The Sting of Justice by Cora Harrison

I was handed this novel by a friend who looks out for books he knows I’ll enjoy.  My only problem is that this is book 3 in quite a large series.  And now, I’ll need to read the others.

The Sting of Justice by Cora Harrison

‘The year of 1509 had brought a golden autumn to the west of Ireland.’

Mara O’Davoren, Brehon (Judge) of the Burren, attends the funeral of a much loved local priest.  As the service ends and the party goes to leave the church through a less frequently used door, another body is discovered.  The body is of Sorley Skerrett, a wealthy silversmith, and he appears to have been stung to death by bees.  But Mara isn’t immediately convinced: Sorley Skerrett is the richest man in the kingdom, a greedy man distrusted by many, an outsider, with no shortage of people who disliked him.

So Mara O’Davoren sets out to find out more about Sorley Skerrett.  As Brehon, she runs a law school, teaching six young law scholars.  These young scholars are able to assist her in her investigation – which is just as well, because Sorley Skerret’s death is complicated by the fact that there are a number of people who might benefit from his death and it is not immediately clear who will be his heir.

Was Sorley Skerrett’s death an accident, or was it murder?

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this historical crime fiction, set in sixteenth century Ireland.  Mara is an interesting character: a woman in a powerful position, confident and capable as she draws out the information she needs to get to the truth.  This is the third novel of a series, which I read purely by chance, and I’m keen now to read the first two.  I enjoyed both the story and the setting, as well as the included snippets of the ancient laws of Ireland.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith

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4 thoughts on “The Sting of Justice by Cora Harrison

  1. I love Brother Cadfael, and one of the things that attracts me is the relative lack of anachronisms. Was this novel in that category? Do you have that requirement for historical fiction that you like?

    People vary in whether it bothers them (if they even recognize the anachronisms); I couldn’t read Diana Gabaldon because things kept sounding somehow wrong (the series is immensely popular, so I checked it out).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What a good question! Sometimes anachronism troubles me terribly, other times not at all. Of course, I know some periods of history better than others, so I don’t always recognise anachronisms. From my reading, this novel is similar to Brother Cadfael in this regard. The Diana Gabaldon series I read as romance in (various) period settings. I loved the earlier books where they were set in 18th century Scotland. I’m not a big fan of time travel outside fantasy or science fiction. My favourite historical fiction writer is the (late) Dorothy Dunnett. She has a couple of anachronisms in her work, but they were peripheral and relatively minor.

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      1. It’s very hard; some things that aren’t anachronisms sound as if they were!

        I suspect that it’s something you implied: if you like the story, you can tolerate more minor disruptions to the willing suspension of disbelief.
        However, if you’re already on the edge (and this is all personal preference, not literal ‘truth,’ whatever that might be), a couple too many even minor anachronisms, and your tolerance level is exceeded.

        Some things are objectively ‘bad’ – and people still like them, or still read them. I don’t care what people read, as long as they read.

        If some of them like my writing, so much the better for me, but if they prefer noir urban fantasy, they’re still reading ( my ignorance showing? is all UF noir?). It seems people are still reading quite a bit, regardless what the traditional publishers say.

        I aspire to write mystery, SF, and a few other things I loved as a kid. I don’t know if I’ll get around to it, but I have deep roots in a lot of popular and classic fiction, and I have discovered writing. We’ll see.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’ve not read any urban fantasy that wasn’t noir, but I don’t read a real lot of urban fantasy – yet. I think that there are a lot of people still reading but tastes are changing as are modes of delivery. In the second hand bookshop I frequent on Saturday mornings, plenty of people are buying books. Plenty of children as well. Some want classics, some want novels tied to television programs or movies, others just want a book to fill a few hours. There is so much more to choose from these days. And, to my taste, much of it is dross. But, like you, I think reading is a good thing.

        Liked by 1 person

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