Cover Image: Murder in the Cathedral

Murder in the Cathedral

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Member Reviews

A captivating and highly entertaining new Mother Reverend Mystery set in Cork during the 20's. 

Two prominent religious dignitaries and a young choir boy are murdered by poison. A complex enquiry into the motives behind those heinous acts is launched by the Garda with the help of the Reverend Mother....

A dark and menacing plot full of twists and turns fraught with dangerous surprises, a delightful cast and an ending that left me totally gobsmacked turned  this "religious whodunit" into a delightful reading experience from start to finish!

Many thanks to Severn House and Netgalley for this terrific ARC
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Cora Harrison continues her mysteries set in Cork in Murder in the Cathedral.  A Protestant Archdeacon and a poor bastard with a beautiful voice are both poisoned with cyanide, the first from poisoned sweets the latter  out of the church chalice.  The Archdeacon was misliked for various uncharitable activities.  Enda, the poor young singer, was well liked and mourned.  How did it happen?  The garda in Cork and the Reverend Mother set out to find the perpetrator.  Very satisfying and surprising ending.
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This series about the wise and caring Reverend Mother and her ex-students, policeman Patrick and journalist and law student Eileen in 1920s Cork is a favourite of mine. They are all lovely characters, and I enjoy reading about the political and religious background of Cork, which was apparently poverty-stricken in those days. You don't need to read these books from the beginning of the series, because you can easily catch up with the characters' personal lives.
This story involves the poisoning of a little boy and the Protestant archdeacon. There are various suspects, and the case has many twists and turns. Cora Harrison deals with the conflicts and misunderstandings between the Catholics and Protestants extremely well,  Eileen's thinking that the Catholics are more moral sometimes got on my nerves, but was understandable. Eileen is a very 'feminist' and likeable character otherwise, ambitious and concerned about changing things for the better in Cork. 

The Reverend Mother and another character, a priest, in this book are quite learned, and I liked the references to Shakespeare, and the Latin quotations.

I received this free ebook from NetGalley in return for an honest review.
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Cora Harrison's historical mystery are always well written and gripping but my favourites are those featuring the Reverend Mother as they're solid mystery but also the vivid and well researched portrait of Cork after the Irish Indipendence.
There's the very rich, the very poor, there's political unrest and indipendentist. The Reverend Mother is an exceptional character, a strong and clever woman who can deal with people from any social class.
This book starts with a bang and kept me turning pages and guessing.
An excellent book: gripping and fascinating.
Highly recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine
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I reviewed this book for  the November issue of Historical Novels Review, the magazine of the Historical Novel Society.  I cannot post a review online until it is published on their website on November 1st.  I will update this review then.
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Two deaths! 

A young Catholic boy, Enda O’Sullivan, who sang like an angel and lied like with a straight face even as he once “tumbled a stall in the market once and tried to to persuade [Inspector Patrick Cashman] that it was a dog that had done it. Even though his mouth was full of cake and his pockets bulging with more.”
And an archdeacon of the Anglican Church in Ireland. Who would want them dead. Reverend Mother Aquinas is concerned that this child from the slums was thrown out like so much trash. Patrick is concerned because he has a list of suspects that seem on one hand likely, and on the other not at all.
As Patrick investigates further he uncovers a lot about the ‘man who would be king’ (the archdeacon), none of it good. In fact he was ambitious for the job of the Bishop, he lied, cheated and blackmailed. Who would not want him to go, on the other hand who was going to risk all to do so?
Eileen is out investigating, and runs into some information, but again is this enough?
A nicely written locked door mystery that surprises at the very end. Fascinating, as the Reverend Mother’s insights throw light on the murders.
I was interested by the economic divide between the Catholics and Protestants, the children of the ‘slums’ for whom a sweet is a treat, and a packet of ‘rolls’ manna from heaven. 
The pay comparisons between the clergy of the two faiths are suggestive. The lower end of the Protestant clergy being underpaid so that often only those who have a private income enter the church. There’s very little sense of calling. For the Catholics there are some similarities although not the emphasis on money. 
The thing that’s obvious is that in the Ireland of this time, this becomes a dangerous case.

