I read my first book from Anne Emery a few years ago, it was called Barrington Street Blues, and featured Monty Collins, the lawyer/bluesman who also makes an appearance in Death at Christy Burke’s, her most recent novel. Emery’s latest also features Father Brennan Burke, a character who makes a few appearances in her other books, as well as fellow priest Michael O’Flaherty.
What I enjoyed most about this book, and what I think is most memorable about it is the fact that it has two different detectives on the case (Brennan and Michael), both having very different ‘investigating’ styles and personalities. Monty helps out when needed, but his character had a much smaller role in this particular book. Quite honestly, I think two or more investigators were necessary, because the plot itself is quite complicated, with many other people frequently coming in and out of the story. Does this complement, or take away from the overall book? It depends what kind of a reader you are; some people like a straightforward storyline that they don’t have to stop and think about while reading, others don’t mind sinking their teeth into something complicated. If you can keep numerous character’s names and meandering story lines straight while still enjoying what you’re reading, this book is definitely for you.
Death at Christy Burke’s also provides a solid lesson on the history of Ireland and the way it affects the current politics there. Keep in mind this book does take place in 1992, but to someone who is wholly ignorant of the situation over there, 1992 is just as good as 2013 for filling in the blanks. The cause of the IRA was the main focus of the plot, and I’ll admit I hoped for a bit more information on the motivations of the agitators as the perspective was a bit one-sided, but Emery bravely demonstrated that not all people aligned themselves with either side-the younger generation, as well as the clerical contingent simply wanted the violence to end, as it had been going on for so long. Some readers may already be aware of the issues between the Catholic and Protestant religions in Ireland, but this book provides a brief yet thorough history of the conflict, so I recommend reading it for that reason alone.
Anne Emery is great writer, and I want to make sure that’s clear in this review. Many mystery authors have a very dedicated following, and I hope that Emery also enjoys the same. Her returning characters are fun to read about and well developed, so she deserves every bit of attention she gets. It’s obvious ECW believes in her, as they’ve published all of her books in this series, (6 in total, with another on the way in November). So, if you want to discover a new series of mysteries with some depth, I recommend this book and Emery’s others.