cover image The Book of Killowen

The Book of Killowen

Erin Hart. Scribner, $26 (352p) ISBN 978-1-4516-3484-6

Hart combines powerful insights into human nature and pristine prose with history and archeology in her stellar fourth crime novel featuring Irish archeologist Cormac Maguire and American pathologist Nora Gavin (after 2010’s False Mermaid). When the bog-preserved but dismembered and stabbed body of a ninth-century monk is found with the body of Benedict Kavanagh—the host of an intellectual TV chat show who’s been missing for months—in the trunk of a car excavated from a Tipperary bog, Nora and Cormac investigate on the behalf of Ireland’s National Museum. The pair, working in parallel with local detective Stella Cusack, look into landowner Vincent Claffey and the residents of the artists’ colony at Killowen, a tight-knit community of individuals with hidden pasts and strong motivations to protect themselves. Hart teases the reader with hints without telegraphing the solutions to the mysteries a moment too soon. This exploration of the ways people keep secrets, innocuous and terrible, to create sanity out of difficult pasts, offers food for thought that persists beyond the immediate thrill of a well-told tale. Agent: Sally Wofford-Girand, Brickhouse Literary Agents. (Mar.)