Two for One

Wrapping up Reading Ireland Month with two good reads…

A Stone of the Heart by John Brady

A Brutal murder on the grounds of Trinity College, Dublin, sparks a police investigation with unexpected consequences for Sergeant Matt Minogue of the Garda Murder Squad. When the body of student Jarlath Walsh is discovered with his head beaten in, Minogue instinctively knows that this is no random killing. Walsh was a young idealist, an innocent, as his grieving girlfriend Agnes McGuire confirms. But someone wants Minogue to believe that Walsh was a drug pusher who got what he deserved. As the sergeant digs deeper into the case, Dublin is rocked by IRA violence — a violence that seems somehow linked to the student’s murder. Minogue discovers the truth only after he is nearly killed when a hair-raising chase ends in a fateful clash in that no-man’s land which is the border with Northern Ireland.
    The title comes from Yeats: “Too long a sacrifice can make a stone of the heart.” The stony heartedness of grief and political hatred resonate through this subtle thriller set against a backdrop of terrorist violence.

This book is the first in the Inspector Matt Minogue Mystery series, there are ten books in the series. Minogue is freshly called back to service after a serious on duty injury. He’s really not sure if his superiors really want him to, or care if, he solves this case or if they just thought it was a good vehicle to see if he is ready to come back to work. He second guesses everything they do or say to him.  Set in the unrest of 1980’s Ireland, lots of politicking going on. This book sets us up with insight with his past and family dynamics. We learn who Matt Minogue is. It is a slow read with a dramatic chase at the end. Well worth the time. I first heard about this book way back in 2013 on Tracy’s blog Bitter Tea and Mystery. Hop over and read her review too! It’s been on my shelf since 2013, wow! Glad I finally read it!


Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín

  Eilis Lacey has come of age in small-town Ireland in the hard years following World War Two. When an Irish priest from Brooklyn offers to sponsor Eilis in America, she decides she must go, leaving her fragile mother and her charismatic sister behind.
    Eilis finds work in a department store on Fulton Street and when she least expects it, finds love. Tony, who loves the Dodgers and his big Italian family, slowly wins her over with patient charm. But just as Eilis begins to fall in love, devastating news from Ireland threatens the promise of her future.

I very much enjoyed this book! It was a gentle, sweet story of an immigrant’s journey. Eilis didn’t really belong in her new homeland and now doesn’t really belong in her old homeland anymore. Somewhat sad really.

Looking forward to reading Nora Webster by this author soon. Nora is mentioned in this book. There is a recent movie, of the same title, made from this book. Have any of you seen Brooklyn!

Sad that Reading Ireland Month is over, but looking forward to next year. I discovered several new authors through this and will definitely be looking for their books. Thanks Cathy!

Irish TV

Keeping with all things Irish this month of The Begorrathon over at Cathy’s 746 Books I thought I would highlight a couple of Irish TV shows that I absolutely loved.

91fU27Tzy5L._SY550_Quirke is a three part crime noir series based on John Banville’s series of crime novels written under the pen name Benjamin Black. Amazing that I loved this show so much since I haven’t been able to get into a Banville book enough to finish one! I guess I should try this series. I loved Gabriel Byrne in this. I love him in anything actually. Byrnes plays Quirke, we never know his first name, a pathologist in 1950’s Dublin. It’s a beautiful period piece. It aired in 2014 on RTE and then BBC One. Michael Gambon plays Quirke’s adoptive father.

The first episode is based on the first book in the series Christine Falls:

It’s not the dead that seem strange to Quirke. It’s the living. One night, after a few drinks at an office party, Quirke shuffles down into the morgue where he works and finds his brother-in-law, Malachy, altering a file he has no business even reading. Odd enough in itself to find Malachy there, but the next morning, when the haze has lifted, it looks an awful lot like his brother-in-law, the esteemed doctor, was in fact tampering with a corpse—and concealing the cause of death.

It turns out the body belonged to a young woman named Christine Falls. And as Quirke reluctantly presses on toward the true facts behind her death, he comes up against some insidious—and very well-guarded—secrets of Dublin’s high Catholic society, among them members of his own family.

Set in Dublin and Boston in the 1950s, the first novel in the Quirke series brings all the vividness and psychological insight of Booker Prize winner John Banville’s fiction to a thrilling, atmospheric crime story. Quirke is a fascinating and subtly drawn hero, Christine Falls is a classic tale of suspense, and Benjamin Black’s debut marks him as a true master of the form.

Watch the RTÊ trailer…

You can watch clips on this show on the BBC site.

I really need to read these books! I did find a headline, while looking for info on this series, dated March 16, 2018 that states Byrnes returns to Dublin to film series two of Quirke! I can live in hope! This series doesn’t seem to be available in many places. I did find it on Amazon. You can buy episodes or watch it with a trial of Britbox through Amazon. Click on the link for Amazon above. Have you seen it? Have you read any of the books? What did you think of it?