A Severn House ARC via NetGalley.                                              
Many thanks to the author and publisher.
Please note: Quotes taken from an advanced reading copy maybe subject to change
(Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.)
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Although this is the 9th in the series it’s my first read and read well as a stand-alone.   Set in 1820’s Cork, Ireland the main protagonist, and amateur detective, is Reverend Mother Aquinas who is investigating this case alongside Inspector Patrick Cashman and law student Eileen MacSwiney.  Well written and plotted story with interesting historical facts that made disturbing reading. 

Briefly, when seven-year-old Enda O’Sullivan, one of the Rev. Mother’s pupils, and the cathedral's archdeacon, Dr Hearn, are both found dead in the Church of Ireland cathedral St Fin Barre’s it is soon discovered that they were both poisoned. Further investigation reveals that Hearn was not a popular man and there are a number of potential suspects. But who would want to kill a child?  The Rev. Mother makes some startling and shocking discoveries as she investigates. 

There is a lot of narrative about the Protestant/Catholic divide, not just religious but the social divide, specifically the living conditions and the slums.  This made me go and read up a bit more about this as my knowledge of the level of poverty at this time in Ireland was sadly lacking.  A good read and I would certainly visit this series again.
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Way back when I was in college, a history professor taught that we could discuss any historical event by covering the social, political, cultural, religious, and economic causes. No, a murder mystery doesn’t hinge on those causes. However, I appreciate Cora Harrison’s Reverend Mother Mysteries because they include all those essential elements in the background as she covers mysteries in the 1920s in Cork, Ireland. Murder in the Cathedral has a clever, very appropriate solution, although I welcome all those elements in an excellent historical mystery. They add realism to the background of the story.

Reverend Mother Aquinas is surprised to receive a visit from the Bishop of Cork’s Anglican Church of Ireland on Christmas Day. Dr. Thompson has the unhappy task of telling her about one of her students. The archdeacon of the church died during the Christmas Day service. It was only as they ended the service and sent everyone home that they found the body of seven-year-old Ende O’Sullivan. Dr. Scher, the police surgeon, suspected they were both poisoned by cyanide.

Inspector Patrick Cashman, one of Reverend Mother’s former students, suspects that Ende was a tool for the archdeacon’s death. There was a broken window, and Patrick believes Ende scampered across the roof, through the broken window, dropped poison in the archdeacon’s chalice, and then, as a reward for his actions, received a packet of chocolate candy. Ende, a poor little boy with a single mother, ate the chocolate immediately, chocolate that had cyanide in it.

None of this is a spoiler. That’s the opening of Murder in the Cathedral. It’s not a spoiler to say Patrick has very few suspects, really just the primary employees of the church. But, it’s a difficult case, and it takes a few hints from a former fellow student, Eileen MacSwiney, now a law student; and it takes Reverend Mother’s ingenuity, to put together all the clues. Over the course of this series, Reverend Mother Aquinas has seen some tragic deaths. “There was something about the callous use of a small boy that made this one of the worst crimes that she had known, in this city full of death from violence and from deprivation.”

While it’s Patrick’s job to satisfy the politics of his job and discover who killed the archdeacon, neither Patrick nor the Reverend Mother let go of the forgotten murder. Who killed a young boy?

