A SHAMEFUL MURDER

Read the first chapter

Also in the series:

A Shocking Assassination, by Cora Harrison

Booklist says:

‘OUTSTANDING IN ITS GENRE’

Historical-mystery veteran Harrison debuts an entertaining new series set in Cork, Ireland, in 1923 and starring a sleuthing nun.

When Reverend Mother Aquinas finds the body of Angelina Fitzsimon, daughter of a prominent Cork citizen, on the river bank, it at first appears the girl drowned. But the marks on her throat lead Aquinas to conclude she was strangled and thrown in the river. Police sergeant Patrick Cashman is first on site and agrees with her conclusion. Angelina’s father and brother seem oddly unmoved by her death, and, since her mother is in the lunatic asylum, there’s no one to mourn Angelina’s death or push to find out who killed her.

When the autopsy reveals that Angelina was three months pregnant, the case takes on a whole new angle, especially since she was due to inherit a sizable fortune on her twenty-first birthday in three months’ time.

With Ireland’s civil war turning particularly bloody, the police declare Angelina’s case a lower priority as they try to control the warring factions, but Patrick and Mother Aquinas are determined to find out who killed the girl and why.

Mistaken identities, strange twists, an intelligent and likeable heroine, and a tragic tale of sex, greed and betrayal – make sure that your historical mystery readers get this on their radar.


Review from PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

Set in 1923, this stellar first in a new Irish series from Harrison (Condemned to Death, her latest Burren mystery set in 16th-century Ireland) introduces Reverend Mother Aquinas, who finds the corpse of a young woman near the gateway to the chapel of her Cork convent.

Mother Aquinas summons a former charge, Sgt. Patrick Cashman, to the crime scene, where they note that the dead girl is dressed in fancy clothes and find her handbag contains a large amount of money, as well as a dance card for the Merchants’ Annual Ball.

When Mother Aquinas notes bruise marks on the cadaver’s throat, she suspects foul play (“Cork, in its first year of independence, simmered in the heat of a deadly civil war and the resolution of political differences was often murder”).

The body is soon identified as that of Angelina Fitzsimon, a respected tea merchant’s daughter, who was about to turn 21 and gain access to a fortune. Harrison combines a savvy detective and a setting fraught with intrigue and tension for another winner.


Reviews from Net Galley

Stephenie Sasse (Reviewer) rating: 5 out of 5 stars

“Better to illuminate than merely to shine to deliver to others contemplated truths than merely to contemplate.” -- Thomas Aquinas

A Shameful Murder is a mesmerizing historical mystery set against the backdrop of 1920's Ireland. Cora Harrison breathes life into a setting and time period unfamiliar to most American readers. Cork is a city divided by wealth and politics. Gunfire breaks out in the streets. Sewage washes up with the frequent floods.

During one such flood, Reverend Mother Aquinas discovers the body of a young woman in an evening dress. While dead bodies are not unusual, one of the monied class is, and there are pressures to put the issue to rest and label it a suicide. Police Sergeant Patrick Cashman and Mother Aquinas are far less certain. Why would a woman purchase a ticket for the Liverpool Ferry if she was intending to commit suicide? Investigating a murder involving the privileged class is difficult for a young detective born in poverty. Fortunately he has the assistance of the perceptive and pragmatic Mother Aquinas and the enlightened Dr Sher.

The Reverend Mother Aquinas is an exceptional woman, both educated and compassionate, eager to put her intelligence to use helping others. Her position and her background enable her to mix with rich and poor alike. In a city where those living in wealth and privilege rarely associate with the lower classes, this is of great help in finding the truth. Her pragmatic and nonjudgemental approach to life and religion, as well as her compassionate nature make her an engaging lead. The quotes by her namesake St. Thomas Aquinas are a wonderful and meaningful addition. The supporting characters were equally well developed.

I loved learning more about post WWI Ireland, its culture and its history. The setting was almost as fascinating as the mystery. Anyone who loves history and mystery will enjoy this novel. I am looking forward to reading more mysteries featuring the Reverend Mother Aquinas.


Four star review from Net Galley:

‘A Shameful Murder’ is the first book about Reverend Mother Aquinas. Set in Ireland in the 1920's, the Reverend Mother finds a washed up body at the gate of the convent chapel. She asks Sergeant Patrick Cashman, a former pupil to investigate. There are several clues to go on.

The body is dressed to the nines and she was apparently meant to attend the Merchant's ball. There is also a ticket for the Liverpool ferry. Together with Dr Sher, a friend of hers, they uncover the terrible last night of this stranger.

