Sunday, July 8, 2018

An Early Wake by Sheila Connolly - Book Review

An Early Wake by Sheila Connolly is the third book in the County Cork Mystery series. I was surprised to discover that it was the third book (didn't realise it when I bought it) because it reads like the first. Connolly gives great background so you don't feel like you've never met the characters before.

The novel is set in Leap, a small town in Cork Country, Ireland. Maura Donovan has inherited a pub from her grandmother. This was six months ago, but Maura still has a lot to learn. She interacts well with her part-time employees, even those that had been hoping for a share in the business but didn't get it.

One day a musician who had been famous a few decades back enters the pub and talk ignites of a musical reunion. Business kicks is better than the whole tourist season on the day of the music event, but the following morning Maura opens the pub to find a dead body.

One of the things I liked in An Early Wake was the use of Irish pronunciation and occasional Old Irish words, stuff like good morning and good luck. Some of those weren't translated, which was a bit hard to understand, but can easily be skipped. Irish pronunciation gives a strong feel for the novel. It had me practicing speaking like the characters a bit (don't try it out loud in public, you'll look weird).

"We've set the bird to flight and the ball to rolling and the clock to ticking. It'll be a day like no other since yer arrival."

On the flipside, I found Maura's character as difficult to believe. She repeatedly mentions that she's around 25 years old but surprisingly doesn't act like it. She doesn't have a mobile phone that takes images and is entirely unfamiliar with such technology. Throughout the book, I often felt that she was over 50 not just 25, even when she compares her age to the slightly younger police officer Sean Murphy, making him look like a kid, while she deems herself more mature as if she were his mother.

It took a long while for the death and mystery to take place, a little over 100 pages in fact. The bit at the beginning isn't boring but I picked An Early Wake for the mystery not just the background information, so I was disappointed that the "mystery" was delayed.

The characters are down to earth and likeable. They are a close community that Maura is surprised to discover she's become part of. A family she's never had. One of the things I liked was the touch of romance but that comes towards the end. I'd love to learn what happens in that area.

The mystery could use more suspects and more action. The setting, characters, background are great, but the mystery, which should be the focus of the novel, isn't. I felt it was kind of stuck in the novel.

The dialogue was shabby and often didn't reveal much. There was a TONNE of repetition, with Maura having to repeat conversations to various characters. This could have been skipped or just mentioned as "Maura repeated what Sean had told her to Mick and Jimmy" or "Maura described the situation to Mick but decided to keep the...information to herself." This over-repetition bothered me (so I'm docking 1 star because of it). Imagery was minimal, if any.

The way the music event takes off is repeated so many times in almost the same way, it was over the top annoying. Sadly this book isn't an e-book, otherwise I would have pointed out the number of time that was repeated.

An Early Wake does contain a lot of history and background on Irish music, which I found interesting. Maura has no idea about it and neither did I. But I liked seeing a few band names I recognised and had no idea were Irish.

Overall, I think An Early Wake could have been a lot stronger and more memorable. I liked the characters and the way they take care of each other, and the romance bits.

Overall rating for An Early Wake by Sheila Connelly: 2.5-3 stars. It needs more work.

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