Bartholomew Gill

Peter McGarr - Police Chief, Dublin, Ireland

"Death in Dublin"

(Reviewed by Cindy Lynn Speer DEC 22, 2002)

Death in Dublin by Bartholomew Gill

No one knows why head of security Raymond Sloane helped them. He let them into the highly secure area of Dublin's Trinity College, where they stole the Book of Kells, the Book of Durrow and, even worse, the Book of Armagh. No one will ever know because Sloane was forced into the hermetically sealable display case, where he died of suffocation. Even before the thieves offer the books for ransom, police chief Peter McGarr is at the murder scene, trying to piece together the puzzle. Never has there been a greater uproar -- this case is not only dangerous, in that Ireland could lose some of its most valuable treasures, but its also a political nightmare.

They do know that Sloane played a part. A hidden voice recorder captures his last moments, and McGarr decides to visit the family. When the ransom tape comes in they discover that the thieves are a group of Druids, bent on bringing back all the old ways, including cutting off the heads of their enemies and hanging them up on the wall. They ask for a ransom, and, to prove their seriousness, burn a page from the Book of Kells. When Chas Sweeny, part mafia godfather, part Catholic fanatic, begs, borrows and threatens the ransom amount up, McGarr is less than thrilled. Chazz Sweeny is responsible for the murder of his beloved wife, Noreen, and her father.

Iit's nice to have a solely Irish mystery written by an accomplished "Irishphile." It has a flavor all its own, from the nuances of the dialogue to the imagery. Things like "It was a perfectly soft night" the mention of parsley potatoes and the slang phrases all make the book feel like a trip to Ireland. In many ways he manages to make the city of Dublin a character instead of a setting.

The story is also well plotted. People who you least expect as having a part in the theft are right in the middle, and things begin to look very bad for Peter. Because you feel so rotten for him, his love and loneliness over Noreen are very much an integral part of his character in this book, you're always hoping that Chas Sweeny is somehow involved, that he will get his comeuppance. When the ransom -- and the books -- are lost, your heart sinks because you have no idea how McGarr is going to be able to make things work out. I thought that the idea of bringing back Druidism, with the negative aspects rather than the positive ones that are being fostered today, was a very interesting move. I don't think that people, when considering adopting a religion, always consider the complete practices...the bad as well as the good, and so basing this cult on this other side of things makes for some interesting thoughts.

I am almost too late.This is the first Bartholowmew Gill book I've read...and while it's not the stay up all night book of the year, it is strangely comforting and compelling because McGarr is such a capable feeling detective. Death in Dublin is the last new mystery in this series, as sadly, Mr. Gill passed away during the summer. Harper Collins is re-issuing the first three books of the series, so perhaps people like me, brand new to Peter McGarr's world, will get a chance to catch up.

  • Amazon readers rating: from 6 reviews

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About the Author:

Bartholomew Gill or Mark McGarrityBartholomew Gill is a pseudonym name for Mark McGarrity, which was used when writing the Peter McGarr mysteries set in Ireland. McGarrity was born in Massachusetts, graduated Brown University and Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. He worked as a journalist for the Newark Star-Leger.  His Peter McGarr novel, The Death of a Joyce Scholar, was nominated for an Edgar Award. McGarrity divided his time between Cranberry Lake, New Jersey and Dublin, Ireland. He passed away in the summer of 2002. About Us | Subscribe | Review Team | History | ©1998-2014