Sunday 13 May 2007

My Lady Judge by Cora Harrison

My Lady Judge
Cora Harrison

My Lady Judge

DISREGARD the dull title and duller cover, this is a fabulous thriller. It's what you might call a Brehon procedural, set in the last days of Gaelic Ireland, just before the vicious Tudor land grab began.

Investigator Mara is the only female Brehon in Ireland, running a tiny law school in the Burren and acting at the local resident magistrate.

It's the eve of Bealtaine, and everyone is going up to light the festival bonfire and drink and dance and court till dawn.

Everyone, that is, including Mara's unpleasant young assistant, the ambitious Colman. But Colman isn't what he seems: he has a thriving sideline that Mara doesn't know about...

Cora Harrison has been writing children's books for years. This is her first foray into adult thrillers, and she's on to a winner.

The book is flawed - the writer needs a great story editor to help her to sharpen her plotting, up the tension, move in a good subplot, cut the number of similar characters.

But this charming book could be the start of a million-selling series. Harrison - when she restrains her didactic impulses - tells a rattling story, and her gentle, incisively intelligent judge is a character well capable of gathering a fan following.


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