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Tuesday, 4 June 2013
‘Chain of Evidence’ by Cora Harrison
Harrison’s series about Brehon Mara in 16th century Ireland has reached its ninth volume with this book. I really enjoy them and like to see returning characters but I think it would be enjoyable even if you had not read the previous books. The story is complete in each book.
Mara is a Brehon (lawyer and judge) in her community in the Burren and she trains future lawyers in her school. The knowledge that Cora Harrison has of the period in Ireland is encyclopaedic and she makes the landscape and attitudes very visible for the reader. Her characters are memorable and include all ages. In this book Mara considers the death of a clan leader which may be accidental or could be murder - he was apparently trampled to death by a herd of cows. Mara’s investigation is carried out against considerable odds as the body has been moved and stripped before she sees it and there are various individuals who put obstacles in her way. She pursues her usual method of discussing all possibilities with her scholars so that they can learn to apply their theoretical knowledge to a real situation. The differences between these laws and the rougher ones of their counterparts in the rest of Europe is marked. The presence of Englishman Stephen Gardiner in this book reminds us of the danger to old Irish ways from the English under King Henry VIII. Despite the obstacles Mara successfully discovers what has happened, partly by applying the law and partly by using her knowledge of human nature.
Jennifer. S. Palmer
As stated above there are eight previous 16th century Burren mysteries - the first one is My Lady Judge. Cora Harrison also writes the London Murder Mysteries for children and has published other children’s books.
Jennifer Palmer Throughout my reading life crime fiction has been a constant interest; I really enjoyed my 15 years as an expatriate in the Far East, the Netherlands & the USA but occasionally the solace of closing my door to the outside world and sitting reading was highly therapeutic. I now lecture to adults on historical topics including Famous Historical Mysteries.