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Death of an Irish Lover: An Inspector Peter Mcgarr Mystery

Death of an Irish Lover: An Inspector Peter Mcgarr Mystery

5.0 1
by Bartholomew Gill

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Crime runs rampant in the picturesque town of Leixleap — and onIreland's famed River Shannon, where brazen thieves illegally harvestthe gourmet-prized eels that flourish there. But while poachingmay be something the local Eel Police division is well-equippedto handle, murder is wholly another matter.


Chief Inspector Peter McGarr has been called out


Crime runs rampant in the picturesque town of Leixleap — and onIreland's famed River Shannon, where brazen thieves illegally harvestthe gourmet-prized eels that flourish there. But while poachingmay be something the local Eel Police division is well-equippedto handle, murder is wholly another matter.


Chief Inspector Peter McGarr has been called out from Dublin to investigate a troubling double homicide. The nude body of young, pretty, and,recently married Eel Policewoman Ellen Gilday Finn has been discoveredin the bed of a hot-sheet inn — wrapped around the equally unclothedcorpse of her much older boss, Pascal Burke. A crime of passion, perhaps, pointing to Ellen's cuckolded newly wedded husband as the perpetrator. But conflicting clues and false confessions are leading McGarrinto dangerous hidden corners where greed, corruption, IRA terror andradical, possibly deadly, environmentalism are but a few of the,dark blooms secretly nourished in the rich loam of the Irish countryside.

Editorial Reviews

NY Times Book Review
Gill knows his Ireland and his police work.
Gills dialogue is always superb. It's the Irish talking.
Dallas Morning News
Carefully following leads through an ever-more-tangled investigation, McGarr remains the quintessential Irishman, loving his glass and his lass, but never forgetting to look behind him for the devil creeping up.
Orlando Sentinel
Gill is a nimble plotter and fine writer...the forensic evidence proves quite a puzzle.
Chicago Tribune
This latest effort by Bartholomew Gill has enough wit, scenic beauty and flashes of brilliantly captured language and unexpected violence to move it toward the top of anyone's pile.
Philadelphia Inquirer
McGarr and his colorful cast of coppers are as energetic as ever. It's entertaining for most and, for fans, brilliant altogether.
Houston Chronicle
Evocative...literate and unsentimental...The results reading experience is pure pleasure.
Denver Post
McGarr is as complex and engaging a character as you can hope to meet in contemporary crime fiction, but the real focus of this series is modern-day Ireland itself, and Gill is a marvelous tour guide, showing us that troubled country's charms and warts with style and wit.
New York Times Book Review
The beauty of Bartholomew Gill's Irish police procedurals has as much to do with their internal complexity as with their surface charms and graces...beguiling...The contradictions Gill manages to unearth in one small, placid patch of Irish ground are simply astonishing.
Washington Post Book World
Atmospheric and deeply gloomy—just as an Irish mystery should be.
NJ) Star Ledger(Newark
What you get in Bartholomew Gill's Dublin-based Inspector Peter McGarr series is always a little something extra—a bit of Irish lore or tradition...The Death of an Irish Lover is a competent police procedural with a certain quirky pertinence.
Globe and Mail [Toronto]
The Peter McGarr series never fails to surprise and delight me with the wit, charm and talent Bartholomew Gill brings to his long-running character.
Baldwin Ledger
A strong police procedural, a complicated plot, and a very satisfactory read.
Kirkus Reviews
Chief Superintendent Peter McGarr's traveled from Dublin to some strange postings in his 14 earlier cases (The Death of an Irish Tinker, 1997, etc.), but no summons has been stranger than his long-lost friend Tim Tallon's peremptory demand—namely, that he come to Leixleap ("Salmon Jump") to seek out the connection between a rash of poaching that's stymied the region's Eel Police and the two naked corpses, a man and woman of strikingly different generations, found together in bed.

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HarperCollins Publishers
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A Peter McGarr Mystery , #14
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Chapter One

Pulling his car onto the shoulder of the dual carriageway, McGarr peered down into the valley of the Shannon.

Below him stretched a vista that had remained unchanged at least since Ireland had been cleared of its forests in the seventeenth century -- a patchwork of green fields, iridescent under a pale sun and bounded by a web of gray-stone walls.

The pattern stretched in every direction as far as the eye could see, dotted here and there with bright bits of black-and-white cattle that were feeding on the last green grass of the year before being confined to barn or haggard the winter long.

It was fully autumn now, and the smoke of kitchen fires could be seen rising from farmhouse chimneys into the chill air. Down in one low field, a hopeful farmer was disking the land to plant winter wheat in spite of recent snow. A cloud of crows wheeled in the

lee of his, tractor, dlving for the grubs and worms that the bright blades were turning up.

The Shannon itself divided the idyllic scene, as in many ways it did the country, east from west. A wide and sinuous strip of silver, the river had overflowed its banks in places, rushing to the sea. But on a high bluff in a bend of the confluence lay the town that had summoned McGarr. Because of the report of two deaths. "Murdered together in bed," the caller had told him.

Called Leixleap (literally, "Salmon Jump"), it was a collection of no more than three dozen houses around the spires of two churches and a bridge over the river. The ruins of a sixteenth-century castle occupied the highest ground, and there was even the outline of a motte -- an ancient earthenfort-from pre-Christian days when the river had been the main thoroughfare of the Irish Midlands.

Lined with narrow vintage dwellings, Leixleap's old main street traced the river with tour and fishing boats tied along a diked wall. There was even a riverside park -- courtesy of an EU grant, McGarr would bet -- jutting out into the stream. At the bridge, the old cobbled street formed a T with a newer road that was lined with shops that were busy on this, a Saturday.

