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The Deadly Weed

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Member Reviews

Reverend Mother is busy with death in Cork, Ireland, in the 1920's in The Deadly Weed. A teenager is in jail as suspect in the death of a workman at a cigarette factory fire. Reverend Mother got her assistants a policeman, a relative and a journalist to investigate and details of the factory fire are very murky. Who is responsible? Possible suspects widen to the whistleblower, an elderly busybody, and a relative of Reverend Mother.

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Reverend Mother's mystery are always as a treat as they feature a strong and clever nun sleuthing and a realistic description of Cork at the beginning of the Twenties.
There's a lot of social remarks, a solid mystyer, and there's a gripping and atmospheric story that kept me hooked and I thoroughly enjoyed.
Highly recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher for this arc, all opinions are mine

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It has been a while, but I read mysteries by Cora Harrison in the past. I was a huge fan of her historical Burren mysteries and especially the main character Mara, Brehon of the Burren. Which explains why I got very excited when I discovered The Deadly Weed on Netgalley and why I didn’t hesitate before requesting the book.

Like The Burren Mysteries, the Reverend Mother series is set in the past. But, while the Burren stories take place centuries ago, the Reverend Mother investigates during the first quarter of the last century at a time when WW I and the Irish War of Independence were still fresh in everybody’s mind and Ireland was struggling to make the transition from occupied land to independent nation.

The Reverend Mother lives and works close to Cork’s harbour in an area of great poverty and deprivation. She runs a school for children from the poorest areas of Cork in an effort to give them a start in life and an opportunity to lift themselves out of the abject poverty they were born into. When a relative of hers opens a cigarette factory in Cork and needs employees with nimble fingers, the Reverend Mother is delighted when she manages to secure a job for six of her former pupils. Her delight turns to deep concern when, after the factory is set alight and the overseer dies from smoke inhalation, one of those girls is accused of setting the fire and causing the death.

Officially the crime is being investigated by Patrick Cashman, also a former pupil of the Reverend Mother’s. He finds his efforts hampered by politics and even the assistance of Eileen MacSweeney, another successful ‘graduate’ from the Reverend Mother’s school does little except deepen his worry that he has sent a young girl to prison for a crime she didn’t commit.

In the end, it is up to the Reverend Mother to figure out what happened and why even if it means digging into her own family’s past.

I enjoyed this book and for once I’m not sure if it is the mystery or the surrounding story I enjoyed most. The mystery was more than intriguing enough to keep my interest and the solution was both satisfying and plausible. What’s more, the clues were there for the (astute) reader to pick up on and I am happy to say that I was more than halfway there myself when the solution was presented.

The historical setting, the ins and outs of convent life, the descriptions of the Cork slums, and the insight into the emergence of the Irish police force (the Garda) intrigued me as much as the mystery though. It is at times hard to believe that only 100 years ago Ireland was at the start of its journey as an independent country, and the descriptions in this book brought the situation at the time into full and at times horrific focus.

This is not a thrill-a-minute sort of story. In fact, there didn’t seem to be a lot of urgency to solving of this crime, and there weren’t any hard-stopping moments or confrontational scenes. The quiet pace of this story and the thoughtful manner in which the Reverend Mother dealt with both this crime and her day-to-day activities seemed to fit the setting and her character perfectly. The cast of secondary characters was delightful because it featured personas both from the top and from the bottom layers of society. The writing in this book is beautiful and the details shared are wonderfully balanced with dialogue and descriptions.

As I said at the start, it has been some time since I last read a Cora Harrison book. I won’t wait as long before I pick up another title by her this time around.

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There is nothing better than historical mysteries, and when I saw this one by a new author to me, I could not wait to read!

Set in Ireland in the 1920's this is a different setting and characters that really drew me in. It left me wanting to go back and start at the beginning and go forward!!

Not to be missed and only wanting more!

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Who killed the nasty manager of the cigarette factory on dank and foggy St Mary's Island in Cork? Was it the feisty young fourteen-year old girl who worked there, and left late at night? Was it the gardener whose daughter the manager allegedly raped? Time is running short, and the wise Reverend Mother and Patrick, a young detective need to solve the mystery, and try to help young Maureen from languishing in jail for life, or even hanging.

