Death on Clare Island

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Published by: Turlough, Nolan Publishing
Release Date: February 1, 2019
Pages: 232
ISBN13: 978-0960056705


Enjoy this female amateur sleuth mystery series with American Star O’Brien solving crimes in the West of Ireland…

American information broker Star O’Brien has journeyed to ruggedly beautiful Clare Island, in County Mayo, Ireland, for two reasons. One is to settle the estate of her recently deceased lover. The other is to tackle the mystery of her own existence. As owner of the Consulting Detective, Star’s accustomed to spending long hours scouring through public records and obscure databases to research mundane, un-dangerous things like divorce, adoption, and missing heirs. She’s not accustomed to dealing with freshly dead bodies.

The police say it’s a closed case. A young drug addict wandered too close to Clare Island’s famously treacherous cliffs. But Star doesn’t believe the stories she’s hearing about the young man, just as she didn’t believe it when the police dismissed her mother’s disappearance as “abandonment” when Star was only six years old.

Star puts her investigation skills to work, trying to separate truth from fiction in the testimonies of those close to the victim. Who is telling the truth and who is lying to her? The head of an anti-drug foundation? A volatile ex-lover or a besotted young art student? The restorer of the island's ruins? Then another body turns up. Can the fiercely independent Star face up to her own past, while racing to uncover the killer before she becomes the next victim?

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“As thrillers go -- this one is very good. Star, the detective, is a living character, very warm and real. The Irish setting is well defined with lots of detail. A good page turner that kept me interested and engrossed the whole time. Highly recommended!
– Frank, Amazon reader review on Death on Clare Island




Just a fifteen-minute boat ride from Roonagh on the west coast of Ireland, the towering mountain of Clare Island guards the entrance to the mouth of Clew Bay from the Atlantic Ocean. Gráinne Mhaol’s castle sits on the rocky headland at the island’s harbor. Most visitors come to view the scenery and the bottle-nose dolphins swimming in the bay. Others come to explore the archeological history, including the Cistercian Abbey where the 16th-century pirate queen is buried.

Matthew Sumner liked the five-hour walk around the island best of all: the danger of ignoring “Beware of Cliff Edges” signs that warned of falling to the rocky inlet below, the steep climb up Knockmore mountain, the view of Inisturk and Inisbofin islands from the peak, the small lakes, the potato lazybeds, and the Abbey Church. Oh, he would recommend any of the walks around Clare Island if pressed for an opinion. The shorter walks made more sense at the end of a day working in the Abbey ruins. Most of the time he selected the quickest route to the island’s harbor and hotel, where he ate his evening meal, saving the full circuit of the island for weekends. But he wanted the solitude and shadows provided by Knockmore for tonight’s excursion. He required the unobstructed view of the Atlantic Ocean.

As he made his way toward the southern side of the island, he took short strides, conserving his body movements to deflect attention. Zipping up his light jacket, he watched for small boats nearing the island, or for someone approaching him from the harbor. He was ready to slip on his stocking cap, making it difficult at a moment’s notice for anyone to identify him.

Keeping this last point foremost, he felt for the cap in his pocket. Perhaps, he thought, he should put it on now, picturing his bleached blonde shaggy hair acting as a kind of beacon. It had been a cold, dull day, and it looked like a devil of an evening. The menacing dark sky to the east foretold the storm headed for the island. He could see the whitecaps rising angrily out of the sea as they bashed onto the beach. He scanned the bog and the coastline while his fingers continued touching the cap like a monk fingering his beads.

Intuition told him he’d soon find what he sought, so he resolved to brave the wind and impending storm. It was then he spotted a lone figure, head hunched below the shoulders. His first thoughts wavered between fear and hope that tonight’s excursion would prove profitable. The person lifted a hand in salutation. Feeling a little puzzled by this, Matthew wondered why the individual he pursued would be friendly. He looked beyond the anonymous shape to the dark ocean. When he didn’t see a boat, he immediately relaxed, thinking this was an islander out for an evening walk. In the few moments it took for the person to shorten the space between them, he heard his name whispered in the wind.

“Matthew, what are you doing out in this nasty weather?”

The voice, dull and sleepy, floated in the air between them like the hypnotic sounds of the sea. Loose, black clothing draped the person’s frame, making it impossible for Matthew to discern whether it was a man or woman. His steps slowed. For in that moment, straining for a closer look, he understood too late that he had made a grave mistake. His final thoughts were of how much he wanted to live as the water choked off his breath. Then the darkness took him.