More unusual in this case are the dead girl’s satin gown, belongings, and identity. After her less-than-distraught father identifies her, the Reverend Mother knows something’s not right. Tellingly, Angelina Fitzsimon would have received a significant inheritance if only she’d lived a few months longer.
The investigating sergeant from the newly formed civic guard, Patrick Cashman, happens to be the Reverend Mother’s former pupil, and they both dismiss the prevailing theory of suicide. Identifying with the young woman, “a girl from a privileged background like her own… a daughter of one of the rich merchant families of Cork,” Mother Aquinas decides to apply the intellectual skills granted her by God to finding answers.
What unfolds is a superbly crafted mystery that makes fine use of its locale and the diverse characters living there: the moneyed elite who attend the annual Merchants’ Ball, lecturers from the University College, and the energetic young people who fight for Ireland’s future by joining the illegal Republican Party.
There’s a delightful irony about the fact that, as a nun working amid Cork’s lower classes, the Reverend Mother is better versed in her world’s realities than most. A caring woman in her seventies, and of a practical frame of mind, she has the chops to see justice done. When she guesses one major clue before anyone else, she quietly revels in her triumph, and readers will too.
A Shameful Murder was published by Severn House in July ($28.95 hardcover, $14.49 Kindle, 256pp). Thanks to the publisher for granting my access via NetGalley. This is my last review for the year. See you in 2016!