As 1995 dawns in the North of Ireland, Belfast is a city of army patrols, bombed-out buildings, and “peace walls” segregating one community from the other. But the IRA has called a ceasefire. So, it’s as good a time as any for Monty Collins and Father Brennan Burke to visit the city: Monty to do a short gig in a law firm, and Brennan to reconnect with family. And it’s a good time for Brennan’s cousin Ronan to lay down arms and campaign for election in a future peacetime government.
But the past is never past in Belfast, and it rises up to haunt them all: a man goes off a bridge on a dark, lonely road; a rogue IRA enforcer is shot; and a series of car bombs remains an unsolved crime. The trouble is compounded by a breakdown in communication: Brennan knows nothing about the secrets in a file on Monty’s desk. And Monty has no idea what lies behind a late-night warning from the IRA. With a smoking gun at the center of it all, Brennan and Monty are on a collision course and will learn more than they ever wanted to know about what passes for law in 1995 Belfast. An inscription on a building south of the Irish border says it all: “Let justice be done though the heavens fall.”
What members say
I May Be Done With This Series
I am torn and frustrated after reading this book. Other than serious issues with a particular child character in the Collins-Burke mystery series by Emery, I have really enjoyed the series and fell a little in love with the very damaged, and very human priest, Brendon Burke. Monty Collins is there primarily for Burke to have a reason, as a priest, to be involved in solving mysteries. And this book focuses on Burke. Another plus is it takes place in Ulster near the end of the Troubles, a fascinating time. Plus, this book like the other book in the series set in Ireland instead of Nova Scotia is narrated by my favorite narrator, Gerard Doyle. I should have loved it. But I didn't.
The first three-quarters of the book deals with both the Collins family and Burke relocating to Ireland temporarily for work. There are a couple of plot lines going along, one that deals directly with the Troubles and one that deals indirectly with the Troubles. There are hints along the way that there is a connection but it isn't clear.
Then the last quarter of the book has an abrupt and surprising, at least to me, swerve in the plot and from there it goes downhill fast. A catastrophe occurs and neither Burke nor Collins handle it rationally in the way you would expect the characters to handle it. It is as if the characters and the relationship they've built over the previous 8 or 9 books suddenly takes an abrupt left turn and everything goes wrong. And that is how it ends. I think this is the first time Emery has ended a book with a cliffhanger. And it is a bad one. One that even if it is resolved in the next book, everything has to change and the characters can't believably go back to what they were before. I am usually OK with characters evolving and changing as a series progresses and OK with bad things happening to characters I care about. But this was jarring and seemed unnecessary. And the characters didn't handle the crisis or the clues leading up to it in a way they have in previous books.
Even though I know realistically that I will probably read the next book, if only to see how she fixes the mess, a big part of me is so frustrated by the end of this book, I'd like to drop the series.
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