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A Secret and Unlawful Killing: A Mystery of Medieval Ireland (Mysteries of Medieval Ireland) Hardcover – September 16, 2008


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A Secret and Unlawful Killing: A Mystery of Medieval Ireland (Mysteries of Medieval Ireland) + The Sting of Justice: A Mystery of Medieval Ireland (Mysteries of Medieval Ireland) + My Lady Judge: A Mystery of Medieval Ireland
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Product Details

  • Series: Mysteries of Medieval Ireland (Book 2)
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books (September 16, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031237268X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312372682
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.6 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,766,658 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In Harrison's captivating second mystery set in the 16th-century kingdom of the Burren in western Ireland (after 2007's My Lady Judge), the murder of an arrogant steward, Ragnall MacNamara, leaves a wide field of suspects, as does the suspicious death of another surly citizen. The learned Mara, the sole woman Brehon (or judge) in Ireland, is responsible for all crimes on the Burren as well as for deciding such delicate questions as inheritances and even, in certain circumstances, approval of a marriage proposal. Harrison depicts the intricacies of Irish law so clearly and marries them to her plot so adroitly that despite their unfamiliarity they are easily understood. Engaging characters from the honorable King Turlough Donn O'Brien to Mara's eager law students add to the pleasure. Mara's quest to solve the murders and to restore peace to the people of the Burren makes for compelling reading. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

What seems an axiomatic title isn’t really: in the kingdom of Burren on the west coast of Ireland in 1509, the law is clear that only an unacknowledged killing is “secret and unlawful.” And thus is designated the death of Ragnall McNamara, a tax-collecting clan steward (widely disliked for overcharging) whose body is found with purse missing. When, days later, Aengus McNamara is found dead at his mill, Mara, the Brehon (judge) of Burren, suspects the two murders are linked and finds evidence pointing to Ragnall’s daughter’s suitor from another clan. Introduced in My Lady Judge (2007), Mara, a 36-year-old divorced grandmother appointed Brehon 15 years earlier, tasks the six boys studying at her law school with gathering information to help build her case. At the same time, she ponders the marriage proposal from King Turlough Donn O’Brien and the suitability of her dear friend and neighbor, Diarmuid, as a husband. However, the thoughtful balancing of Mara’s roles as woman and judge seems hastily tipped at the end, the only false note in another well-researched, appealing historical mystery. --Michele Leber

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Woven with a story that keeps you turning pages.
Amazon Customer
The key to this excellent sixteenth century legal investigative thriller is the insight into Irish law during that era.
Harriet Klausner
I did want to like this book, and to be fair, it is not a bad mystery.
Historian

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on September 18, 2008
Format: Hardcover
In 1509 everyone in the Burren region of Ireland looks forward to the Michelmas Fair until Steward Ragnall MacNamara raises the annual tribute. Even before his avaricious spin, the pompous nasty Stewart was an unpopular individual with many wanting him dead. Someone however decides to do the deed beating MacNamara to death in a churchyard.

The only LADY JUDGE in Ireland Brehon Mara leads the investigation into the homicide and the murder of another unlikable chap, Ragnall's enemy Aengus the miller. However as she expected seemingly everyone residing in the Burren had a motive to kill the odious Steward and disliked the Miller. The case seems to be going nowhere, but the Brehon continues her inquiries knowing the people need resolution.

The key to this excellent sixteenth century legal investigative thriller is the insight into Irish law during that era. The cast is strong with key players developed enough to enhance the exciting plot. Especially fully developed is the heroine whose intelligence and courage enables her to break through the gender barrier; in fact men somewhat fear her. However, the tidbits cleverly interwoven into the Brehon's inquiries so that they may seem odd today make for a fine refreshing historical tale.

Harriet Klausner
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By sewnow on June 6, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you like the medieval period this author provides a new and refreshing outlook into that world.
I will be reading more of her books.
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Format: Paperback
I am a fan of mysteries, particularly mysteries set in ancient times and locations. When I learned of this series, set in the early 1500s, just as England was trying to extend its power and influence over Ireland, I was eager to dig in and see how good they were. Having just finished this novel, the second in the series, I am happy to tell you that Cora Harrison is a powerful and knowledgable writer who delivers a wonderful and complex mystery and at the same time paints a colorful and detailed tableau of life in Ireland at the time of Henry's ascension to the British throne. As we follow the detective work of Mara, a Brehon for an Irish Kingdom, who must solve two murders, we also learn a lot about the structure of Irish society, with its complex weave of relationships in the clans, as well as being introduced to the basic tenets of Irish law. Because English law is beginning to be imposed on parts of Ireland, we also get to see a learned advocate as she works within the Irish legal framework while also reacting to what she sees as a punitive and excessively harsh English system.
This is an engaging read, with characters who come to life as full and believable humans and a plot that keeps the reader working as hard as Mara to follow the clues and to identify the law breakers.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The author is really gathering her stride. The character development in this second installment is grand. Excellent choice in entertaining reading.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Cora Harrison"s description of life, times, and the female perspective of these early times in
ancient Ireland make you feel you are there. Her research of the laws of early Ireland as opposed to the savagery of England's laws at that time are very descriptive.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Well written book about the Irish culture and its history. Woven with a story that keeps you turning pages. Add it to your collection.
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By Anita L. Cooley on December 21, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Great reading, the right amount of suspense, romance, history, and fun. I feel as if I am there with Mara on the Burren
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