A cozy mystery set in the beautiful location of Galway, Ireland, Murder in Galway by Carlene O’Connor delivers a strong sense of place and character. This is a first in a new series by the author of the Irish Village Mystery series.

Tara Meehan arrives in Galway to complete a sad mission – spread her mother’s ashes and meet her uncle, Johnny, to break the news of his sister’s passing. Right from the start, things go awry. Her mother’s ashes are spilled, a gypsy delivers a warning that Tara is surrounded by death, and she discovers a body in her uncle’s cottage. Written in the victim’s blood is a name – Tara.

Initially, Tara believes the dead body is her uncle. It was an honest mistake, and one the villagers should forgive her for making. After all, she had never met Johnny Meehan and the body was in his cottage. She soon learns it is a wealthy client of her uncle’s architectural salvage business, Emmet, who was bludgeoned to death by a cast iron pig. Even worse, Johnny Meehan is the primary suspect.

Tara soon learns not everyone in town was a fan of her uncle. In fact, villagers think Johnny had acted erratically in the weeks leading up to Emmet’s murder. Tara, however, doesn’t believe her uncle could be a killer, despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, and she is determined to solve the crime.

By her side is the enigmatic and utterly handsome, Danny, and her uncle’s Irish wolfhound, Hound. Too bad Tara can’t allow herself to fall for Danny. She hasn’t cleared him from her list of suspects!

It took me a chapter or two to immerse myself in the mystery. I didn’t initially “bond” with Tara as a character. Her voice and personality seemed “older” than her described age of early 30s. This slight bump in my reading was worth ignoring because it didn’t detract from the mystery. She was a little naive for someone from New York City, but part of the charm of cozy mysteries is the innocent nature of their amateur sleuths.

The clues tie together nicely at the end, and there were a few that I didn’t pick up on that the author expertly weaved in at the conclusion. The villain was one I fingered earlier on in the novel, but then dismissed as a possible suspect which left me still satisfied once Tara confronted them at the end.

I would recommend this book for readers who like cozy mysteries set in charming villages with a hint of romance. I would certainly buy the next book in the series from this author. I’m also excited to add Carlene O’Connor to my list of “to read” authors.

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