"It's there you'll find me," the voice had said to McGarr on the phone. "Mine is the biggest, prettiest, and surely the most valuable edifice in town. And it's that that bothers me, Peter."

Sitting in his office in Dublin Castle, where he had been completing paperwork of a quiet Saturday afternoon, McGarr had waited.

Finally, the man had added, "It was done, I'm sure,

to finish me. And it will, without your help. You're my only hope."

McGarr had turned in his chair and looked out the grimy window into Dame Street, which was choked with shoppers and traffic, now as Christmas approached. The ... hubris of the man is what he remembered of Tim Tallon, who had been a schoolyard bully.

Son of a powerful and wealthy judge, he had thumped and punished every smaller boy at the prestigious Christian Brothers Academy in Synge Street. Until he stole from one, who had the courage to tell. And the good brothers had promptly expelled the hulking lad.

That one had been McGarr,. a much younger scholarship student who found Tallon waiting for him after school when McGarr set off for his working-class home in Inchicore. Across Dublin the larger boy had gone at McGarr repeatedly, with the fight broken up mercifully by a publican on one comer, a butcher on another.

That man had whispered in McGarr's car before releasing him, "Now, Red -- I'll give you a running start. If you don't think you can get clear, you're to lay for him with something solid. Go for the knees. Then, stay out of reach."

Good advice and well taken. In an alley off Davit Street, McGarr had surprised Tallon with a length of lumber -- a low blow to the side of one knee. And then, nipping in with short, sharp punches, he had drubbed the larger, slower boy, until yet another charitable adult had finally intervened. On Tallon's behalf.

At home that evening, McGarr's father-smoking a pipe in his easy chair in their diminutive sitting room-had glanced over his newspaper, taking in McGarr's broken nose and black eyes, his torn and bloody school-uniform jacket and trousers, and finally his bruised and scraped knuckles. "Something to say?" be had asked.

McGarr had not.

"Are you right, lad?"

McGarr had nodded.

"And you'll find the money for new gear?" he asked, there being eight others at the time in the family.

Again McGarr had nodded.

"So -- is there anything that needs attending?" He meant, at school.

McGarr shook his head.

Regarding him, his father had smiled, which was a sign of approbation from the unassuming good man who very well understood what growing up in Dublin could be like. "Go in to your mother now. Maybe she can patch that nose."

McGarr had neither seen nor heard from Tim Tallon until the phone call now some forty years later. And with what? Only the report of a double murder, if TalIon could be believed.

"Sure, Peter -- we've been following you and your career in the papers and on the telly for ... how long has it been? Decades. And when we found them dead only a minute or two ago after the maid opened the door to make up the room, well then I says to meself, says I, I'll call Peter. He's an old friend and mighty. He'll handle this thing the way it should be handled. Hush-hush, like.

"Tell you true, we've scrimped and scraped, worked and saved to build this business and--Christ--some-thing like this could ruin us surely. You know how things go."

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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Death of an Irish Lover 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is one of the later Peter McGarr mysteries. While it has its positives, it was not an entirely satisfying read. The murder that is the centerpiece of the story is intriguing. An Irish lover - a middle aged, seducer of women - is found shot, apparently while in the midst of one of his escapades, in this case with an unlikely female partner. There are two mysteries. First, who did it; secondly, since both the Irish lover and his partner were killed with a single bullit in the middle of a bedroom, how could someone have snuck up on them and done this. Per usual for a McGarr mystery, the book is filled with interesting characters, some of whom are part of a long standing McGarr mystery cast. In addition, as mentioned, the crime itself is interesting. Having read a number of McGarr mysteries, I am always interested in how he mixes in some aspect of Irish culture or history. His books are not only fun, but educational. That, however, was one of my disappointments with this book. The theme for this book is eel poaching on the Shannon (including an IRA connection). There is an interesting chapter on the subject in the middle of the book, but it almost reads like a separate essay. While eel poaching adds a few suspects to the story, it plays little to no role in the murder. Secondly, the book comes to a rather abrupt end. All of a sudden, McGarr decides who committed the murder and how. The evidence is so slim that the guilty party correctly declares that McGarr has an interesting theory, but it will never hold up in court. Thus, Bartholomew has to invent some other contrivance so that the guilty party can come to justice.
harstan More than 1 year ago

The Leixleap Inn owner Tim Tallon calls his childhood acquaintance, Ireland¿s Chief Superintendent Peter McGarr to report a double murder. The victims are two Eel Officers, Ellen Gilday and her superior Pascal Burke. They have been found in an illicit position that defies her recent marriage to a local lad.

Peter, as the head of homicide in the country, begins his investigation into the killing of two cops. He quickly realizes that several motives exist. They could be victims of a love crime from either her spouse or one of his string of lovers. They could be victims of an IRA assassination since a questionable confession from a former member provides a clear-cut tie to the group. Finally, there is the economic crime as there is a thriving eel poaching business that the two cops were assigned to control.

The fourteenth McGarr mystery is a taut police procedural that shows why the lead character has been a favorite of readers for over two decades. The story line is exciting as the motive for the killings keeps switching based on the latest findings. McGarr remains one of the more endearing fictional detectives as he still retains his wit and intelligence even with the frustrations of a seemingly ever-changing case. Bartholomew Gill proves he still is one of the masters of the Irish mystery without the trite maudlin gushiness that many authors feel is a requirement of a tale set in Ireland.

Harriet Klausner