Death of a Prominent Citizen by Cora Harrison (Reverend Mother Mystery #7)
English | 2020 | Mystery & Thriller | ePUB | 2.7 MB
Cora Harrison worked as a headteacher before she decided to write her first novel. She has since published twenty-six children’s novels. My Lady Judge was her first book in a Celtic historical crime series for adults that introduces Mara, Brehon of the Burren. Cora lives on a farm near the Burren in the west of Ireland.
Money is the root of all evil, according to the Reverend Mother – but is it the motive for her cousin’s murder?
Wealthy widow Charlotte Hendrick had always promised that her riches would be divided equally between her seven closest relatives when she died. Now she has changed her mind and summoned her nearest and dearest, including her cousin, the Reverend Mother, to her substantial home on Bachelor’s Quay to inform them of her decision. As Mrs Hendrick’s relatives desperately make their case to retain a share of her wealth, riots break out on the quays outside as the flood waters rise … The following morning, a body is discovered in the master bedroom, its throat cut. Could there be a connection to the riots of the night before – or does the killer lie closer to home? In her efforts to uncover the truth, the Reverend Mother unearths a tale of greed, cruelty, forbidden passion … and cold-blooded malice.
The Reverend Mother shifted uneasily in her chair. The chair itself was not at fault. The committee dealing with slum clearance in Cork met in the luxurious surroundings of the Imperial Hotel on the South Mall of the city, and the chair, like everything else in the Imperial Hotel, was superbly comfortable. It was the typed figures before her that had caused unease. On average twelve families live in each house; she read the words without much surprise, but with a feeling of deep sadness.
It seemed extraordinary and deeply depressing. Years had gone by since Ireland had attained its freedom. And now over two hundred people were living along a city lane in thirteen houses that were declared to be, not only unfit for human habitation, but incapable of being rendered fit for human habitation. Four or five storeys high, relics of the long-gone Georgian age, these houses were sinking back into the marshy soil beneath them.
And then her eyes narrowed as her attention was caught by another sheet of paper. She picked up the page again. There must be some mistake. ‘Sixty-one families,’ she said aloud. ‘Surely sixty-one families amount to more than two hundred people.’
‘We count each family as three and one-third units, Reverend Mother,’ said the bishop’s secretary with an air of pride in his superior mathematical ability.
The Reverend Mother thought about the families in her school, thought about the children, those long lines of numerous brothers and sisters – units, she supposed that she should call them – all playing on the steps of those appalling houses, and their parents, more units, she supposed …
‘In my experience an average family would number about twelve, not three and one-third,’ she said sharply. ‘So you could have up to seven hundred persons in those thirteen houses.’ Her own figures appalled her, but she thought they were more accurate than those which had been produced for the committee to examine.
There was a murmur from those sitting around the table drawn up in front of a cosy fire. The Reverend Mother’s position in the hierarchy of Cork, her forcible personality, her reputation for speaking her mind, made them reluctant to contradict her, but all looked deeply uncomfortable. Only one was brave enough to speak out.
‘Dear Reverend Mother,’ said Julie Clancy, ‘God in his mercy tempers the wind to the shorn lamb. You forget that, although it may be true that a frightening amount of children are born to that class of people, many die in the early years.’
‘To be replaced by others,’ said the Reverend Mother, trying to put to the back of her mind the human suffering involved in these births and deaths.