The Book of Killowen

The Book of Killowen

4.2 21
by Erin Hart
     
 

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An ancient volume of philosophical heresy provides a motive for murder in this haunting, lyrical novel of forensics, archeology, and history—the fourth in an acclaimed suspense series.

What sort of book is worth a man’s life? After a year away from working in the field, archaeologist Cormac Maguire and pathologist Nora Gavin are back in the

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Overview

An ancient volume of philosophical heresy provides a motive for murder in this haunting, lyrical novel of forensics, archeology, and history—the fourth in an acclaimed suspense series.

What sort of book is worth a man’s life? After a year away from working in the field, archaeologist Cormac Maguire and pathologist Nora Gavin are back in the bogs, investigating a ninth-century body found buried in the trunk of a car. They discover that the ancient corpse is not alone—pinned beneath it is the body of Benedict Kavanagh, missing for mere months and familiar to television viewers as a philosopher who enjoyed destroying his opponents in debate. Both men were viciously murdered, but centuries apart—so how did they end up buried together in the bog?

While on the case, Cormac and Nora lodge at Killowen, a nearby artists’ colony, organic farm, and sanctuary for eccentric souls. Digging deeper into the older crime, they become entangled in high-stakes intrigue encompassing Kavanagh’s death while surrounded by suspects in his ghastly murder. It seems that everyone at Killowen has some secret to protect.

Set in modern-day Ireland, The Book of Killowen reveals a new twist on the power of language—and on the eternal mysteries of good and evil.

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Editorial Reviews

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
"Fascinating.... The nature of language and love...winds through Hart's plot in intriguing and surprising ways."
The Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Vivid and compelling.”
Publishers Weekly
Hart combines powerful insights into human nature and pristine prose with history and archeology in her stellar fourth crime novel featuring Irish archeologist Cormac Maguire and American pathologist Nora Gavin (after 2010’s False Mermaid). When the bog-preserved but dismembered and stabbed body of a ninth-century monk is found with the body of Benedict Kavanagh—the host of an intellectual TV chat show who’s been missing for months—in the trunk of a car excavated from a Tipperary bog, Nora and Cormac investigate on the behalf of Ireland’s National Museum. The pair, working in parallel with local detective Stella Cusack, look into landowner Vincent Claffey and the residents of the artists’ colony at Killowen, a tight-knit community of individuals with hidden pasts and strong motivations to protect themselves. Hart teases the reader with hints without telegraphing the solutions to the mysteries a moment too soon. This exploration of the ways people keep secrets, innocuous and terrible, to create sanity out of difficult pasts, offers food for thought that persists beyond the immediate thrill of a well-told tale. Agent: Sally Wofford-Girand, Brickhouse Literary Agents. (Mar.)
Jacquelyn Mitchard
Can the arcane science and lore of the Irish "bog people," who often died alone and in agony, be fuel for a mystery that actually does what The Da Vinci Code tried to do? A thousand times yes, if Erin Hart's storytelling witchery is at work. Intelligent, eerie, utterly compelling.
From the Publisher
Can the arcane science and lore of the Irish "bog people," who often died alone and in agony, be fuel for a mystery that actually does what The Da Vinci Code tried to do? A thousand times yes, if Erin Hart's storytelling witchery is at work. Intelligent, eerie, utterly compelling.

“Hart’s foray into soggy Killowen has a rock-solid foundation of musical language and deft plotting.”

Hart combines powerful insights into human nature andpristine prose with history and archeology in her stellar fourth crime novel… [TheBook of Killowen] offers food for thought that persists beyond theimmediate thrill of a well-told tale.”

"A textured, multifaceted plot that holds the reader from beginning to end. And a high energy,

exciting finale [that] only adds to the pleasure. Another strong entry in an outstanding series."

Booklist
"A textured, multifaceted plot that holds the reader from beginning to end. And a high energy,

exciting finale [that] only adds to the pleasure. Another strong entry in an outstanding series."

