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 – the Prendevilles, the noble family within, co-existing only as the balance of their secrets is kept.
Then, when an IRA ambush goes terribly wrong, Maud Prendeville, eldest daughter of Lord Kilcolgan, is killed, leaving the family reeling. Yet the IRA column insist they left her alive, that someone else must have been responsible for her terrible fate. Captain Tom Harkin, an IRA intelligence officer and Maud’s former fiancé, is sent to investigate, becoming 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, each family member’s 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 out the truth about Maud’s death before the past – and his strange, unnerving surroundings – overwhelm him?
My Thoughts on The Winter Guest
Sometimes, you can’t beat a good old ‘who dun it’, and that – for me – was what The Winter Guest was, with a somewhat unusual backdrop of the Troubles and a slightly spooky twist. Both of these made it more interesting and added depth to an otherwise simple story.
That doesn’t mean the story itself was a bad one. It wasn’t. It had all the ingredients I look for in this type of book. There were plenty of potential suspects and plenty of red herrings to throw the reader of the scent. While I had an inkling who the killer might be, I was never 100% certain.
I really liked Tom and I thought most of the other characters were well drawn (although I couldn’t quite figure out why some of them seemed to dislike Harkin so much, which was a bit frustrating – maybe I missed something or am just showing my ignorance of what life would have been like in Ireland at the start of the Troubles?).
Other than that, though – and the fact that with the ghostly element, this feels like a book I should have been reading closer to Halloween – I really enjoyed The Winter Guest. A recommended read and 4/5 stars.
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Please note: I received a copy of this book in return for a fair and honest review. All thoughts, feelings, and opinions are my own.
Sounds great, plus what a wonderful cover!
[…] reviewed three books this week, two of which I really enjoyed. First up was The Winter Guest by W. C. Ryan. Set in Northern Ireland at the end of World War I and the start of The Troubles, this was a clever […]