Murder at an Irish Castle by Ellie Brannigan

Murder at an Irish Castle

Barbara’s rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Series: Irish Castle Mystery #1
Publication Date: 2/7/23
Period: Contemporary Ireland
Number of Pages: 313

This debut author did a nice job of setting up the characters and location for the series. The writing was good and she did an excellent job of making you feel Ireland and its verdant green fields while bringing the people of the countryside to life.

Rayne McGrath was celebrating her thirtieth birthday and feeling as if she had the world on a string – until someone cut the string and the world all came tumbling down around her. She lost it all – every dime in her banking account, every item in her Rodeo drive bridal shop, as well as the man she was expecting to propose. What now? Well, another loss might also bring a solution. Or will it? Her beloved uncle Nevin has died in Ireland and the estate expects her to come over to receive whatever has been left to her. Rayne’s inclination is to say no and just deal with the mess surrounding her – but her mother persuades her to go and even provides the plane tickets. Goodness, what a shock she’s going to get!

When she arrives in Ireland, she finds she is to be the owner of an actual Irish castle – which she does not want and is determined not to accept. However, the will makes it clear that if she doesn’t accept, there are dire consequences for not only the castle itself but the people who live and work at the castle as well as the village. Still, she cannot accept and move to Ireland – those folks will just have to figure out a way around the will. But then, maybe she could give it a year . . .

Rayne had made visits to the castle with her father before he passed away, so she has fond memories of some of the inhabitants, but others have also passed on before her uncle. Rayne learns she has a cousin, Ciara Smith, who is Uncle Nevin’s natural daughter. Ciara is as shocked as Rayne when she learns who inherits the castle and she definitely doesn’t plan to ‘make nice’ with Rayne.

Ciara firmly believes someone murdered her father but has no proof and no logical reasons for feeling that way – other than those ‘fey’ intuitive feelings one gets on occasion. Rayne, nor anyone else around the castle, seriously believes Ciara is correct. But, is she?

I loved the juxtaposition between Rayne and Ciara. Rayne is the typical California girl who is into high fashion, fast cars, dieting, yoga, meditation, etc. while Ciara had a hard life being raised by a single mom and then coming to work at the castle after her mom’s death. She is down-to-earth and works hard, but is a snob in some ways because she looks down on Rayne and her ‘rich American life’.

I don’t know if it was an aberration because this is the first book in the series and there had to be a lot of time spent on the character and location setup, but I didn’t really feel we spent much time on the mystery. Most of our time revolved around Rayne and her getting herself set up in Ireland as well as the conflict between Rayne and Ciara. The suspects were all mentioned for one reason or another – but – everyone was sure they couldn’t have done it. There were no red herrings and any that you thought could be a red herring were quickly proven to be one. The murder was given some thought on occasion, but there was no real time spent investigating until – voila – crime solved, criminal caught. I also thought the book was a bit draggy in places and could have used a bit of excitement. I enjoyed the read well enough and will probably try the next book in the series to see how it progresses.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Avid reader/reviewer of historical romance and historical mysteries.

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