This is another riveting and well-written mystery by Cora Harrison. The Reverend Mother with her concern for her students and her desire to help the poor people in Cork is an engaging character. Patrick, an ambitious man who was once a barefoot, scarcely-fed lad,, is also a sympathetic character, who needs to raise his confidence to get promoted. There wasn't that much of Eileen in this one, a young law student who works on the paper to earn money, but she is also charming.

Historical details about Ireland in the 1920s and the Reverend Mother's thoughts and quotations also make Cora Harrison's mysteries enjoyable. If you like cosy historical mysteries with some wise philosophy attached, then you are sure to like this series.

I received this free ebook from NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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A fire in a tobacco factory in 1920s Cork sets off a deeper investigation, especially after 14 year old Maureen is arrested. Reverend Mother, although told not to investigate, does of course and she uncovers some bad things have been going on (of course). Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC. It's a quick and entertaining piece of historical fiction which, although the latest in the long running series, will be fine as a standalone.

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My library doesn't purchase most popular genre fiction so I indicated that we would not purchase it. This series remains very strong! The character development for Eileen and Patrick is really one of the highlights.

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Ahead Of The Pack..
The tenth entry in the Reverend Mother Mystery series finds the determined amateur sleuth at the top of her game when a local tobacco factory is burnt down and the finger of blame is pointed at her former students. She is soon enlisted to help the investigation and, as ever, is ahead of the pack. Atmospheric and with a firm sense of time and place this is a slow burn, well constructed mystery with a twist in the tale.

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As always, I loved Harrison's writing style, characters and story telling. Brilliantly executed and kept me invested from the opening chapter until the conclusion.

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Deadly weed—in more ways than one!

Well this was a shocker! The twist at the end left me speechless. Oh, I suspected something was up but just didn’t expect the resolution to land where it did,
But back to the beginning. A man was found aphixiated from smoke inhalation when a fire broke our in a riverside factory. A cigarette factory just newly begun by one of the Rev. Mother’s cousins, Robert Murphy Robert had employed ten of her ex-students, school leavers, for six shillings a week to pack cigarettes from tobacco plants dating from Sir Walter Raleigh he’d found growing wild on his property. A brave new world was opening up and for these girls. A job is everything. Unfortunately a busybody, Mrs Maloney has watched the comings and goings for sometime and has seen one of the girls, Maureen leave after the others. Of course there’s all sorts of rumours about that.
Maureen, a wild fourteen year old young lass, unfortunately has annoyed the superintendent and has ended up In the woman's gaol as there’s no other place for her to be. Patrick is quite exercised about this.
Between the Rev. Mother, her young outrageous cousin Nell, former students Inspector Patrick Cashman, and Eileen McSweeney, a reporter and photographer for the Cork Examiner newspaper, the truth must be sorted out for a Maureen’s sake. We are left hanging somewhat as Patrick is going to have to take a step his superintendent won’t like. (Just as it seems the job of local superintendent will becoming vacant soon, and Patrick’s in the running.)
The story of these people we’ve followed for years may be drawing to a close. The Rev. Mother has lost none of her indomitable will, but I sense she’s tiring. Not that I count her out at all!
A brilliant episode in this series.

A Severn House ARC via NetGalley.
Many thanks to the author and publisher.

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This series is always exciting to me as my 2nd great Uncle spent his last years very near to Barrack Street. The book was great but Reverend Mother Aquinas seems to be felling her age, One of the last scenes made me wonder if Eileen will end up with Joe or Patrick? Could I be wrong?

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‘Is that the police? I want to report a murder.’

Cork, Ireland in the 1920s. A man is found dead after a fire at a local cigarette factory. The Reverend Mother receives the news the following day. Ten of her former pupils had been given steady jobs there, steady jobs at a time when Cork is full of unemployment, poverty and political unrest. The Reverend Mother is concerned: there is talk that one of her ‘girls’ was responsible.

Inspector Patrick Cashman is the investigating officer and is under pressure to find the cause of the fire and to identify a suspect. The Lord Mayor is visiting together with the Police Commissioner and Inspector Cashman is in line for a promotion.

