Murder in an Irish Village (An Irish Village Mystery, #1) by Carlene O’Connor (Goodreads Author)
Amy Caudill‘s review
When Siobhan O’Sullivan witnesses a suspicious conversation between a family friend and the brother of the man who caused her parents death, she had no way of knowing the next time she saw Niall he would be sitting in her family’s bistro, with a pair of scissors in his chest.
This first book in the An Irish Village Mystery cozy mystery series takes place in Kilbane, Ireland. The story focuses on Siobhan, the second oldest of six children, dubbed by townsfolk as “The Irish Brady Bunch,” as she tries to solve a murder and save her brother and her family business, all while flirting with the local garda (police officer) Macdara Flannery.
I had a little difficulty getting into the story at first because the author jumped right into the action, and gave explanations/descriptions of characters as she went, which is not really a bad thing, but I felt a little lost for the first third of the book. I will say kudos to Carlene O’Connor for including a glossary of the most common pronunciations and colloquial terms; this was really invaluable for someone who is not up on Irish terms.
As the story continues, the reader really is able to identify more with the protagonist, a young woman who gave up her dream of going to college in a larger city in order to help her older brother James care for their younger siblings in the wake of their parents’ tragic death a year before the action takes place.
At first the reader is left wondering why the troublesome Niall keeps bringing up the accident that sent his brother to prison and caused the death of the O’Sullivan parents. Does he really have proof his brother was innocent, or is he just trying to extort money from anyone vulnerable in town? His murder, near the beginning of the story, leaves many questions that seemingly cannot be answered fast enough to keep James from being accused of the crime, so naturally Siobhan has to help, despite the direct orders of Garda Flannery.
The reader is witness to conflict between the siblings, multiple romantic possibilities for Siobhan, and a number of humorous situations where the siblings play amateur detective and narrowly avoid getting into trouble for their efforts. All in all, this book had a well-developed plot and entertaining characters. After the confusing intro, the story really settled into a focus on Siobhan, as she tried to balance caring for the children, running the bistro, and searching for clues without offending her neighbors or angering the handsome detective.
Overall, I think this book established a great basis for a cozy mystery series, with plenty of secondary characters and a beautiful locale to further plots. I give it four stars and would recommend it to any fan of cozy mysteries