Bartholomew Gill—Avon Books
Paddy Power was a long-time friend of her family as she grew up. She says: “He was so alive and irrepressible and brilliant. He radiated hope. He had wit without malice, obviously a keen intellect—and he loved the small, fine details that make life interesting. You know, the sort of person you could point to with pride and say, now he’s Irish.” Paddy Power was a fabulously successful international banker. But, he never forgot where he came from or who he was.
At a conference of international bankers held at a luxurious hotel in Kerry, he had a heart attack. He seemed to have taken the wrong medicine. At first, his death had been seen as a tragic accident. But, when it is learned that his medicine had been switched, his death becomes murder.
Peter McGarr is the Chief Superintendent of the Murder Squad of the Irish Police. He is called in to investigate. What does McGarr look like? Average height, bald on top, he kept long the light red hair that remained. He had “a long face, morning murky gray eyes, and aquiline nose that had been knocked off center more than once and now looked a bit flattened.”
McGarr realizes that vast amounts of money are discussed at the conference, and because of this there are many suspects. The topic of the conference, and the plot of the book, is really the future of Ireland. “Ireland was a small agrarian nation with…little future beyond whatever Britain, still Ireland’s major trading partner, was willing to grant us. Historically, that had prime Ireland’s economy with borrowed money, got some industries going and Irish-made goods on the world market. When money would begin coming in the whole mechanism would become self-sustaining. And there would be a modern, productive republic for nothing more than the courage and foresight to risk debt. However, interest rates soared…and economic contraction set in…the debt had to be paid back in hard currency.”
Some of the suspects want to sell off parts of Ireland to repay the debt!!
Bartholomew-Gill is the pen name of Mark McGarrity. All 22 of the mystery novels he wrote are set in Ireland. He never tired of “mining” Ireland for themes for his novels. McGarrity earned an undergraduate degree from Brown University and a master degree from Trinity College Dublin. Born in 1943, he died in 2002. The New York Times said he “died of a fall” and hit his head. This was at his home in New Jersey.
The book has an intriguing mystery and uses beautiful language and sparkling quotes. These are some you’ll like:
The detective makes a detailed observation when a suspect opens the door. “In it stood a short, older woman with wide shoulders that were marked out by the sheen of a stylish golfing jacket, thin-lipped, she was wearing slacks of the same tan material and athletic shoes that were new and white. “Her hair, which was dark and wavy, had been cut short, and a deep tan made her look younger than her fifty-five or so years. With smooth, regular features and a definite chin, she was still what McGarr thought of as fetching.”
One of McGarr’s fellow detectives was born and raised in the country. “In the fields, she could hear the plaintive, pulling cries of lapwing. Overhead, swallows and swifts were working the currents, streaking the sky for moths and flies that the warmth had brought. To the west, the sun was just beneath the dense bank of clouds. She kept her eyes on the horizon, as the brilliant tones of crimson and magenta muted through royal blue to the deeper, dim tones of purple and finally abiding shade of mauve that would in time simply fade into starry blackness.”
“Good traditional Irish music touched something deep in people. Having been preserved with fierce racial pride, it was a mixture—curious in this day and age—of life and antiquity.”
“The deep, rapid throbbing of the bodhran was the wild beating of the smitten heart. The fiddle, concertina, and flute, were the spirits soaring and provided the need for mental activity of reality and the need to make connections in life.”
Review by Frank West