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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Murder in the 1500s
First Sentence: The Burren, on the west coast of Ireland, is a land of white stone and dark gree-blue sea, encircled by swirling terraced mountains of gleaming limestone, soft fertile grass and hard rock; tiny jewel-bright flowers and wind-torn asymmetrical trees; great pagan stone monuments and small ruined Christian churches and abbeys.

Mara, responsible for...
Published on 29 Jan 2010 by L. J. Roberts

versus
6 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Waste of a good idea and setting
There seems to be a lot of historical murder mystery series around at the moment. Why choose this one? Well, the blurb makes it sound intriguing - a female judge in the west of Ireland in the early 16th century investigates a murder on the eve of her wedding to a local king, and all the suspects are trapped by a fierce snowstorm in a remote abbey.
Unfortunately, I...
Published on 16 May 2010 by Bookwoman


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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Murder in the 1500s, 29 Jan 2010
By 
L. J. Roberts (Oakland, CA, USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
First Sentence: The Burren, on the west coast of Ireland, is a land of white stone and dark gree-blue sea, encircled by swirling terraced mountains of gleaming limestone, soft fertile grass and hard rock; tiny jewel-bright flowers and wind-torn asymmetrical trees; great pagan stone monuments and small ruined Christian churches and abbeys.

Mara, responsible for justice in Burren, Ireland, is set to marry King Turlock, ruler of three kingdoms in Northwest Ireland. He announced he would hold a solitary vigil in the abbey church by the tomb of his ancestor at dawn. When Brehon is awakened to an uproar of voices proclaiming the King has been murdered, she knows it is not true as he was with her. The victim is the King's brother. But who was the intended victim?

I was trying to figure out what about this series appeals to me as much as it does. One answer is the author's descriptive abilities. Harrison is a very evocative writer, not only of era and location, but of people as well. I can "see" what I'm being told and that adds a real richness to the story. It allows the story to become real in my head.

Another answer is the history. Learning about a time, place and, particularly, a system of law only known to me because of this series, is something I value. It also adds a background layer of suspense as you sense the time coming when English law will outlaw Brehon law in the 1600s. When an author can educate, as well as entertain, they gain my respect.

The characters are very well drawn; I felt their personalities. Mara is a very intelligent, strong and capable woman, holds a position of high authority and respect. She also has a bit of Holmes' powers of observations and Miss Marple's ability to appear guileless, who Harrison has very smartly balanced that with Turlock; a king who has been a warrior all his life and tends to react first. While not romantic suspense, by any means, the relationship between Mara and Turlock is nicely done. Surrounding them are multitude of diverse characters and personalities adding layers to the story.

I did appreciate that, in this book, Mara's law students had a much less substantial role in solving the crime. The story is well plotted providing lots of possible suspects and motives along the way. It also raises the issue of canon law versus secular law.

I very much enjoyed this book and recommend it to all those who enjoy historical mysteries.

WRIT IN STONE (Hist Mys-Mara, Brehon of the Burren- Ireland-1509/Middle Ages - VG
Harrison, Cora - 4th in series
Severn House, 2009, UK Hardcover - ISBN: 9780727868121
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the best!!!!, 5 Sep 2011
This review is from: Writ in Stone: A Burren Medieval Mystery 4 (A Burren Mystery) (Kindle Edition)
once again, cora harrison delivers with an excellent read! she really is the queen of historical fiction, when you read a cora harrison book you really get transported to the burren and the story just blows you away! dont ever stop cora!!!! well done!!!
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another good tale from Cora Harrison, 28 Jun 2010
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This is the 4th book in the Burren Mystery series from Cora Harrison and describes the events leading up to the marriage of Mara, Brehon of the Burren (a judge) to King Turlough O'Brien who is ruler of the Burren. A violent murder takes place in Corcomroe Abbey on Christmas Eve, but was the victim the intended target, or was it a case of mistaken identity?

A little background information: the Burren is a unique limestone landscape in co. Clare, Ireland, steeped in history dating back 1000s of years. You cannot travel more than a mile or so without coming across some ancient ruin: a megalithic tomb or crumbling medieval church. Many of the places mentioned in the book(s) can still be identified and visited today.

I've visited the Burren several times and can picture the scenes and places Cora Harrison so vividly and accurately describes. All her characters are well developed: I feel a great warmth and affection for Mara, the Brehon judge, and have go to "know" her well through the 5 books written so far (as of June 2010). Mara's young scholars at the Burren law school are also clearly defined, from quiet young Hugh, to reliable Fachtnan, and there are many other characters to get to know throughout the series.

I recommend you read these books in the order they were published, as events do move on and characters develope from book to book:

1 My Lady Judge
2 Michaelmas Tribute (published under "A Secret and Unlawful Killing" in USA)
3 The Sting of Justice
4 Writ in Stone
5 Eye of the Law

A super medieval mystery series with extremely likeable characters.

I look forward to more from Cora Harrison!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 13 Oct 2014
By 
Lesley Bizley - See all my reviews
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Excellent as usual!
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6 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Waste of a good idea and setting, 16 May 2010
By 
Bookwoman - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
There seems to be a lot of historical murder mystery series around at the moment. Why choose this one? Well, the blurb makes it sound intriguing - a female judge in the west of Ireland in the early 16th century investigates a murder on the eve of her wedding to a local king, and all the suspects are trapped by a fierce snowstorm in a remote abbey.
Unfortunately, I came straight to this from reading the Ariana Franklin series, which features another female crime investigator and her team (though this time in 12th century England) - a far superior read. Why?
There is the skeleton of a good story here. It's an original setting with an interesting-sounding female heroine, there is a good shipwreck scene and the murderer is unveiled very well.
A lot of it is down to the dialogue. A more skilful writer can, in a scene or two of conversation, more finely draw characters and their thoughts and relationships than by writing pages of clunking prose like this. If you read out the dialogue, none of it sounds real and all the characters sound the same. She keeps telling us what people are thinking instead of showing us. I didn't feel I got to know the main protagonist, Mara, at all (contrast this with Ariana Franklin's heroine Aliena and her warm relationships with her little gang of ill-assorted helpers). Mara just moves the plot along by interviewing each suspect in turn. I'm also afraid that, when you're already struggling to remember who's who, the difficult to pronounce (for us non-gaelic speakers) place and character names - Murrough, Turlough, Teige, Fachtnan - just make it all that much more of a slog. And when the historical setting isn't really working for you, all that's left is an Agatha Christie-style locked room/island cut off from the mainland mystery, all done much better 50 or more years ago. (And with all the explanations of which staircase leads where, etc, a layout plan of the abbey and grounds would have helped - perhaps with a map of the west of Ireland too).
I really wanted to like this, but only two stars - one for an original idea, and two for the final scenes as the murderer is revealed and the wedding can take place.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 18 Aug 2014
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This review is from: Writ in Stone: A Burren Medieval Mystery 4 (A Burren Mystery) (Kindle Edition)
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