Death of an Irish Sinner: A Peter McGarr Mysteryby Bartholomew Gill
Bartholomew Gill's superb crime series featuring Chief Superintendent Peter McGarr of the Dublin police gets better, richer, and more flavorful with the passage of time. Now the gifted author writing at the top of his form gives us a spellbinding work of mystery and suspense in which guilt lies as heavily on the shoulders of saints as on those of sinners and purity… See more details below
Bartholomew Gill's superb crime series featuring Chief Superintendent Peter McGarr of the Dublin police gets better, richer, and more flavorful with the passage of time. Now the gifted author writing at the top of his form gives us a spellbinding work of mystery and suspense in which guilt lies as heavily on the shoulders of saints as on those of sinners and purity and violence coexist in the depths of the human soul.
A priest approaches Peter McGarr on the chief superintendent's rare day off. The man of the cloth has come to report a murder and to make a bizarre request: Could McGarr have the death officially listed as an accident and then pursue the investigation in secret? The answer, of course, is no.
Perhaps the chief superintendent would have been wiser to have accepted Father Duggan's offer of covert aid, since McGarr's official investigation is being oddly opposed at every turn. Yet the deeper McGarr digs, the closer he is drawn to a secret order of religious zealots called Opus Dei a group devoted to enforcing the Lord's edicts no matter what the cost in money...or human life.
But there are unexpected consequences to looking too closely at the activities of an organization that guards its anonymity as obsessively as it pursues its "sacred calling." More death is doubtlessly in the offing as a web of dark secrets, vengeance, and blood spins out across a century. And suddenly the stakes are being raised to a chilling new level, as the madness reaches out to touch the one place where Peter McGarr is most vulnerable: the precious heart of his own adored family.
Once again author Bartholomew Gill presents a splendid, richly atmospheric warts-and-all view of his beloved Ireland, in a novel of mystery that stands proudly among not only the best of his previous works but among the best crime novels of the past decade.
Read an Excerpt
Two weeks later in Dublin, the same woman who had visited STASI headquarters used a master key to enter the office of Francis Xavier Foley in fashionable Fitzwilliam Square.
It was a quiet Sunday afternoon, and she assumed nobody would be about.
But she had only began her search when she heard a key in the lock andin stepped Foley himself, she knew from the photographs she had been given of the man.
"You there!" Foley roared. "What the devil are you doing in my files?"
"What does it look like to a devil?" she replied, continuing her search as though his presence did not matter. "Aren't you supposed to be on holiday?"
"Get out of that! Get out of that now!" A big man who weighed over seventeen stone in his fifty-second year, Foley rushed across the small room and lunged at her, only to find himself quickly down on the carpet with her foot on his throat.
"I could kill you now, but I need you to answer a few questions. Pick yourself up, close the door, and sit in that chair." The foot came away.
"Those files are protected by law," Foley complained as he rose to his feet unsteadily. His groin and neck were now galling him. "I'm a solicitor."
"No, you're not. You're a blackmailer."
"I should call the police." Foley managed to reach a chair.
"Go ahead. Here's the phone."
It landed on the floor by his feet.
"Wouldn't they be interested in what's in here?"
As the pain eased, Foley took in the woman late thirties or early forties with close-cropped blond hair, blue eyes, and a brace of gold rings pierced through the edge of one ear.
It was hotin the tiny office that Foley leased mainly for the upmarket mailing address, and she had removed her jacket.
Wearing only a tank top and tight slacks the same pale color as her eyes, the woman was either an athlete or some class of weight lifter, he judged. Her shoulders and arms were taut with muscle, and the rest of her looked just as fit.
Not a stupid man, Foley quickly considered his options. He could ring up the police, and surely they would arrest her for illegal entry. But she could and probably would bring Garda investigators down on him as well. Foley did not want that.
It had taken much hard digging into the private lives of the country's elite to get him where he was. Now Foley had a house on Killiney Bay,another in the Azores, a trophy wife and two young children, a mistress, and the sure knowledge that a steady flow of untaxable readies would come streaming in to him for the rest of his life, with nothing more for him to do than to keep his identity hidden. And his threats frequent.
Of course, all that was on hold, at least for the moment. At the very least, Foley would have to move his office and sequester his files, in case she both took what she needed and informed the police. Wasn't it now wiser to discover whose dossier she was after? And how she had found him out? Then he would decide what to do.
"Can I help you with anything? What is it you're looking for?" he asked.
"Is the information in these files on your computer as well?" She pointed to the machine on a table behind the desk.
"If you mean, do I back up my files? I do, surely. Here and elsewhere. "Hearing the sound of his own deep voice emboldened Foley, and it now occurred to him how completely the woman would disrupt his life if he allowed her to leave the office.
"Mark me, woman," he blurted out. "When I discover who sent you, I'll double what I'm owed or expose them. Just for the fuck of it."
As though smitten by the word, she stopped her search, closed the filing cabinet drawer, and turned to him with a brittle smile creasing the corners of her mouth. "Never, ever utter that word again in my presence."
Fuck off, Foley wanted to say, but something fierce and final in her light blue eyes made him hold his tongue. It was as though, suddenly, her face had become a mask.
"You're a thoroughly despicable human being," she continued in an even but unnatural tone, stepping toward the computer. "For the better part of twenty blessed years you've been preying upon people for their weaknesses and indiscretions. It's disgusting and totally un-Christian the way you've behaved. Have y'never heard the word work?"
Foley tried to suss out her accent, which was neutral but with now and again a certain flat twang, as though Australian or American.
Unplugging the monitor, keyboard, and printer, she picked up the central processing unit and turned to him. "Tell me, how'd you get on to Mary-Jo?"
Foley's head went back, and a wave of adrenaline surged through his large body. Christ Almighty, he thought, it's them. Little wonder she had found him out and got a key to the office. The bastards were so well placed, and they were everywhere.
For months after Foley had flown to East Germany over a decade ago andpaid the equivalent of twenty thousand pounds Sterling to copy the Hopfwoman's file, he had agonized over blackmailing Mary-Jo Stanton just because of what was happening now.
Over and over, had told himself there were simply too many of them, and it was impossible to know who they were.
And with God on their side and their entire history of claiming to be...what? the successors to the Knights Templar they would murder him without compunction if they found him out. So his reason had told him...
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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