Murder in the Cathedral is the ninth book in the series. It’s a dark series set at a time of poverty, death, and turmoil in Cork. Earlier books in the series deal with the IRA at times. It features a woman who has witnessed both aspects of the economic divide, growing up in wealth, and then serving the poor of Cork. Reverend Mother Aquinas’ knowledge of people of all classes offer her the glimpses at life that enable her to see solutions that are not easily discovered. It’s a remarkable historical series.
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I didn't realise this was a series and so I read it as a standalone and I really enjoyed it, it has made me want to read the rest of the series. Well written with a good level of mystery
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Who would poison an archdeacon?  Or, worse, a seven year old child?  And on Christmas!  That's the question the Reverend Mother must answer with the assistance of Detective Patrick Cashman. Dr. Hearn had enemies but they might not be who you think.  Harrison, as always in this series, does a wonderful job with the small things about 1920s Cork and the various religious tensions.  And, as good as the mystery is, the characters, especially Reverend Mother, Patrick, and Eileen are equally well crafted.  Thanks to netgalley for the ARC.  Don't worry if you haven't read the earlier books- this will be fine as a standalone.
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‘Murder in the Cathedral’ by Cora Harrison is a fascinating historical mystery set in Cork, Ireland in the 1920s. When the archdeacon of the protestant Cathedral dies suddenly, and one of the Reverend Mother’s own flock is found dead nearby, the sleuthing nun feels compelled to unravel the mystery. Why was young Enda even in the church? And what secrets are being kept by those allied to to the church? The Reverend Mother unravels the layers of deception and intrigue, finding that people are not always all that they seem.

I found the historical aspects of the story as fascinating as the mystery itself. The author gave a very interesting insight into Irish society after the civil war . Once they were a free state, the two communities had to learn to live together within a different power dynamic.  The Anglo Irish were no longer in control and that made for some interesting interactions. The story was about a country learning to live with a new reality. A new order. About two communities living in parallel . It was also about poverty and secrets. Cora Harrison has managed to weave all of this into well-written and immersive mystery. I loved it.

I was given this ARC to review.
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Who murdered a senior cleric, and also tragically a 7 year old waif?  One of the best entries in this quietly compelling series, set in Cork, Ireland in the mid 1920's after the Irish Civil War.  Once again it can easily be read as a stand alone as the relationships and history between the recurring regular main characters are gently explained. The position of the wordly-wise Reverend Mother and the two Bishops of Cork - one Protestant and one Catholic - is well delineated without any danger of a good old fashioned murder mystery turning into a religious diatribe. And the Reverend Mother needs to work out the identity of the murderer herself, amidst complex family histories, in order to point her two proteges, young policeman Patrick and rising journalist-cum-lawyer Eileen towards the solution. A quiet, reflective and satisfying mystery set amongst the socially divided have and have nots of Cork post First War and Civil War.
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‘Something terrible has happened.’

Cork, Ireland. The Christmas festivities of Reverend Mother Aquinas are interrupted when the Protestant bishop, Dr Thompson, (‘Not the real bishop’, according to the novice who tracked the Reverend Mother down) calls on her. He brings the sad news that one of the Reverend Mother’s pupils, seven-year-old Enda O’Sullivan has been found dead in St Fin Barre’s Cathedral.  Police Inspector Cashman and the police surgeon, Dr Scher, are already present: the cathedral’s archdeacon, Dr Hearn, dropped dead during the middle of the church service.  While it is suspected that Dr Hearn had a heart attack, Dr Scher thinks that Enda was poisoned.

Quite quickly it becomes clear that both Enda and Dr Hearn were poisoned. But why, and by whom?  Could Enda have been part of an elaborate plot to murder the archdeacon? The Reverend Mother is drawn into solving this mystery, together with her former pupils Inspector Patrick Cashman and Eileen MacSwiney (currently studying law). 

Ms Harrison brings Cork in the 1920s to life, with her depictions of the divide between Protestants and Catholics, both religious and economic. The Reverend Mother’s investigations lead her to other uncomfortable discoveries as well. It seems that Dr Hearn was not popular, and several people may have had a motive to kill him. And what of Enda O’Brien? His mother is devastated. Yes, the crime will be solved but not before several possibilities are explored.

Ms Harrison is a prolific author and I have read and enjoyed ten of her novels across different series. I hope, one day, to read them all.

Note: My thanks to NetGalley and Severn House for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes. 

