Beyond Absolution

Cora Harrison. Severn, $28.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-7278-8713-9

Why would Father Dominic Alleyn, on the last day of his life, be troubled by seeing a slightly damaged Japanese ceramic hawk in an antique shop? That’s one of the questions Reverend Mother Aquinas must answer in Harrison’s stellar third whodunit set in 1920s Ireland (after 2016’s A Shocking Assassination). Prior Lawrence has the misfortune to find the body of his brother, Dominic, who’s an old friend of the reverend mother, in his brother’s confessional stall in Cork’s Holy Trinity Church. To the reverend mother’s added shock, the police doctor informs her that Dominic was murdered by someone who stabbed him through the ear with a narrow blade. Her former student and friend Insp. Patrick Cashman, of the recently established civic guards, leads the investigation, which involves identifying and interviewing all those known to have sought confession from the dead man on the day he was killed. Harrison cleverly integrates classic whodunit detection with the tense politics of the period, as Irish nationalists continue to struggle for independence. Agent: Peter Buckman, Ampersand Agency (U.K.). (Aug.)