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    by Cora Harrison, 2011    

I enjoyed this book and read it right through, no skipping pages or chapters.

A murder mystery story takes place in rural Irelend in 1510. Two nice clean murders by way of poisonous herbs taken in the customary cup of ale. Apparently then, ale was given to visitors as we would offer a cup of tea or coffee today. Many of those poisonous herbs we grow and are used in modern day medicine.

Mara, the heroine, is a judge/lawyer and runs a school for young boys aspiring to become lawyers. She holds a high position within the law and is married to the king of the county. He, by the way, is away from home most of the time fighting neighbouring county kings, so Mara is able to get on with solving crimes with help from the schoolboys. Her worry is that if the prime suspects flee to Galway where the English ruled she will have no jurisdiction over them. Their law was very different and more drastic than the Irish.

I liked the author's easy to read writing, the snippets of history, her descriptions of the plants and flowers we know, also the method of making hay I remember. Just a pity I didn't understand many of the gaelic words and wished a translation had been included.


Reviewed by Eunice Barnes