The murdered body of Sorcha the prophetess is discovered following a lavish banquet at the Maguire castle in 16th-century Ireland. In the present day, a dig commences on the land, and not only is a body discovered, but a sheaf of prophecies. Who killed Sorcha?
There has been a guesthouse on the Tierney land in County Fermanagh for hundreds of years. Now Tierney’s Hotel is faced with a development that will block the hotel’s best feature, its view of Enniskillen Castle. But the project can be stopped if there are important historical artifacts buried on the property. Enter the archaeologists.
Mick’s ancestor, Brigid Tierney, ran the guesthouse in the late 1500s. We see Brigid and Shane and their children at a lavish banquet at the castle, home of the ruling family, the Maguires. The wine and ale flow freely, the harpist plays, the bard recites the Maguires’ heroic deeds. But one woman has a sense of foreboding. Sorcha the prophetess sees harrowing times ahead. The Tudors of England are determined to complete their brutal conquest of Ireland.
The morning after the banquet, Sorcha is found dead on a bed of oak leaves. And Shane is accused of the killing. His lawyer, Terence, conducts his defence on the hilltop that constitutes the court in 1595.
Ireland has had a complex and at times woeful history, and we see that history being played out in the lives of the Tierneys, past and present.
In 2018, the dig commences on Mick Tierney’s land. Historical artifacts? Yes. But also a sheaf of prophecies. And a body ? a bogman ? four hundred years old.
Anne Emery is a lawyer and the author of the Collins-Burke mystery series, which has won Arthur Ellis Awards for Best Novel and Best First Novel, as well as the Dartmouth Book Award for Fiction and an Independent Publisher Book Awards silver medal. “One of Canada’s finest novelists” (Ottawa Review of Books), she lives in Halifax, NS.
The Abbot of Drumlyon, Marcus Valerius, had enjoyed the sumptuous banquet at Enniskillen Castle. And so had one of his priests, Father Fiach O’Moylan. But what was Fiach up to late in the night? Marcus had been excited by the music and the dancing, the bright colours and the high humour of the evening, and had not been able to fall asleep. Just when it seemed he might drift into a peaceful slumber, he heard the sound of a horse’s hoofs approaching the abbey, followed soon afterwards by rapid footsteps outside the dormitory. As far as Marcus knew, all the monks were home and in bed. He got up and reached for a taper, then decided against lighting it; if the footsteps were those of an intruder, Marcus would be better off creeping around in darkness rather than lighting himself up as a target for possible mischief or worse. He stood for a moment, letting his eyes become accustomed to the dark, and then he left the room on silent feet and walked out into the corridor. Not a soul in sight. Holding the stone walls for support, he made his way through the abbey. Nobody in the chapter house, where meetings were held. He turned towards the library then, made his way past the abbey’s collection of books, some so valuable they were chained to the tables. He looked ahead and saw a candle flame at the far end of the room where there was a small scriptorium. Marcus proceeded with caution. He stopped well before the niche containing the desks and stood silent in the shadows.
Fiach O’Moylan was hunched over his desk with a sheet of vellum and a quill in his hand. A candle flickered on the desk, the only light in the darkness surrounding him. The priest was usually orderly in his appearance and demeanour; now, his hair was disheveled and his black scapular was flung off to the side. In contrast to his usual careful, deliberate style, he was writing swiftly and without correction. He was oblivious to the presence of Marcus watching him; his concentration was intense and complete. He filled one page, shoved it aside and picked up another, and continued his furious scribbling. The temptation to interrupt and demand to know what he was doing was almost overwhelming, but Marcus was a man well used to biding his time. Whatever this was, Marcus intended to read it. But not now, not when an interruption might throw the scribe off his course and bring his composition to a premature end. Fiach was unaware of him, and that suited Marcus. He backed away and made careful progress through the library, making sure he did not bump into anything that would betray his presence. He would find those pages in the morning, when Fiach was teaching his students. Marcus was the Abbot of Drumlyon, and he intended to discover what had bedevilled his fellow priest, causing him to record his thoughts like a man possessed.