The Sullivan Six return and with brother James running Naomi’s Bistro, Siobhan is now officially a Garda about to crack her first official case. The third entry in the Irish Village Mystery series, Murder in an Irish Churchyard (Kensington Books, February 2018), by Carlene O’Connor is the most complicated mystery to date involving the village regulars along with a large contingent of American suspects with a slew of motives.
O’Connor, returns to her fictional walled town of Kilbane in County Cork and to the siblings struggling to keep their family together following the death of their parents in the first of the series. Her former amateur sleuth, Siobhan, is now Garda O’Sullivan, though she still has plenty to learn about handling official murder investigations, especially when her ex-beau Garda Macdara returns in an official investigative capacity.
Excerpt: Siobhan sighed. If she could turn back time, go back and do it over, would she have chosen a different path? Her father used to say, “If wishes were horses how Siobhan would ride.” He was right. She wanted it all, the job and the man. Garda Siobhan O’Sullivan. She did the right thing. Why couldn’t he see that?
The former sweethearts are tasked with finding out who murdered Peter Mallon, an American in town to research a family mystery. With both the victim and many of the suspects hailing from across the pond, there’s an added element of the ticking clock in this case. Macdara and Siobhan have a collapsing window to find out what the Mallon clan is hiding and bring the perpetrator to justice before their suspects return to the states and before anyone else falls victim.
The Mallon family has a business empire built on family secrets, and this murder threatens inheritances as well as alliances. Infidelity, assumed identities, and greed all play a part. Unraveling the mystery amidst the wide range of suspects and very specific clues will keep most mystery readers engaged.
O’Connor is successful in luring the reader back within the walled village of Kilbane. The charming landscape and idiosyncrasies of small town life cast a welcoming spell. She weaves in new characters seamlessly with the regular villagers inhabiting the town and the previous two mysteries.
Another strength is the romantic tension between her heroine and Macdara. When Siobhan went off to follow her dreams of becoming a Garda, Macdara Flannery was in Dublin becoming a detective sergeant. O’Connor mines the inherent conflict of the once-in-love duo working together professionally to solve this crime.
Siobhan remains a likeable heroine, smart and caring, and supportive of her siblings. But she’s grown up some. The writing is more mature as well, tackling subjects including grief, legacy, and betrayal with both humor and gravitas. The third in the series is one to sink your teeth into and sets the stage for further adventures.