cover image A Gruesome Discovery

A Gruesome Discovery

Cora Harrison. Severn, $28.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-7278-8758-0

Set in 1925, Harrison’s solid fourth mystery featuring the Reverend Mother Aquinas (after 2017’s Beyond Absolution) finds her examining a large trunk, a presumed charitable contribution, that’s been delivered to her at St. Mary’s of the Isle convent in Cork, Ireland. The trunk is labeled “old school books,” but the peculiar smell emanating from it puts the reverend mother on guard. An unexpected visitor, Fred Mulcahy, who has ties to the Republican movement, says the trunk might be his property. When she opens the lid, inside is the maggot-covered body of Fred’s father, well-to-do merchant Henry Mulcahy, wedged in with several rotting animal hides. The stricken Fred is surprised—he was expecting guns—and evades her questions before firing a shot into the corpse and making a hasty retreat. Determined to solve Henry’s murder, the reverend mother has to figure out whether his killing was political or personal. As usual, Harrison does a fine job mixing the explosive politics of 1920s Ireland with details of ordinary life. Agent: Peter Buckman, Ampersand Agency (U.K.). (Mar.)