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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Mother Superior solves the murder of a Church of Ireland archbishop in Cora Harrison’s newest mystery.
Reverend Mother is called to the cathedral on Christmas morning when the body of one of her young students is found shortly after the archbishop dies from drinking cyanide-laced communion wine. The nimble urchin apparently was bribed with cyanide-laced chocolates to drop into the cathedral after hours and pour cyanide into the chalice.
Who would want the archbishop dead? Just about everyone who knew him, Reverend Mother discovers as she works to solve the case with her two former students, one a police investigator and the other a law student freelancing with a newspaper.
Dr. Sher, the doctor who performs forensics, helps with the case. Lucy, Reverend Mother’s cousin, stops by for a good gossip to explain how the Protestants are different from the Catholics.
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I follow Cora Harrison's Reverend Mother Aquinas mysteries and this latest #MurderintheCathedral is a satisfying read.  Two deaths are discovered on Christmas day at the large cathedral associated with the Protestant Church of Ireland.  The wealthy and unpopular archdeacon Dr Hearn was poisoned and there are a number of people that benefit from his death.  Also poisoned is a troublesome seven-year old Edna O'Sullivan raised by an isolated single mother.  The two persons have little in common but the investigation reveals that the child was used by the murderer to deliver the poison.

The Reverend Mother  works with her strong network - Dr Thompson, her cousin Lucy, and the former students that she is holds dear: Inspector Patrick Cashman and  Elileen.  Eileen is now studying law and flourishing.  Patrick Cashman has risen in the police force and a speedy and satisfying conclusion to these high profile deaths would help him advance. 

#MurderintheCathedral introduces us to the isolated enclaves of Protestant privilege as the Reverend Mother, Eileen and Patrick search for who benefits from the archdeacon's death.  The sharp differences among the classes is an important part of #MurderintheCathedral.  Patrick, Eileen and the Reverend Mother deliver a satisfying conclusion to the two murders.
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Atmospheric, Engaging…
Another worthy addition to the Reverend Mother historical mystery series and the ninth in this series, which finds the Reverend Mother’s Christmas Day festivities rudely disrupted. There has been a tragedy. A young boy has been murdered in the Cathedral, but why? Is it part of some deeper, elaborate plot? The Reverend Mother is soon to be drawn into an unfathomable mystery. With a compelling plot, well researched historical commentary, credible characters and solid sense of time and place, this is an atmospheric and engaging mystery with a well depicted and amenable amateur sleuth.
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The Reverend Mother mystery series is always a favorite and this year I really knew, as I had three review books,(all favorite authors) at one time but read this one until it was done.
What a story and truly a great ending, although I was thinking and hoping, that Eileen and Det.Inspector Patrick Cashman would be getting closer together. It does look close- hoping for at least one more book!  

The background story is that Reverend Mother Aquinas ( Dotty to her close cousin who was raised with her) had become a nun and had run St.Mary's of the Isle School in wartorn Cork for many years. 

Eileen Macswiney, in law school, and Detective Inspector Patrick Cashman, who both grew up without a father and poor on Barrack street were a large part of solving this double murder. They were the Reverend Mother's pride and joy, when at 4 years old and 7 were her students. They were almost surrogate children to her and they both helped to solve this one, Church of Ireland prelate and a poor 7 year old. 

I've said this before but:"my great Uncle Patrick Faunt and family lived in that part of Cork at that exact time..well Uncle Patrick died in 1907, his son in 1913 and his wife and daughter in 1921 but his granddaughters were still living at Little Cross Street in Cork" ..close to all this action and IRA activity.
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Murder in the Cathedral is the 9th book in a series by Cora Harrison.  This is also the first book that I have read by Harrison.  The setting is 1920s Cork, Ireland, and the female protagonist is the Revenant Mother, who works with a local policeman to help solve the murders.  

In Murder in the Cathedral the victims include a member of the church clergy and a 7 year old boy.  Readers learn early on that both victims have been poisoned.  There are many possible perpetrators.  The archdeacon was not universally well liked. The child seems to be collateral damage, although as readers quickly learn, the child has been used to help bring about the archdeacon's murder.  I do not want to provide spoilers.

The mystery was a good one, with a great many red herrings. Although this book should download to my kindle, in fact it would not.  I received several messages about the format not being correct to use with kindle.  Fortunately I have an iPad was able to download this book to my NetGalley app.  I want to thank the author and publisher, Severn House, and imprint of Canongate Books, for providing this ARC.  And thank you to NetGalley for suggesting this author.
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