Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Book Review: Laws in Conflict

Laws in ConflictLaws in Conflict by Cora Harrison

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The latest in the series The Burren Mysteries about Mara the “lady judge” (or the “brehon” in Gaelic) crackles with suspense and good humor as Mara and her scholars of the law school visit Galway, the English-only stronghold in the south of Ireland. What starts out as a mission of mercy to reclaim an aged, mentally ill countryman from the clutches of “English law” turns into a full-blown murder investigation, with Mara and her crew exercising their charm, wits and intelligence to solve the puzzle and save an innocent life. I’ve never read Harrison’s novels before, but I’m going to go back and start with the first one, My Lady Judge, and settle in for a long, satisfying journey to the 16th century world she depicts so well. Each chapter starts with a quotation from a law book or scholarly tome of the time that is enlightening and fascinating as it explores the many differences between Irish and English law customs and reasoning. Harrison is clearly on the side of the Irish when it comes to a choice between, for instance, use of the death penalty or belief in the power of repentance and restitution, and her brehon Mara makes it more than clear why the Irish way is better. A great read, informative and entertaining from start to finish. (original review published in Historical Novel Society Review, Dec. 2012)

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