cover image Murder in an Orchard Cemetery

Murder in an Orchard Cemetery

Cora Harrison. Severn, $28.99 (240p) ISBN 978-0-7278-9040-5

In Harrison’s excellent eighth novel set in 1920s Cork, Ireland (after 2020’s Death of a Prominent Citizen), the Reverend Mother Aquinas normally looks forward to the annual weeklong spiritual retreat for the religious superiors of all the Cork schools as a welcome break from her busy routine because of the restriction of absolute silence. But this year, with a mayoral election looming, the bishop has decided to invite all five candidates to attend, including a shoe manufacturer and a female solicitor with IRA links, and to allow people to talk about the many vital issues facing the still young Irish republic. At the retreat, the Reverend Mother is downcast by indications that the vote appears susceptible to being “stage-managed by violence on one side and corruption upon the other.” The gathering turns deadly after a bomb set in a cemetery located on the retreat site detonates, killing one of the mayoral hopefuls. Though the police suspect the IRA, the Reverend Mother, a plausible and accomplished sleuth, digs deeper. The pacing, clueing, and characterizations are all top-notch. Father Brown fans will be in heaven. Agent: Peter Buckman, Ampersand Agency (U.K.). (Sept.)