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My Lady Judge: A Mystery of Medieval Ireland [Paperback]

Cora Harrison

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My Lady Judge Five hundred years ago, the western seaboard of Ireland was home to an independent kingdom that lived peacefully by the ancient Celtic laws of their forebears. On the first eve of a festive celebration, all the people of the land headed up Mullaghmore Mountain to light a bonfire. But one man--assistant to Mara, the King's appointed judge and lawgiver--did not return. For two days he lay in the mou... Full description

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.9 out of 5 stars  23 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable, refreshing story 2 Jun 2009
By Sophia - Published on Amazon.com
In "My Lady Judge," Cora Harrison introduces Mara O'Davoren, Brehon of the Kingdom of the Burren, in sixteenth-century Ireland. In addition to her usual duties as judge, Mara runs a law school on her premises, and, as the story opens, one of her students is murdered.

This story is fairly slow-paced and meanders a bit, so readers who prefer a fast-moving plot might not find it enjoyable. World-building is one of the high points of Harrison's writing. I found the insights into the history and culture of Ireland fascinating, even to small details of clothes, houses and food. Mara is a fun heroine, very smart, a touch vain, a bit arrogant, but with the ability to recognize her faults and laugh at herself. The supporting characters are also strong, believable and interesting.

I look forward to reading additional items in this series.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A welcome new addition to historical mysteries set in medieval Ireland 8 April 2010
By Cathy G. Cole - Published on Amazon.com
Book Source: Paperback Swap

First Line: It was then, as it is now, a land of grey stone.

Thirty-six-year-old Mara is the Brehon (judge) of the kingdom of the Burren in western Ireland, and also in charge of the law school. When everyone in the area troops up Mullaghmore Mountain to celebrate a feast day, Mara's assistant, Colman, does not return. Two days later his body is found up on the mountain in close proximity to where the celebration occurred. Although Colman has never been popular, Mara has to wonder how he could die so close to revelry... and no one sees a thing. As judge, it is her business to bring the murderer to justice.

Each chapter of My Lady Judge begins with a bit of medieval Irish law, which I found to be very interesting. Sometimes I even found those ancient laws to be better than current ones, such as this judgment concerning someone we would call developmentally disabled today:

"The Court finds that Feirdin MacNamera is to be classified as fer lethcuinn, a half-sane man. This means that he has the protection of the court and the community. Anyone who incites him to commit a crime must himself pay the penalty, anyone who mocks him will be fined five sets, two and a half ounces of silver, or three milch cows. This is the law of the king."

Once Mara discovers the main reason why Colman was so unpopular, she has more suspects than she knows what to do with, so she proceeds to investigate as quickly as she can. Most of Mara's investigative skills could be chalked up to plain old common sense, and although I enjoyed the mystery and the glimpse into another time and place, I didn't appreciate the solution to the murder being told to me at the end of the book. Take me along during the entire process. Don't lock me up in my room until it's over, then sit me down in front of the fire to tell me a story.

Occasionally the bits of Irish law, customs, clothing and language got to be a bit too much, momentarily dragging me out of the story, but I jumped back in with little trouble because I enjoyed the setting and the character of Mara so much. I look forward to reading other books in this series.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars New Addition to Irish mystries 29 Jan 2010
By James Tauber - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
As a fan of Peter Tremayne this was recommended by the Amazon system. I was not disappointed. The author provides a good mystery that allows the heroine to provide a narrative of 16th Century Ireland. The story develops well and gives a nice introduction to the Burren region of Ireland. The Brehon law, as it applies to the events, is explained at a simple level and leaves hooks to deeper exploration. Cora Harrison does a nice job in placing you in the landscape of the area and providing insight to the culture of the time. The mystery provides detail of the area, introduces and develops several characters as well as keeping your attention.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Disappointment 7 Sep 2013
By j david kelley jr - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I was intrigued by the premise when I read about this book on line, but when I started it, I found the Judge mostly judging the culture around her with 20th century eyes and the cases that she was encountering not particularly interesting. I didn't finish it.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable addition to historical detective fiction 6 Aug 2011
By Fizban - Published on Amazon.com
As a fan of historical fiction, and detective fiction, a series starter which introduces a female protagonist is quite welcome. It is set in a charming part of the world (the Burren, Ireland) in a very interesting period (16th Century). The pace of the book is much like its setting - it moves at the happy wandering walk of a country farmer. Pleasant diversions to develop characters and drop hints regarding the murder mystery help to give the book its ambience. The author does quite well in giving the characters a historic feel, but unfortunately occasionally falls afoul of giving their female protagonist more modern ideas about individual freedoms and the like (in fairness, they are tempered with more reasonable old world thoughts from time to time). She also gives into a couple of rather hackneyed stereotypes - how many times must we read of a crazed, sexually frustrated priest antagonist? On the other hand, one really can empathise with the protagonist, and there are little mentions of love interest and friendly affection the like which keep the story going in slower times, and are really quite endearing.

Overall, this was an enjoyable read on the train for a few days between law texts. As a first in a series, it does a good job of setting the scene and the main character. It would be wonderful if it could be available on Kindle - some of the later books are, I understand. But some of us prefer to start from the start - and if you are looking for a new historic detective book to read, and have patience exceeding that of a teenager, you would no doubt enjoy this novel as a leading to a new series.
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