The fire is quickly determined to be arson and when a local woman, Mrs Maloney, reports that one of the girls, Maureen McCarthy, often stayed late with the man who is now dead, Maureen is taken in for questioning. Maureen makes things worse for herself by spitting at the police superintendent and is gaoled. Even though the bishop refuses the Reverend Mother permission to visit Maureen, she draws on her cousins and other connections to investigate the case.

‘You mark my words, people in the future will be calling those tobacco leaves of yours the Deadly Weed.’

This is the tenth of Ms Harrison’s Reverend Mother mysteries the pace is slower than the others I have read. However, I thoroughly enjoyed the way in which the Reverend Mother investigates and uncovers the truth. Along the way we see the stark contrast between the poor in their slums and those with influence and money.

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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A quick, easy and enjoyable read that has definitely left me wanting to read both from this series and from this author in general.

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I have always enjoyed Cora Harrisons books, and have read a number of Burren mysteries and the Reverend Mother series. I was looking forward to reading "The Deadly Weed," the latest Reverend Mother book, but I was disappointed. The story involves a group of young girls, graduates of the convent school, who the Reverend Mother arranged to work at a cigarette factory (owned by a relative of the Reverend Mother.) Someone tries to set fire to the wooden building, and a body is later found.
It sounded like a good beginning. Unfortunately, the Reverend Mother's character almost took a back seat to the investigation. The end (don't worry, no specifics here) was less than satisfying, and seemed to me to be almost an afterthought.
Although I was disappointed, I will continue to read Harrison's series. No one can be perfect all the time.

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Mother Superior calls on all her friends when a 14-year-old student is jailed for murder. A neighborhood gossip swears she saw the teen leaving the tobacco factory with smoke swirling from the building. The manager dies from smoke inhalation.

Police Inspector Patrick Cashman, another of the nun's former students, questions the arrest but he can't antagonize his supervisor with a promotion looming. Reporter and law student Eileen McSweeney teams with the Mother Superior's cousin to interview the teen, with no success.

Finally, the nun has to solve the mystery herself, leading to a shocking conclusion.

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The Deadly Weed is the tenth Reverend Mother mystery set in Cork, Ireland in the 1920s. I appreciate Cora Harrison’s series for the history and atmospheric contrast between the poor and the slums of Cork and the moneyed class. But, this time, the book was repetitive, and, despite it’s relatively short length, it seemed to go on too long. However, the conclusion, and Reverend Mother Aquinas’ way of uncovering the truth was surprising.

Afterward, the Reverend Mother has regrets. Her second cousin, Mr. Robert Murphy, opened a cigarette factory not too far from the convent. In her eagerness to provide for her students, she suggested Mr. Murphy hire some of her girls to roll cigarettes. Ten fourteen-year-olds were hired. Reverend Mother even suggested that he build a privy for the girls. When the wooden privy caught fire one evening, a man was found dead inside from smoke inhalation. And, a neighbor woman, Mrs. Maloney reports that one of the girls, a redhead named Maureen McCarthy, was often seen staying late with the dead man. Then, the chief of the Fire Brigade informs Patrick the fire was arson.

Inspector Patrick Cashman, one of Reverend Mother’s former students, is forced by his supervisor to bring Maureen in for questioning. When she spits at the police superintendent, Maureen is thrown in jail. The bishop forbids Reverend Mother to go to the jail. But, that doesn’t mean several of Reverend Mother’s cousins won’t provide her the means to visit Murphy at his home, and ask enough questions to provide Patrick with assistance in the case.

Repetitive. I don’t know how many times Murphy and his sister can tell the story about Sir Walter Raleigh and tobacco. How many times can the Reverend Mother question herself about putting those ten girls to work at the cigarette factory? The mystery itself almost becomes secondary and unimportant when it comes to the stories about cigarettes and tobacco, the deadly weed.

Harrison’s series may have gone on a little too long. The interesting history of Cork has passed. The Reverend Mother is getting older. As much as I appreciate her and Patrick Cashman and another former student, Eileen McSweeney, it might be time to wrap up the series. The Deadly Weed was deadly boring at times, despite the ending.

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