, were careworn and bored.

A solitary articulated lorry appeared lost amid the clamor, its wide headlamps searching for a street that might lead to a highway and freedom.

Like Trinity itself, where McGarr was headed, the early traffic on Dame Street was a given of his day, something he seldom noticed.

But since the murder of his wife, Noreen, more than two years earlier, McGarr had gone from being an acute observer of the city to being necessarily blind to its changes and nuances. Save those, of course, that concerned his family, who had been reduced to his daughter, Maddie, and his mother-in-law, Nuala. She now cared for the child while he worked.

Trinity, which he was now approaching, was a case in point, he realized. Back when he'd been a student, the bastion of Protestantism and privilege had been declared off limits to Catholics by the bishop of Dublin. Of course, as the seventh of nine children of a Guinness brewery worker, it was no place he could have had hopes of attending, anyhow.

And yet in his own way, McGarr had coveted Trinity's complex of mainly Georgian and Victorian buildings that walled off traffic andnoise and provided a quiet haven of wide lawns, cobbled footpaths, and civility in the heart of the city. It was a gem of a place, a kind of urban diadem. But for the nearly twenty years of his marriage, he had associated the college with Noreen, who had studied there.

The arched entranceway was crowded with returning students, and across a wide courtyard, he could see uniformed police cordoning off the Old Library. In front of the barrier stood press and television crews -- details that he'd sooner forget, if he could.

But Peter McGarr was chief superintendent of the Serious Crimes Unit of the Garda Siochana, the Irish police, and since the tragedy, his work had become the sole sustaining element in his life, the one constant activity that helped him forget.

Also, there was the chance -- however slight -- that he might discover who exactly had murdered his people. And why.

At the corner of the Old Library, McGarr paused for a few tugs on a cigarette before running the gauntlet in front of the police line, even though he'd promised his daughter he'd quit.

More guilt. How could he have failed to recognize the danger that his occupation posed to his family? How could he have allowed the tragedy to occur?

Feeling as he did most waking hours -- that his life was effectively over in his fifty-fifth year -- McGarr dropped the butt into a storm drain and stepped toward the reporters.

A somewhat short man with gray eyes and an aquiline nose bent slightly to one side, he still presented a rather formidable appearance with wide, well-muscled shoulders and little paunch.

Courtesy of Nuala, who had taken charge of his appearance, he was well turned out in a heather-colored tweed overcoat, razor creases in his tan trousers and cordovan half-cut boots polished to a high gloss.

"You've got to get a grip on yourself and get on with life, Peter," she had told him going out the door. "If only for Maddie. And forget the bastards what done it. They're a sly and craven lot, not at all like your common run of criminal, and more than a few, I'm thinking. And if they thought you were onto them ... "

Unless, of course, they didn't know he was before he struck. The niceties of the law being dispensed with. Revenge was what McGarr sought, not justice.

As he waded through the clutch of reporters, whose questions McGarr fended off with his eyes, all that hinted at his inner turmoil was a certain drawn look and his deep red hair that tufted out under the brim of his fedora. He'd been too distracted for barbers.

While waiting for the door to the gift shop to be unlocked, McGarr glanced up at a sky freighted with clouds moving in from the east. Although it was only early October, the wind carried an edge. The fair weather would not hold much longer, he could tell.

Bernie McKeon -- McGarr's chief of staff -- had already arrived, along with a pathologist and several members of the Tech Squad.

A man and a woman, who McGarr supposed were library officials, were standing off from the others.

McKeon handed McGarr the notes he'd taken since arriving.

"You've heard of squab under glass. It's served at the finest restaurants, I'm told. And duck too. But blue-d uniform security cop is a new one on me," McKeon said in an undertone.

McGarr glanced at his colleague, whose dark eyes were bright with the grisly irony that passed for humor in the Murder Squad.

The victim was encased, literally, under thick glass or high-quality Plexiglas. Not only was his security uniform a deep, midnight blue, but his face was some lighter shade of the color, rather like cornflower blue, except for where it was covered in blood, which had also smeared the glass.

"To control the deterioration of the manuscripts, the cases are hermetically sealed and the atmosphere's withdrawn. Or so says your man," McKeon continued. "He's the head librarian and she's the keeper of old manuscripts."

"Trevor Pape?" asked McGarr, glancing over at the two. Pape was a well-known figure in academic and arts circles and had attended openings at the picture gallery that Noreen had owned.

Death in Dublin
A Peter McGarr Mystery
. Copyright © by Bartholomew Gill. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Bartholomew Gill authored 15 Peter McGarr mysteries, among them The Death of an Irish Lover, The Death of an Irish Tinker, and the Edgar Award nominee The Death of a Joyce Scholar. A graduate of Trinity College, Dublin, Gill wrote as Mark McGarrity for the Star-Ledger. He died in 2002.

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