Verdict of the Court: A mystery set in sixteenth-century Ireland (A Burren Mystery)

Written by Cora Harrison
Review by Mary F. Burns

In the latest in the chronicles of medieval Irish judge—”Brehon”—Mara, she keeps up the pace of the previous books in suspense, action, and thoughtful application of the deeply ethical and philosophical law that was the rule in Ireland for many centuries before the subjection of Ireland by the English. Mara is married to one of the greater small kings of the time, and this book opens with Christmas celebrations at the principal court of the king, to which Mara has brought along her usual collection of students. But the holiday turns dire when the court’s long-time—and not well-beloved—Brehon is found dead at the feast—murdered. Suspects abound, and in the heat of the investigation, rumors fly that the castle is about to be attacked. The siege and battle scenes are exceptionally exciting, and I’m not a great one for such things, but I was enthralled. Mara faces her greatest ethical conundrum when the actions of her husband, King Turlough Dunn, require her to bring him to judgment in the eyes of the law. A fascinating, continuing look at the heritage of the Irish in law and culture.