Tuesday, February 28, 2017
Tuesday - First Chapter - First Paragraph - A Shameful Murder
Each Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile By the Sea shares the first part of a book that she is reading or thinking about reading. This week I'm sharing the first paragraph of A Shameful Murder by Cora Harrison. Set in Ireland, this is the first book in the historical mystery series featuring Reverend Mother Aquinas. The second book, A Shocking Assassination, was published last fall. See what you think:
It was Reverend Mother Aquinas who found the body of the dead girl. It lay wedged within the gateway to the convent chapel at St. Mary's of the Isle, jettisoned by the flood waters. For a fanciful moment she had almost imagined that it was a mermaid swept up from the sea. The long silver gown gleamed beneath the gas lamp, wet as the skin of a salmon, and the streams of soaked curls were red-brown just like the crinkled carrageen seaweed she had gathered from the windswept beaches of Ballycotton when she was a child. Her heart beating fast, the Reverend Mother unlocked the gate and looked down at the sightless blue eyes that stared up from beneath a wide high brow at the blanched, soaked flesh of the cheeks and knew that there was nothing that she could do for the girl. She bent over, touched the stone-cold face and then with a hand that trembled slightly she signed the forehead with a small cross. The Reverend Mother had seen death many times in her long life, but in the young she still found it was almost unbearable.
Cork, Ireland. 1923. When, one wet March morning, Reverend Mother Aquinas discovers a body at the gate of the convent chapel washed up after a flood ‘like a mermaid in gleaming silver satin’, she immediately sends for one of her former pupils, Police Sergeant Patrick Cashman, to investigate.
Dead bodies are not unusual in the poverty-stricken slums of Cork city, but this one is dressed in evening finery; in her handbag is a dance programme for the exclusive Merchant’s Ball held the previous evening – and a midnight ticket for the Liverpool ferry.
Against the backdrop of a country in the midst of Ireland’s Civil War, the Reverend Mother, together with Sergeant Cashman and Dr. Sher, an enlightened physician and friend, seek out the truth as to the identity of the victim – and her killer.
It is interesting to me, as a frequent mystery reader, how many series have a member of the clergy as a protagonist. Take a look at the list here on Stop You're Killing Me (a great website for discovering mysteries and stuff about them). This series appealed to me not only because of the protagonist, but also the setting of 1920's Ireland.