Haunted Ground by Erin Hart

Title:  Haunted Ground

Author:  Erin Hart

Genre:  Mystery

Published:  April 2003 – Scribner

About:  (back of the book) When farmers cutting turf in an Irish peat bog make a grisly discovery – the perfectly preserved head of a young woman with long red hair – Irish archaeologist Cormac Maguire and American pathologist Nora Gavin must use cutting-edge techniques to preserve ancient evidence. Because the bog’s watery, acidic environment prevents decay, it’s difficult to tell how long the red-haired girl has been buried – two years, two centuries, or even much longer. Who is she? The extraordinary find leads to even more disturbing puzzles. The red-haired girl is not the only enigma in this remote corner of Galway. Two years earlier, Mina Osborne, the wife of the local landowner, went for a walk with her young son and vanished without a trace. Could they too be hidden in the bog’s treacherous depths, only to be discovered centuries from now? Or did Hugh Osborne murder his family, as some villagers suspect? Bracklyn House, Osborne’s stately home, holds many secrets, and Nora and Cormac’s inquiries threaten to expose them all.

My take:  If you’re a regular reader of this blog you know it’s rare to find a mystery review. I met Erin Hart at my city’s Irish festival in August and bought three of her books which she kindly signed for me. Haunted Ground is her first book. I loved that the setting is where my father’s family is from – County Galway. I’ve visited twice and hope I can return someday.

From page one I was drawn in as Cormac and Nora discovered clues that led to solving the mysteries. The characters intrigued me and most were under suspicion. One character I hope to see in future books is Detective Devaney. He’s the guy I’d want in my corner. He’s a regular man with regular problems and even though he was taken off the case, he can’t not see it through. As wrapped up in the case as he is, he also wants to be more involved in his family – especially his youngest daughter who has recently shown an interest in learning trad music, one of his passions.

I found the details about traditional music, archaeology and preservation, and Irish history really interesting. The importance of history and passing it on to the next generation is a theme that stood out for me.

If you enjoy a gothic mystery and an Ireland setting then you may enjoy Haunted Ground. I loved it and can’t wait to read Erin Hart’s next book.

Source:  I bought it.

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