Saturday, January 23, 2010

My Lady Judge by Cora Harrison

The Burren on the western seaboard of Ireland was then, in the year of 1509, as it is  now, a land of stony fields and swirling mountain terraces. The people of the kingdom lived peacefully by the ancient Brehon laws of their forebears.

On the first eve of May hundreds of people from the Burren climbed the gouged-out limestone terraces of Mullaghmore Mountain to celebrate the great May Day festival, lighting a bonfire and singing and dancing through the night, then returning through the grey dawn to the safety of their homes.

But one man did not come back down the steeply spiralled path.

His body lay exposed to the ravens and wolves on the bare, lonely mountain for two nights . . . and no one spoke of him, or told what they had seen.

And when Mara, a woman appointed by King Turlough Don O’Brien to be judge and lawgiver to the stony kingdom, came to investigate, she was met with a wall of silence.

I love to read mysteries and when that is combined with an historical setting I can't resist adding them to my wish list. That was what happened with this book, I read a review somewhere and thought it might be interesting. It was!

The story is set in 16th century Ireland, Mara O'Davoren is a Brehon, a judge in the kingdom of Burren, and she runs a law school. Mara is an interesting woman and the glimpses we have of her past only made me more curious about her. She is a keen judge of character and has an interesting way of dealing with people. She is a bit displeased with her assistant, Colman, a nineteen year old that grew up in her law school but that is giving her an uneasy feeling in his dealings with the other.

On Bealtaine night Colman is found murdered in the mountain and nobody seems to have seen anything. Mara soon realises that her doubts regarding Colman were well founded that more than one person could have an interest in seeing him dead.

One of the things I liked most about the book was how it showed a different culture. Especially the legal aspect, since this is a mystery and the main character is a judge. In the story it is mentioned that the English law is based on Roman law and Celtic law isn't. Their approach to the crimes and the criminals is completely different and I thought that was very well explained here.

It is very easy to read as the author has a simple writing style and although it wasn't fast paced, I couldn't put it down because I found the setting so interesting.

Grade: 4/5


  1. I love anything pertaining to Ireland and I have read this book and have the second one on my tbr stack.. I eventually want all ofthe series...Great review!!

  2. This is on my TBR--the location alone makes me want to read! The history and culture of Celtic vs English law makes it even more interesting (er, that makes me sound completely geeky).

  3. The second review I've read this week of this book and it really appeals to me. It sounds great - I love the combination of history and mystery so this is a definite TBR.
    Great review - thank you!

  4. This sounds so interesting! :) Must put it on my wishlist!

  5. This is already on my TBR list. I really enjoyed your review!