The Deadly Weed

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Pub Date 07 Mar 2023 | Archive Date 28 Feb 2023

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The Reverend Mother's investigative skills are called into action when a local tobacco factory burns down and fingers are pointed at one of her ex pupils...

"Stellar . . . Harrison is writing at the top of her game" - Publishers Weekly Starred Review 

1920s. Cork, Ireland. Early one morning the Reverend Mother receives news of a deadly fire at the local cigarette factory, a place where she'd been so proud that some of her pupils had been given a steady job. In a city full of poverty, unemployment and political unrest, these ex pupils of hers had surely been blessed with such prospects. Now, though, she is worried . . . What happened at the cigarette factory and why are there rumours circulating that one of her 'girls' was responsible?

Inspector Patrick Cashman is under pressure to quickly find the cause of the fire - and identify a suspect - to placate the visiting Lord Mayor and Commissioner and secure his hopes of promotion. Patrick turns to his friend, the journalist and law student Eileen MacSweeney, for help, along with the ever insightful and calm Reverend Mother. From the fog-ridden streets of the slums to the green pastures and prosperity of nearby Youghal, together they begin to unravel a seedy history of greed, ambition and a desire for power.

The Reverend Mother's investigative skills are called into action when a local tobacco factory burns down and fingers are pointed at one of her ex pupils...

"Stellar . . . Harrison is writing at the...

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Average rating from 14 members

Featured Reviews

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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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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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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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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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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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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