What makes ‘A Shameful Murder’ enjoyable, is its authenticity and attention to detail. It is a "period piece", in the best possible way, attention to detail of the time.

But a murder is a murder in any time and Harrison goes all out for this story.
Bring on the next Reverend Mother book.
Set in 1923, this stellar first in a new Irish series from Harrison (Condemned to Death, her latest Burren mystery set in 16th-century Ireland) introduces Reverend Mother Aquinas, who finds the corpse of a young woman near the gateway to the chapel of her Cork convent. Mother Aquinas summons a former charge, Sgt. Patrick Cashman, to the crime scene, where they note that the dead girl is dressed in fancy clothes and find her handbag contains a large amount of money, as well as a dance card for the Merchants’ Annual Ball. When Mother Aquinas notes bruise marks on the cadaver’s throat, she suspects foul play (“Cork, in its first year of independence, simmered in the heat of a deadly civil war and the resolution of political differences was often murder”). The body is soon identified as that of Angelina Fitzsimon, a respected tea merchant’s daughter, who was about to turn 21 and gain access to a fortune. Harrison combines a savvy detective and a setting fraught with intrigue and tension for another winner.

Jill Weekes Recommends This Book Strongly:

This is a well written and interesting historical mystery set in Ireland in the 1920s. It is the first in a new series and introduces Mother Aquinas.

Respected by the whole community of Cork she finds that she has the contacts and the personal standing to find out information that the police can't always track down. When the body of a young girl is washed up almost at the convent's gates after a flood Mother Aquinas feels the need to know more.

Fortunately Sergeant Patrick Cashman is investigating the case and he went to school as a child at the convent so she feels able to talk to him about the case.

I liked the background to the story - the huge gaps between rich and poor in the city of Cork as well as the nightly battles between opposing factions in the on-going fight to gain independence for a united Ireland, I thought were sketched in with a light hand, though it could have dominated the story it was placed firmly in the background of everyday life for both rich and poor.

It is the character of Mother Aquinas which dominates the story. She is compassionate, wise and has a great deal of experience of life in spite of her apparent seclusion from the world. If you want to read something different in the way of historical crime fiction then I recommend this book. I thought it was excellent and I shall be looking out for more books featuring Mother Aquinas.

I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley for review.


Stephenie Sasse Recommends This Book Strongly:

“Better to illuminate than merely to shine to deliver to others contemplated truths than merely to contemplate.” -- Thomas Aquinas

A Shameful Murder is a mesmerizing historical mystery set against the backdrop of 1920's Ireland. Cora Harrison breathes life into a setting and time period unfamiliar to most American readers.

Cork is a city divided by wealth and politics. Gunfire breaks out in the streets. Sewage washes up with the frequent floods. During one such flood, Reverend Mother Aquinas discovers the body of a young woman in an evening dress.

While dead bodies are not unusual, one of the monied class is, and there are pressures to put the issue to rest and label it a suicide. Police Sergeant Patrick Cashman and Mother Aquinas are far less certain.

Why would a woman purchase a ticket for the Liverpool Ferry if she was intending to commit suicide? Investigating a murder involving the privileged class is difficult for a young detective born in poverty. Fortunately he has the assistance of the perceptive and pragmatic Mother Aquinas and the enlightened Dr Sher.

The Reverend Mother Aquinas is an exceptional woman, both educated and compassionate, eager to put her intelligence to use helping others. Her position and her background enable her to mix with rich and poor alike.

In a city where those living in wealth and privilege rarely associate with the lower classes, this is of great help in finding the truth. Her pragmatic and nonjudgemental approach to life and religion, as well as her compassionate nature make her an engaging lead. The quotes by her namesake St. Thomas Aquinas are a wonderful and meaningful addition.

The supporting characters were equally well developed. I loved learning more about post WWI Ireland, its culture and its history. The setting was almost as fascinating as the mystery. Anyone who loves history and mystery will enjoy this novel. I am looking forward to reading more mysteries featuring the Reverend Mother Aquinas.

A Shameful Murder is the first novel featuring the Reverend Mother Aquinas. It is available for preorder and will be released September 1, 2015. 5/5 I received a copy of A Shameful Murder from the publisher and Netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review. --Crittermom


Angie Milton Recommends This Book:

Set in 1920's Ireland, this is an intriguing mystery. It had me hooked from the moment that the body of the young girl washed up on the convent grounds. The author paints a vivid picture of what it was like to live Ireland during that politically fragile and often dangerous time. You are drawn in and made to feel as if you are there walking through the flooded streets of Cork. The Reverend Mother is strong and intelligent.

