cover image Cross of Vengeance: A Burren Mystery

Cross of Vengeance: A Burren Mystery

Cora Harrison. Severn, $28.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-7278-8320-9

Mara, the Brehon (or judge) for the area of Ireland known as the Burren doesn’t overlook a subtle murder clue in Harrison’s clever 10th 16th-century historical (after 2013’s Chain of Evidence). Kilnaboy Church, where Mara and five of her law students help celebrate the Feast of the Holy Cross, is home to what is reputedly a piece of the true cross—until someone sets a fire that destroys the relic. This act of arson is but the prelude to a killing that leaves a man’s naked corpse laid out on a tomb, displayed as if he had been crucified. Mara assumes there’s a connection between the two crimes and investigates, aided by her able pupils. The victim’s decision to skip breakfast on the day he was murdered proves vital to Mara’s inquiry, which leads to one of Harrison’s most intriguing solutions. The chapter epigraphs, drawn from medieval Irish texts, offer a tantalizing glimpse into the legal system of another time and place. Agent: Peter Buckman, Ampersand Agency (U.K.). (Feb.)