ILoveaMysteryNewsletter.com
THE BOOK OF KILLOWEN is as much a treasure as the archeological marvels the peat preserves. It leaves the reader satisfied, yet yearning for the next adventure of this likeable pair of sleuths.
Library Journal
Pathologist Nora Gavin and archeologist Cormac Maguire are called to the bogs of Killowen to investigate the remains of a ninth-century man found in the trunk of a car along with the body of a controversial medievalist and television talk show host. Mixing work with pleasure, they choose to stay at the spa-lodge of Killowen, once a monastic settlement. Its permanent residents are an eclectic mix of artists and organic farmers who are not entirely appreciated by the locals. Nora and Cormac quickly learn that murder is not uncommon in this remote corner of Ireland and that the residents of the lodge, particularly the estranged wife of the dead TV host and her lover/assistant, all have secrets to hide. Working alongside a prickly group of local Gardai (police officers) and representatives of the National Museum, Nora and Cormac unravel a fascinating tale of ancient scribes, illuminated manuscripts, obsessive treasure hunters, and death. VERDICT This welcome fourth addition (after False Mermaid) to Hart's Irish archaeological series offers a richly atmospheric read full of medieval Irish lore and a provocative contemporary mystery. Sure to be a huge hit with readers of Aaron Elkins, Elly Griffiths, and Erin Hart's earlier Gavin/Maguire stories. [See Prepub Alert, 10/8/12.]—Susan Clifford Braun, Bainbridge Island, WA
Kirkus Reviews
Two bodies killed hundreds of years apart bring pathologist Nora Gavin (False Mermaid, 2010, etc.) and archaeologist Cormac Maguire to Killowen, home to an ancient order of scribes. Nearly 1,200 years ago, young Eóghan was brought to the monastery at Killowen by his mother, who was at wits' end with his strange vocalizations and uncontrollable movements. There, his fascination with the monks' Scriptorum grew until the brothers allowed the youth to copy their sacred texts. Was it one of those illuminated manuscripts that led to the death of philosopher Benedict Kavanagh, who skewered rivals on his weekly television show and who recently told his estranged wife, Mairéad Broome, of a find that would set the scholarly world on its ear? The discovery of Kavanagh's body, along with the body of a man who perished centuries earlier, in the trunk of a car submerged in Killowen Bog brings Nora and Cormac to this remote corner of Killarney, along with Cormac's father, Joseph, still recovering from a stroke, and his caregiver, Eliana. The four stay at a local artists' retreat, where Claire Finnerty and her band of painters, potters and calligraphers include the visitors in their communal meals but keep them at arm's length from their personal lives. Local police detective Stella Cusack is more welcoming. But pressure to close the widely publicized case quickly and the demands of life with her teenage daughter Lia threaten Stella's professional and personal well-being. Hart's foray into soggy Killowen has a rock-solid foundation of musical language and deft plotting.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781451634853
Publisher:
Scribner
Publication date:
03/11/2014
Pages:
352
Sales rank:
355,960
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.10(d)

Read an Excerpt

The Book of Killowen

  • Domfarcai fidbaidæ fál fomchain lóid luin lúad nad cél.

    Huas mo lebrán indlínech fomchain trírech innanén . . .

    Fommchain cói menn medair mass himbrot lass de dindgnaib doss

    debrath nomchoimmdiu cóima cáinscríbaimm foróda ross.

    A hedge of trees surrounds me:

    a blackbird’s lay sings to me

    praise which I will not hide . . .

    Above my manuscript—the lined one—

    the trilling of the birds sings to me.

    In a gray mantle the cuckoo sings

    a beautiful chant to me from the tops of bushes:

    may the Lord protect me from Doom!

    I write well under the greenwood.

    —Verse written in the margin by an Irish scribe who copied Priscian’s Institutiones Grammaticae (a Latin grammar) in the mid-ninth century

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