I was happy to see that her background was not one that was sheltered and gave her some sense of how life worked among the classes. It made her so much more believable. Mother Aquinas and Patrick along with Dr. Scher made a great crime solving team. As far as Eileen goes, I simply adored her and hope to see her again in future books.

There were clues along the way, but nothing that gave away who the murderer was. It was quite unexpected and one of those wow moments. It was well executed and a great first book to what promises to be an excellent series. I am already looking forward to reading the next book and hopefully I won't have too long to wait.


Tanya Brough Recommends This Book:

A shameful Murder is the first book about Reverend Mother Aquinas. Set in Ireland in the 1920's, the Reverend Mother finds a washed up body at the gate of the convent chapel. She asks sergeant Patrick Cashman, a former pupil to investigate. There are several clues to go on. The body is dressed to the nines and she was apparently meant to attend the Merchant's ball. There is also a ticket for the Liverpool ferry. Together with Dr Sher, a friend of hers, they uncover the terrible last night of this stranger. .

What makes Shameful Murder enjoyable, is its authenticity and attention to detail. It is a "period piece", in the best possible way, attention to detail of the time. But a murder is a murder in any time and Harrison goes all out for this story. .

Bring on the next Reverend Mother book.


Michael Knight Recommends This Book Strongly:

Reverend Mother Aquinas is the head of St Mary's of the Isle convent who finds the body of a dead young woman washed ashore close by the convent chapel. Obviously a member of the upper echelon of Cork society as evidenced by her expensive clothing, Rev. Mother sends for her friend Sergeant Patrick Cashman of the civic guards. The young woman looked to be in attendance at the Merchant's Annual Ball, the social function of the year the previous evening. But what Cashman found in her evening bag will rock the Cork social world's foundations.

I love this book, couldn't put it down til I finished it. Keeps you there in the moment with the Reverend Mother and Sergeant Cashman until they solved the mystery.


Louise Scutts Recommends This Book:

What a find this is! I have never read a Cora Harrison book before - and this is a little gem of a novel.

Set In Cork in 1923, a turbulent time for the city and for Ireland as a whole, we are introduced to Reverend Mother Aquinas, an elderly nun who becomes involved in a murder after she finds the body close to the convent over which she presides.

She battles to prove that the young girl was murdered and not a suicide - as the local police force so readily wants to believe - as the girl comes from one of the cities wealthiest most influential families and is helped in her endeavours by a young policeman Sergeant Cashman and physician Dr Sher.

This is a nicely crafted novel, with excellent characterisations especially the Rev Mother who is a woman out of time - intelligent and erudite who has never been given the chances in life most men take for granted simply by dint of the fact she is female and born in the wrong decade.

Add to this a lovely sense of place of turbulent twenties Ireland, a country virtually ripping itself apart fighting for independence from England and you have a novel which is enthralling from start to finish.

I read this book in two sittings and got lost in it, it is wonderful, I greatly look forward to the next outing for our intrepid trio and hope it is not too long in coming.

I love finding a new series to follow - and this has just joined that list. More please!


Melanie Griffiths Recommends This Book:

An interesting slowly unfolding mystery with excellent historical atmosphere and well developed characters.


Jo Ann Hakola rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Full Text: Reverend Mother Aquinas never expected to find a dead body at the gate of the convent chapel and she certainly didn't expect it to be tied to her past. She was seventy now and had left that world behind. But it hasn't left her behind...

Severn House and Net Galley let me read this book for review (thank you). It will be published September 1st, so you can snag a copy then.

Nuns have always fascinated me. I went to a parochial school (St. Joseph's in Chehalis, WA) and our teachers were nuns. They always wore these strange uniforms, were staid and steadfast, and you never got away with anything. Most were very intelligent women and I learned a lot from them. So when this nun is involved with this case, I knew it was going to be a fun read for me despite the murder.

The young woman is identified as the daughter of a monied man. When the police check into the matter, they find that the woman was just about of age to collect her inheritance, which would have left her father and brother destitute. The assumption is that of them has killed her. Reverend Mother isn't so certain, though.

First she discovers that while the young woman resembles the daughter, she's not. She's a prostitute's child and was fathered by that fine society man who "lost" his daughter. That adds a whole new angle to the case. She also locates the missing girl because of her knowledge about the past.

The nun goes back in history and drags out facts to support her suppositions. I was amazed at who the killer was. The guilty party was not even on my list of suspects!

When the killer is identified, he commits suicide. The police superintendent just lets it die a quiet death so it won't become a big news item and embarrass people. I'm glad the nun knows an independent journalist. It won't be under the rug for long...

I like this new team of nun, retired doctor and an up and coming young detective. They make a mean team (and eat lots of pastries). I hope to read more in this series.