Book Review: Death at Whitewater Church

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Synopsis

When a skeleton is discovered, wrapped in a blanket, in the hidden crypt of a deconsecrated church, everyone is convinced the bones must be those of Conor Devitt, a local man who went missing on his wedding day six years previously. But the post mortem reveals otherwise.

Solicitor Benedicta ‘Ben’ O’Keeffe is acting for the owners of the church, and although an unwelcome face from her past makes her reluctant to get involved initially, when Conor’s brother dies in strange circumstances shortly after coming to see her, she finds herself drawn in to the mystery. Whose is the skeleton in the crypt and how did it get there? Is Conor Devitt still alive, and if so is there a link? What happened on the morning of his wedding to make him disappear?

Negotiating between the official investigation, headed up by the handsome but surly Sergeant Tom Molloy, and obstructive locals with secrets of their own, Ben unravels layers of personal and political history to get to the truth of what happened six years before.”

Review

Full disclosure: I stopped reading this at 130 pages in.

I have never read a book set in Ireland, and the atmospheric setting was intriguing to me at first. It was the perfect background for a spooky mystery involving unidentified remains found in a crypt, with an entire town assuming they belong to one person only to find out that they don’t. And yet well into the story I was noticing that I couldn’t remember which character was which, and that I wasn’t interested in going back to find out. Nor was I all that eager to find out “whodunnit” as they say; eventually I decided I didn’t really care.

It is stated repeatedly that Ben O’Keefe is somewhat of an outsider in Inishowen, and yet she’d lived there for well over a year and was involved in local town goings-on like the drama club. Maybe you are always considered an “outsider” if you didn’t actually grow up in a place, even if you’ve lived there for an extended period of time? It just wasn’t adding up for me and it did not seem believable.

I am also not really a fan of the “bystander solving the crime” plot device. Ben really had nothing to do with any of it, other than just happening to be there when the remains where found in the crypt. Aside from that, all she is doing is lurking around the town and eavesdropping and making her own assumptions about what happened.

The only thing keeping me reading, at one point, was to get more of the backstory between her and Tom Molloy. But even that was moving at a snail’s pace such that I became disinterested in it all together.

As I’ve said here before I really hate when I have to stop reading a book, but it happens. Life is too short to make yourself continue reading something you aren’t crazy about. I was looking for a new mystery series, but sadly this won’t be it.

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