LitStack Recs: ‘Paris Stories’ and ‘The Book of Killowen’

The Book of Killowenrec
Erin Hart

A good mystery novel is not hard to find – there are many authors who excel in intrigue and a smart turn of events. But a mystery novel that has as its core ancient illuminated Irish manuscripts? That’s not one you run across every day!

Erin Hart’s newest novel “The Book of Killowen” is just that, with the discovery of an ancient body preserved for hundreds of years in the bog near Birr in Tipperary County, Ireland. The twist, however, is that the body of the ancient “bog man” is found in the trunk of a car, which has also been submerged in the bog. And that’s not all – there is another body in the trunk as well, and this one isn’t all that old…

The twists keep turning up. The area in which the bog is located is rife with ancient monasteries and known for its archeological finds. The modern dead man turns out to be an antiquities scholar, with an interest in ancient manuscripts and a penchant for public humiliation of others in his field. Add to that an artists’ colony full of seemingly wholesome people and dark secrets, blackmail spanning both years and countries, and a police inspector with her own heart rending domestic challenges, and you have a tale that is both intriguing and very, very human – with plenty of Latin thrown in to boot.

The story in “The Book of Killowen” has many evolving layers of mystery – perhaps even a few too many – and some surprising turns that will keep you guessing throughout. Add in some wonderful aspects of archaic knowledge and a fair share of lovely Irish lore, and you have a novel that will keep you engaged until the final page.

—Sharon Browning