Another Irish TV series I really enjoyed is Jack Taylor, a mystery drama set in Galway based on the Jack Taylor series of books by Ken Bruen. Jack is an old-school detective, a maverick, a hard drinking man, thrown off the force for one too many ‘incidents’. He starts picking up cases the cops won’t touch and begins a career as a ‘finder’, private eye sounds too much like an informant. Iain Glen plays the lead character and he is excellent in this role of a battered, hard-broiled and broken man. Again books I have not read. I did come across a Bruen book once at a sale, but didn’t pick it up.

Jack Taylor trailer…

There are four seasons of this series! This series is available on Netflix, Acorn, or Amazon Prime.

Have you read any of these books or seen this show? Did you like it?

The Small Widow

by Janet McNeill

img_3856-1back of the book:

Harold’s death leaves Julia a widow, alone and struggling with grief as well as her new life. How can she begin to build new relationships with her friends, what does she now owe to her children, or they to her? For the first time Julia has to learn independence, she needs to discover who she is when she is no longer a wife and is now a mother to children who do not need her. As a widow can Julia find a freedom, an identity, which has never existed in her life before?

Janet McNeill is one of the great writers of the disillusions of middle age, while her wry humor and compassion builds a spare and moving world. Her perceptive and intelligent writing is honest and unflinching in its understanding of the emotional conflicts of family life and the ironies of ordinary life.

After 32 years of marriage Julia is suddenly left a widow at 56. This is a well written story of probably most women’s middle age struggle whether left a widow or not. I enjoyed this and having just turned 60, saw myself in much of it. Although I still have my husband alive and well with me, I could definitely identify with this time of life. Once the kids are grown and out on their own with their own lives, my parents having passed away in the last few years, there is a real internal struggle with ‘who I am’ now that I’m not Mildred’s daughter, and the ‘mom relationship’ so different now that the kids have grown up lives of their own. Even the grand kids are older now and don’t want to spend hours being silly on Skype with me or cry when they have to go home from my house. It’s funny the timing, because it is something I’ve had on my mind and been praying about a lot lately. How can I be useful and contribute now that most of my main ‘uses’ in life have disappeared. How do I shift gears now and maintain a full constructive life? This story was just what the doctor ordered!

There are extended family relations and relationships included and a pretty major family secret that spills out too. Kept me reading, I read it in two days. Good book! I really like McNeill’s writing. Tea at Four O’clock was wonderful too. Hoping I can find more of her books.

Reading Ireland 18

Traditional Dublin Coddle

In keeping with all things Irish during the Read Ireland/Begorrathon this month of March I thought I would share this wonderful recipe(crockpot version) with y’all! We ADORE it at our house. Friends I’ve served it to ADORED it! I think you will too! I never did take a picture of it when I cooked it so you’ll just have to run over to Cooking in Bliss to see her pictures.

Dublin Coddle

6 sausages (preferably Irish)
9 slices of thick cut bacon chopped
6 large potatoes peeled and cut in large chunks
2 carrots cut in pieces
2 medium onions sliced in rounds
1 beef stock cube

  • Add one cup of water and the beef cube to the crockpot on high, stir until it dissolves.
  • Fry bacon in a large skillet
  • Cut sausage how ever you prefer and add to frying bacon
  • Cut onions and add to frying bacon and sausages. Fry until translucent
  • Once done frying add to crockpot and top with potatoes and carrots
  • cook 4 hours on high or 8 on low

I’m American and trusting this is ‘traditional’ though cooked in a crockpot, if your Irish and do this differently leave a comment telling us how. Thanks!

I tried to read John Banville‘s The Book of Evidence this week but like his book The Sea I just couldn’t get into it! I really tried, it’s a mystery and I love mysteries. I finally just put it down and I’m not wasting anymore time. Too many books to read for this month! I see it gets lots of 5 star reviews and I was hopeful, but his writing and I just don’t gel I guess. I’m putting it back on the shelve and will try again later when I’m not constrained for time. I’m moving on to The Small Widow by Janet McNeill. I know I’ll love that one! I think I forgot to add it to my original list on my signing up. I found a whole new stack of Irish authors in my shelves yesterday too! Didn’t realize I had so many Irish authors.

Roddy Doyle: A Greyhound of a Girl, A Star Called Henry, and Paula Spencer. I had read his book The Woman Who Walks Into Doors a few years ago and loved it.

Joseph O’Connor: Star of the Sea
John Brady: A Stone of the Heart
Emma Donoghue: The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits
Frank McCourt: Tis and Angela’s Ashes
Patrick Taylor: An Irish Country Christmas, A Dublin Student Doctor and An Irish Country Girl

Hope your enjoying The Begorrathon!