Book 1 of the Finfarren Peninsula trilogy about a fictitious town in western Ireland. Hanna Casey is still licking her wounds from her husband’s betrayal and feels unfulfilled working as the librarian in her hometown and living with her opinionated mother, so she decides to renovate a cottage she inherited from an elderly aunt. The endeavor is challenging from the start, and then she learns that the local council is planning to close the library. Though she has a reputation among the townspeople as rather aloof, she recruits some unexpected allies to counteract the council’s plan. I found Hanna to be a bit annoying and inconsistent, but I really liked many of the side characters, especially her strong-willed and well-named builder Fury McGee. The story is occasionally cutesy, but there’s substance there and a charming setting to compel me to continue the series. I’ll be stopping in Ireland during a cruise next month, so I wanted to read a story set primarily in the country after reading a few immigrant stories the past couple years. This also fulfills a Litsy Booked2019 prompt to read a book set in Ireland and/or by an Irish author. Read 19-30 March.
20. The Blackhouse by Peter May
Book 1 of the Isle of Lewis trilogy about Fin McLeod, a police detective who’s working in Edinburgh but hails from a small town at the northern tip of the island. When a former schoolmate is murdered in the same gruesome fashion as a city murder he’s investigating, he reluctantly returns home to determine whether the similarities are a coincidence or evidence, but first he has to manage his own demons from the past and get beyond the resentment of his childhood friends who feel he abandoned them. The story is so full of local atmosphere and Fin’s memories that the murder is almost an afterthought, but in the last part of the book the action kicks into gear for a satisfying conclusion. Fin is a hard nut to crack, but I’m looking forward to continuing the series. I’m also stopping on Lewis during the cruise, so I’ll see if I can find any of the locations from the book. Read 7 March to 3 April.