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Monday, June 23, 2014

Haunted Ground (Nora Gavin #1) by Erin Hart



Haunted Ground (Nora Gavin, #1)

Summary:
 
A dazzling debut -- already an international publishing sensation -- combining forensics, history, archaeology, and suspense.
Introducing Erin Hart, who brings the beauty, poignancy, mystery, and romance of the Irish countryside to her richly nuanced first novel.

When farmers cutting turf in a peat bog make a grisly discovery -- the perfectly preserved severed head of a young woman with long red hair -- Irish archaeologist Cormac Maguire and American pathologist Nora Gavin team up in a case that will open old wounds.

Peat bogs prevent decay, so the decapitated young woman could have been buried for two decades, two centuries, or even much longer. Who is she? When was she killed? The extraordinary find leads to even more disturbing puzzles. The red-haired girl is clearly a case for the archaeologists, not the police. Still, her tale may have shocking ties to the present, and Cormac and Nora must use cutting-edge techniques to preserve ancient evidence.

And the red-haired girl is not the only enigma in this remote corner of Galway. Two years earlier, Mina Osborne, the local landowner's Indian-born wife, went for a walk with her young son and never returned. Did Mina simply decide to disappear, or did mother and child become lost in the treacherous bog? Could they, too, be hidden in its depths, only to be discovered centuries from now? Or did the landowner, Hugh Osborne, murder his family, as some villagers suspect?

Bracklyn House, Osborne's stately home, holds many secrets for Nora and Cormac and policeman Garrett Devaney. But time is running out. Devaney's superiors want him off the Osborne case. Now. He wants to stay and find a killer.

Meticulously crafted and resonating with traditional music and folklore, "Haunted Ground" celebrates Ireland's turbulent history, revealing the eternal, subliminal connections between past and present in a riveting novel that heralds the arrival of a bright new crime-writing star.
Summary & Cover taken from Goodreads.com
Length: 328 pages (Length)
Available Formats: Print/E-book/Audio
Publication Date: April 29th 2003 by Scribner Book Company
 
Back in 2011 I had Mr. Turning the Pages try this one out since when he does read, he likes mysteries and he wanted to try something new, and he liked it a lot so I finally stopped dragging my feet and gave it a try earlier this year.
 
Before I read this book I had no idea how common bog bodies were. I'd heard of them, but thought they were so rare that I was surprised to find out there was more out there than I thought. I thought it was fascinating how Nora came to Ireland to study bodies like that and ended up getting herself wrapped up in an investigation into a decapitated head, and the mystery shrouding the disappearance of a young mother and toddler 5 years before so there was very much a mystery within a mystery for this one because the two seemed unconnected in the beginning but in the end they each helped solve the other crimes.
 
Nora was an excellent character and I really enjoyed getting to know her and her back story. I thought she was a strong character and I'm always a fan of an archaeologist in a mystery since I always wanted to be one. It was nice to read a mystery novel where the main character was not only smart, and strong but didn't use her looks to get what she wanted. She didn't act like she knew everything, and her lack of arrogance was refreshing because she didn't act like she had something to prove.  I appreciated the kindness she showed Hugh Osborne's "nephew" and one of the elderly women she encountered.
 
I also really liked Cormac, the pathologist. He was a bit arrogant but in a quite way which kind of makes him be at odds with himself at times. He had a brilliant mind as well and I enjoyed very much how he and Nora played off each others strengths while excepting each other's weaknesses. His approach to the decapitated head and the missing persons case was interesting and seeing him work through it all was a treat.
 
My favourite part of the book though was the setting. When I was 17 I spent three glorious weeks in the Republic of Ireland and many of the towns, and major landmarks were familiar to me and made me nostalgic which I loved. The descriptiveness of the land made me smell the rich clean air, and I could see the many shades of green in the hills that the island is known for. I felt like I was back in Ireland which was a gift for me.
 
While I suspected who was responsible for the disappearance of Osborne's wife and son, the author through in some great plot twists that made me change my mind at least twice before Nora and Cormac solved it and then everything fell into place just so. I also really enjoyed how the mystery behind the decapitated woman was solved, because while she was fictional, I did feel sorry for her.
 
I thought Haunted Ground was a very strong debut and I enjoyed the author's writing quite a bit. I do wish that is had moved a little faster in a couple of parts but that was my only true issue with the novel. I liked the twists and turns the author employed to keep me busy, and really enjoyed getting to know Nora and Gavin and can't wait to see where she takes these characters in the next book.
 
If you're looking for a good archaeological mystery set in Ireland, I highly recommend this one, but I would also recommend it to readers just getting into the mystery genre who don't want a cozy mystery but don't want a lot of blood and violence. If you're a mystery fan though, I don't think you'll want to miss the gem set on the Emerald Isle.

Really Liked It!
★★★★
 
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https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/905451.Haunted_Ground
 
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16 comments:

  1. Oh! I love how the story took you back to your time in Ireland. I absolutely love it whenever stories can transport you away from the real world for a few hours. For that reason alone, I'm adding this one to my TBR! :)

    Kristen @ Pretty Little Pages

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    1. Yay! I hope you like it Kristen, be prepared for that mental trip to Ireland :)

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  2. Oh Kimberly Erin is one of my very favorite mystery authors and this series is FAB!!
    Great review

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    1. I'm glad to have found another fan of Erin's :) I can't wait to start book two

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  3. This sounds terrific - I will have to try it when i can squeeze it in. (That may be a while, darn it!)

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  4. I have really enjoyed this book! I think I have the next one on my TBR.

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    1. I meant to get to the 2nd one last month but had to put it on hold, I'm glad you liked this one too Katherine :)

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  5. It was a great book. I enjoyed it a lot. Im glad you did to baby

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    1. Thanks Babe, glad I took your advice and read it. If I like the second you should read it too.

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  6. Now, this is one I know I would enjoy..the whole plot intrigued me from the mystery to the research. Glad you stopped dragging your feet so it could end up on my wishlist.

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    1. Thanks Kimberly, I love when a book I'm a little nervous about turns out so well.

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  7. I picked this one up at the library a while ago, but didn't get a chance to read it before it was due. It's still on my wish list though!

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    1. Yay! It's a goodie so I hope the next time you grab it you read it, I know all to well about borrowing and bringing things back unread.

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  8. I read it many years ago and still have a very good memory of it, I loved it then. I should check out this author... Thanks for the review - and the reminding !

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    1. You're welcome! She's up to 4 books in the series now and the others sound pretty darn amazing too.

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