- Book Beginnings on Fridays hosted by Rose City Reader, where bloggers share the first sentence or more of a current read, as well as initial thoughts about the sentence(s), impressions of the book, or anything else that the opening inspires.
- The Friday 56 hosted by Freda's Voice, where you grab a book and turn to page 56 (or 56% of an eBook), find one or more interesting sentences (no spoilers), and post them.
Today I'm featuring a recent read, The Winter Guest by W.C. Ryan. The excerpts shared are from a hardcover edition borrowed from the library.
Beginning: Kilcolgan House stands at the end of the long drive, caught by a moment of moonlight. Its granite walls, slick with the earlier rain, shine silver; its roof glows; its many large windows are like mirrors to the sky.
Page 56: In his absence, it seems to Harkin that the shadows in the room grow closer.
My thoughts: The Winter Guest is an atmospheric murder mystery set in Ireland during the country's civil war. When Maud Prendeville, rebel and IRA hero of the 1916 Easter Rising against British forces, is murdered in an IRA ambush on the grounds of her family's home, Tom Harkin, undercover IRA intelligence officer and Maud's former fiancé, is sent from Dublin to investigate.
Who killed Maud? The IRA claim she survived the ambush and wasn't their target. Is the murderer a member of the British army, or was a friend, neighbor, relative, or spurned lover responsible? Can Tom extract justice for Maud despite being haunted by his memories of her and being impaired by flashbacks from his time in the trenches during World War I?
Kilcolgan House, the once-opulent manor where much of the story takes place, is a prominent presence, with ghosts and shadows lurking around every corner. Behind the scenes machinations and the revelation of well-kept secrets move the plot along at a good pace, leading to an unexpected conclusion.
********************From GoodReads: January 1921. Though the Great War is over, in Ireland a new civil war is raging. The once-grand Kilcolgan House, a crumbling bastion shrouded in sea mist, lies half empty and filled with ghosts, both real and imagined, while it shelters the surviving members of the Prendeville family. Then, when an IRA ambush goes terribly wrong, Maud Prendeville, Lord Kilcolgan’s eldest daughter, is killed, leaving the family reeling. Yet the IRA column behind the attack insists they left her alive, that someone else must be responsible for her terrible fate. Captain Tom Harkin, an IRA intelligence officer and Maud's former fiancé, is sent to investigate. He becomes an unwelcome guest in this strange, gloomy household.
Working undercover, Harkin must delve into the house's secrets—and discover where, in this fractured, embattled town, allegiances truly lie. But Harkin too is haunted by the ghosts of the past and by his terrible experiences on the battlefields. Can he find the truth about Maud's death before the past—and his strange, unnerving surroundings—overwhelm him?
The Winter Guest is a gripping and immersive read for fans of classic mysteries by the likes of Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers along with Charles Todd’s Ian Rutledge series, Ann Cleeves, and Jacqueline Winspear.