cover image LAKE OF SORROWS


Erin Hart, . . Scribner, $24 (328pp) ISBN 978-0-7432-4796-2

Can there be too much of a good thing? Hart's second literary thriller starring pathologist Nora Gavin, set in the misty midlands and myth-laden peat bogs of County Offaly, is an Irish breakfast of a book: a kidney here, a sausage there, undeniably rich and delicious but likely to provoke indigestion unless consumed slowly. Every character is fascinating, from the depressed yet fearless and tenderly passionate Dr. Gavin, to the coldly erotic and bullying archeologist Ursula Downes, whose murder Nora helps solve nearly at the cost of her own life. The downside of Hart's talent is that there are so many beautifully realized lives in this novel—police detectives, archeologists, beekeepers, scholars, farmers, mothers—that readers will sink into the book as if it were the Loughnabrone ("Lake of Sorrows") Bog itself. Yet it's an emotionally and intellectually gorgeous descent. The many readers who grew attached to Nora and her on-again, off-again amour and sometime investigative partner, archeologist Cormac Maguire, in Haunted Ground will relish this new adventure, and eagerly await the hinted-at next volume, in which Nora seems likely to return to her native Minnesota to confront Peter Hallett, husband of her dead sister, Triona, and, Nora believes, Triona's killer. Hart's language sings, and the gothic atmosphere lingers the way peat clings to the skin of bog workers. Agent, Sally Wofford-Girand . (Oct.)