This is the first book by Cora Harrison that I have read, and I really enjoyed it. Here is the Amazon synopsis for My Lady Judge:
In the sixteenth century, as it is now, the Burren, on the western seaboard of Ireland, was a land of grey stone forts, fields of rich green grass and swirling mountain terraces. It was also home to an independent kingdom that lived peacefully by the ancient Brehon laws of their forebears. On the first eve of May, 1509, hundreds of people from the Burren climbed the gouged out limestone terraces of Mullaghmore Mountain to celebrate the great May Day festival, lighting a bonfire and singing and dancing through the night, then returning through the grey dawn to the safety of their homes. But one man did not come back down the steeply spiralling path. His body lay exposed to the ravens and wolves on the bare, lonely mountain for two nights …and no one spoke of him, or told what they had seen.And when Mara, a woman appointed by King Turlough Don O’Brien to be judge and lawgiver to the stony kingdom, came to investigate, she was met with a wall of silence …’An excellent historical novel with a most original leading character…A true Celtic feast.’ – P. C. Doherty.
This is a murder mystery set in Ireland in the Middle Ages. The main character is Mara, who is the judge of this kingdom. I loved her character. She had so many sides, the teacher, the mother, the judge and the woman. She could be deceptive when necessary, or just to get out of boring social meetings, which made me chuckle. She did have a conscience however. She was fair, calm and friendly. All the characters were well written and many I found an emotional connection too.
I liked the old-fashioned way of investigating the murder. There were several characters who could have been framed and way the murder was solved and reveled reminded me of the old murder mystery shows, with Mara talking to the king about how she worked it out. I guessed who the murder victim was but I did guess who the murderer was. I liked how there were two crimes that needed solving, and how we learned about the family ties and feuds that joined the community together. It was also interesting how Harrison compared English law to Irish law at the time.
I did have problems with the names. There were several long, hard to read names, but I just read over them and inserted my own version of the word.
Harrison’s description of Ireland in the Middle Ages was magical and I found myself transported back there. I will definitely be reading more in this Burren Series.
panmacmillan May 2008 £6.99 paperback