MURDER ON AN IRISH FARM is the eighth book in the Irish Village Mysteries by Carlene O’Connor. This newest addition to a delightful series can easily be read as a standalone, however, it’s been a huge pleasure watching the characters develop over the years from the very first book. The protagonist, Siobhán O’Sullivan, isn’t your usual amateur sleuth. Instead, she’s an Irish garda and has the necessary skills to investigate crimes in their village. Despite her occupation, she has a deep caring side for those in need, especially when it comes to her orphaned siblings, whom she’s mothered over the years after the unexpected death of their parents. I greatly enjoy seeing their interaction and while there might be a lot of teasing and sometimes annoyance, you can feel their genuine love for each other. Siobhán garda partner and soon-to-be husband, Macdaras Flannery, fits into her and her siblings’ life perfectly. I appreciate that he doesn’t try to minimize Siobhán’s commitment to her siblings but instead, embraces it and pitches in where needed. Ms. O’Connor flavors the book with Irish colloquialisms and her descriptive voice brings the village and surrounding countryside to life. It made me yearn to revisit Ireland and experience the delightful people and country in person again.
When an old skeleton is found on the farm Macdaras purchased for Siobhán as a wedding present, the couple postpone their vows and try to determine who the victim was and who might have wanted to kill him. When a new victim shows up in the same location, the stakes turn even higher. I enjoyed the way the author effectively ties in the old murder with the new one. As the clues unfolded, the story turned in directions I hadn’t anticipated and kept me glued to the pages. She also includes clues involving falconry. It’s quite obvious that a lot of research was done on the subject and I appreciated the realistic details woven into the story. The author’s details never slowed down the fast-paced plot and only added to the enjoyment of the book. I was especially enthralled because it brought back wonderful memories of my experience with falconry during my visit to Ireland a few years ago and I’ve included a photo at the bottom of the page.
With mouthwatering food mentioned throughout the book, including wedding eclairs given to Siobhán, I was happy to see that the author includes the recipe for Easy-Peasy Chocolate Eclairs at the back of the book. While the recipe may look daunting—there are a lot of ingredients and steps involved—if you break it down into individual sections it becomes doable. I made eclairs once, decades ago, and I recall my arm practically cramping from beating the eggs into the choux pastry with a wooden spoon. I was more than relieved to see that this recipe calls for using a stand mixer which really does make these easy-peasy. Easy-Peasy Chocolate Eclairs melt-in-your-mouth pastries are heavenly: soft and chocolaty, with sweet cream in the middle. You won’t be able to limit yourself to just one!
In USA Today best-selling author Carlene O’Connor’s eighth Irish Village Mystery, the long-engaged garda of County Cork, Ireland, Siobhán O’Sullivan and Macdaras Flannery, are about to get married at last. But just as the rowdy O’Sullivan brood and all the regulars of the local bistro have gathered at the church, the nuptials come to an abrupt halt when the discovery of an unidentified skeleton puts the wedding on pause….
If only her mother could be here! The entire O’Sullivan brood – not to mention the regulars from Naomi’s Bistro – have gathered at St. Mary’s Church for the wedding of Siobhán and Macdara. It’s not every day you see two garda marrying each other. Only Siobhán’s brother James is missing. They can’t start without him.
But when James finally comes racing in, he’s covered in dirt and babbling he’s found a human skeleton in the old slurry pit at the farmhouse. What farmhouse? Macdara sheepishly admits he was saving it as a wedding surprise: He purchased an abandoned dairy farm. Duty calls, so the engaged garda decide to put the wedding on hold to investigate.
James leads them to a skeleton clothed in rags that resemble a tattered tuxedo. As an elderly neighbor approaches, she cries out that these must be the remains of her one true love who never showed up on their wedding day, 50 years ago. The garda have a cold case on their hands, which heats up the following day when a fresh corpse appears on top of the bridegroom’s bones. With a killer at large, they need to watch their backs – or the nearly wedded couple may be parted by death before they’ve even taken their vows….
A special thanks to Carlene O’Connor and Kensington Publishing for providing a winner with a print copy of MURDER ON AN IRISH FARM. Contest ends March 20, 2022 at 11:59 pm PST and is limited to U.S. residents. Be aware that the book may not ship until early April. Please use the Rafflecopter box located below to enter. The winner will be announced on this page and on Cinnamon & Sugar’s Facebook page, as well as notified by email (so check your spam folder!)
- 4.2 ounces (by weight) milk
- 4.2 ounces (by weight) water
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup cream
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup plain yogurt
- 1 cup chopped dark chocolate
- 1 cup cream
- 1-1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 180C or 350F. Line two baking trays with parchment paper.
In a medium saucepan combine the milk, water, butter, sugar, and salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the butter has melted and the mixture just comes to a boil. Remove from the heat.
Add the flour to the milk mixture and mix it with a wooden spoon until incorporated.
Place the saucepan back on the heat and mix with the wooden spoon until you have a smooth ball that comes away easily from the sides of the saucepan.
Place the dough into the bowl of a stand mixer and, using beater attachments, mix for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the dough cools down.
Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix thoroughly after each addition. The dough should form a past.
Place the paste in a piping bag with a plain or large star nozzle. Holding the piping bag at a 45-degree angle, pipe 4-inch strips of the paste onto the prepared baking trays, leaving 2 inches between each.
Bake at 180C or 350F for 10 minutes. Then reduce the heat to 160C or 320F and bake for an additional 20 minutes, or until the pastries are golden brown.
Remove the pastries form the oven and prick each with a skewer to release the heat. Cool on a wire rack.
Once they have cooled, make two holes in the bottom of each with a piping nozzle.
Combine the cream, sugar, and vanilla in a medium bowl and beat with a whisk until soft peaks form. Fold in the yogurt.
Fill a piping bag with the vanilla cream and place it in the refrigerator to chill.
Place the chocolate in a medium glass bowl.
Combine the cream, butter, and salt in a small saucepan. Bring just to a boil, stirring, over medium heat.
Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and whisk until the chocolate has melted completely. Keep the glaze warm and set aside.
Assemble the eclairs by piping vanilla cream into each pastry.
Dip the filled eclairs into the chocolate glaze and shake off the excess.
Place on a wire rack and allow the glaze to set.
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I was provided with an advance copy. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
The falconry experience I had while on vacation in Ireland is one I’ll treasure for the rest of my life!