I have just finished reading another mystery featuring a female investigator and which also heavily involves folk culture. Recently the culture was native Alaskan; this time it is Irish. In False Mermaid by Erin Hart Find this book in our catalog forensic pathologist Nora Gavin struggles to convince the St. Paul, Minnesota police that her brother-in-law was the culprit in the unsolved murder of her celebrated actress sister five years previously.
For those five years Nora has been in Ireland where, unable to face the salacious rumors circulating about her dead sister and frustrated by the police and their inability to pin any concrete evidence on the husband, Nora had fled. There she has been working with an archaeologist exhuming bodies from the bogs, sometimes using her forensic abilities to solve contemporary murders.
Concerned about the fate of her niece when her (Nora is convinced) murderous brother-in-law announces his impending re-marriage, Nora returns to the US. Now she is determined to bring some closure to the mystery by finding new evidence. She quickly does find more evidence, using her forensic pathology skills on the body of another murdered woman. Nora also finds clues left for her by her sister. The action quickly hots up as Nora is followed and begins to fear for her safety and the safety of her witnesses. She goes back to Ireland and finds herself on the run, together with her niece who has run away from her father. The whole plot is cleverly interwoven with the story of the mysterious disappearance of an Irish fisherman’s wife one hundred years ago. The story lives on in folk memory in a song that becomes key to the solving of Nora’s mystery.
If you like rich Irish local color evocatively rendered you will like this book. If you like old folk tales and stories and songs you will like this book. There is also plenty to interest fans of forensic pathology and of fast-moving mysteries with plenty of action, but also times of introspection. At the bottom of everything is love, which can be both transformative and destructive.