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Cruel Winter: A County Cork Mystery (edition 2017)

by Sheila Connolly (Author)

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188561,019 (3.67)1
Member:Kris_Anderson
Title:Cruel Winter: A County Cork Mystery
Authors:Sheila Connolly (Author)
Info:Crooked Lane Books (2017), 304 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***
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Winters Past: A County Cork Mystery by Sheila Connolly

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CRUEL WINTER by Shelia Connolly is the fifth book in the County Cork Mysteries series.
I like this ‘cozy mystery’ series. I think I like that it takes place in Ireland - County Cork, Ireland - an area I have visited several times. The place names are familiar and the settings interesting.
It is a bit of a leap to call these titles mysteries. There is very little ‘mystery’ and even less tension and suspense. But it is pleasant, relaxing reading and doesn’t require much interaction between the reader and the plot and characters.
In this title, CRUEL WINTER, a serious blizzard is making travel impossible and several people end up at Sullivan’s (the pub that Maura Donovan surprisingly inherited from her grandmother several months previous) for the night.
One visitor to Sullivan’s on this snowy evening is Diane Caldwell. Although never formally accused, Diane was suspected of a murder which happened locally over twenty years before.
For something to do during the stormy night, Maura organizes a discussion of the old murder and patrons try to puzzle out the real culprit of the murder of Diane’s neighbor all those years ago.
Our main character, Maura, frustrates me. Her personality is very inconsistent. One minute she is whining and moaning about all her obligations and how can she manage the pub and the next minute, she is bossing everyone around, firing off questions, being assertive and pushy and taking charge of solving a cold case murder. This is a person who hasn’t been to the city of Cork yet which is only 1 hour away; doesn’t know how to buy food or supplies for the pub; is always moaning about taxes, licensing and beer deliveries; and is seemingly bewildered as to how to buy a coat.
One minute I like Maura and am interested in her, and the next second, I feel like throttling her for being so ‘out of it’ and helpless.
All cozy mysteries frustrate me with their lack of tension and consistency, but they are like old, familiar friends one can’t seem to part with.
Try one out and decide! ( )
  diana.hauser | Apr 15, 2017 |
I always love a good locked room story, so when a snowstorm threatens tiny Leap, in Ireland, everyone in town and at Maura Donovan's pub battens down the hatches to prepare, I was ready to be entertained. Not wanting to turn any travelers away, Maura keeps the pub open and is rewarded with several folks, looking to ride out the storm. One is discovered as the chief suspect in a two decades old murder. In this framework, Diane relates the story of what happened the night of that long ago murder, with help from the long memories of some townsfolk. The groups acts as jury, with Maura in charge, all listening and proposing other ideas of how the crime may have been committed. And while it got a bit repetitious, I liked how they group was able to come to other conclusions. Although the fifth in a long running series, it would read well alone because of the way this story is told. ( )
  ethel55 | Mar 21, 2017 |
A freak winter snow-storm strands employees, regulars and assorted others at Sullivan’s Pub in County Cork, Ireland. American owner Maura Donovan is concerned at first about food, heat and sleeping space – but it eventually comes down to keeping the group occupied while awake. Turns out one of the strangers at Sullivan’s, Diane Caldwell, was suspected of the murder of a neighbor 20 years earlier. She was questioned by police but never charged and the suspicion has been hanging over her head.

Maura suggests and everyone agrees it would be good to hear Diane’s story – her side, which was never aired at the time of the crime. By coincidence, a police officer who was a newcomer to the force 20 years ago is among the strangers, too. As the evening progresses, new facts and opinions arise as to who could have been the murderer.

I’ve read all the books in this series, and must say this is the best yet. Readers who like more action in their mysteries might want to pass on Cruel Winter. As for me, I don’t mind a story that unwinds slowly, mostly by dialogue, including internal dialogue. I must applaud the author for carrying it off in such stellar fashion. ( )
  NewsieQ | Mar 17, 2017 |
Cruel Winter by Sheila Connolly is the sixth book in A County Cork Mystery series. Maura Donovan owns Sullivan’s Pub in Leap, Ireland. Maura inherited the pub from Old Mick Sullivan nine months ago, after the death of her grandmother. This is Maura’s first winter is Ireland and she is unprepared (she had originally only planned to spend a week in Ireland). Maura heads to Sullivan’s to check in with Mick Nolan, her bartender. A big snow storm is expected to come through that night and Maura is unsure what to do to prepare for it (she is from Boston where they have big snowstorms frequently). It turns out that other people do not want to stay home alone during the storm and decide to visit the pub. One of pub’s patrons turns out to be Diane Wolfe Caldwell. Diane was questioned in the murder of her neighbor, Sharon Morgan twenty years ago. In the court of public opinion, Diane was found guilty. The murder is still unsolved. Maura decides that this is the perfect opportunity to hear Diane’s story and get some answers (Maura wants to prove that Diane did not commit the crime).

Cruel Winter is nicely written and can be read alone (the author provides the necessary background information on Maura and how she ended up in Ireland). I did, though, find the pace of the novel to be extremely slow. The story takes place over the course of one day (a very long, drawn out day). I give Cruel Winter 3 out of 5 stars. The mystery is one that plays out over the course of the novel. Most readers will be able to figure out the whodunit before the reveal. I did find some elements of the story to be unrealistic. Maura knew winter was coming, but she has no winter clothes (wouldn’t you purchase some clothes if you did not bring them with you). Maura has been responsible for the pub for nine months, but she has no clue how it is run. I found it odd that after living in Boston, Maura has no idea on how to prepare for a storm (making sure you have fuel, food, batteries, blankets, water). There is some information that is repeated throughout the novel (how Maura only planned to stay in Ireland one week and facts about the murder). For some reason, Maura felt it necessary to keep recapping the facts presented about the murder. I found Cruel Winter to be atypical for Sheila Connolly. I have read her other cozy mysteries and enjoyed them. In future books of A County Cork Mystery series I would like to see Maura start to grow up and take responsibility. In Cruel Winter, we do get to catch up with Jimmy, Rose, Mick, Gillian, Harry, Sean, Eveline, and Old Billy. ( )
  Kris_Anderson | Mar 9, 2017 |
This was the first book I've read in the County Cork Mystery series and also my first book by Sheila Connolly. The book series is about Boston native, Maura Donovan, who has moved to Ireland after her grandmother's death, and now is the owner of a pub in town after she inherited it from her grandmother's friend. Winter has moved in, and moved in fast. Snow has stranded about 10 people in the pub overnight, with nothing else to do than solve a twenty year old murder mystery.

That in itself, sounds like a great book to me. I liked the characters, the town, and the murder mystery story a lot. The characters had great depth, and I really felt like I knew them. I want to know where Rose, Mick, and Gillian's stories go. The town sounds like a place I want to visit. I want these people to be my neighbors!

However, this was really hard for me to read. I felt like a lot of the book was characters just repeating themselves. They even said a few times, "Like I said before..." Or they would recap (often) where they left off before taking a break. This caused me to skim some pages, because I didn't want to read the same things again, but I didn't miss anything by doing this either.

I really wanted to like this more, because the murder mystery story is a really interesting one... And I definitely didn't know who had dunnit. But it did leave my a little disappointed.

I received this book from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review. ( )
  Maggie.Chavarria | Mar 6, 2017 |
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