Nora Gavin Mysteries, No 3
2010/ ISBN 9780416563761
by L J Roberts
First Sentence: Death was close at hand, but the wounded creature
leapt and twisted, desperate to escape.
Pathologist Nora Gavin has been working in Ireland and living
with Cormac Maguire.
Three years ago, her sister, Tríona, was murdered and although
her husband, Peter, was suspected, nothing could be proven. Now
that he’s about to remarry, Nora returns home afraid for both
her niece, Elizabeth, and Peter’s fiancée, as well
as determined to find out the truth. Back in Ireland, Cormac visits
his father who abandoned him and his mother when he was young. However,
a severe heart attack may end things before they truly get started.
After a very compelling opening, the story was a bit slow getting
into, but well
worth staying with. Ireland is always an appealing setting for the
story and the sense of being there was certainly much stronger than
being in Minnesota.
The characters were not very well developed and, with the exception
of Cormac’s father, neither were they particularly interesting
and the angst surrounding them became heavy-handed and overwhelming.
What saved them was the quality of the dialogue which captured both
the characters and the locales.
The plot with its dual threads was brought together in satisfactory
manner at the end but the folktale really could have been omitted,
making the story stronger by having each thread be a traditional
mystery, and there were several rather large coincidences which
felt awkward. What was well done were the descriptions were occasionally
filled with a great sense of poignancy. Hart did capture the tragedy
and pain of a family who has lost a child. There was a good building
of the suspense and an effective twist, although it was broadcast
a little too soon. The second twist, however, was extremely effective.
“False Mermaid” felt a bit overwritten and heavy-handed
at times; not quite certain what it wanted to be. Even so, it was
an enjoyable read with an effective ending.