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A Secret and Unlawful Killing (Burren Mysteries #2)

3.97  ·  Rating Details  ·  313 Ratings  ·  44 Reviews
It is 1509 and, for the people of the Burren in western Ireland, the Michaelmas Fair is a joyous time for trade and celebration, signaling the start of autumn.It’s a chance to gather, buy and sell their wares, and pay tribute to the lord of their clans.But this year is different. The greedy steward of the MacNamara clan has decided to raise the amount demanded for its trib ...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published September 16th 2008 by Minotaur Books (first published January 1st 2008)
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Feb 05, 2016 Alice rated it it was amazing
Excellent book 2. The mysteries are cleverly woven giving little hints how future historical events will effect this series. The romance with Mara and the King is charming and tastefully done. I love her reasoning. Just a very good read.
Margo Brooks
Apr 21, 2012 Margo Brooks rated it really liked it
I found the first hundred pages or so of this novel difficult. There were a lot of medieval Irish words, there was a lot of discussion about Irish kin and political systems. But, the last two hundred pages I read in one continuous sitting. I've read a lot of historical fiction about the worlds of the Tutors, but never anything about Ireland. Learning about how different that world was was a great experience. I also enjoyed the characters--a female judge/law teacher and her small hoard of young s ...more
Feb 03, 2016 Katie rated it liked it
The second of the Burren series of medieval Irish mysteries, this novels follows fairly closely the plot and flow of the first, but didn’t feel particularly formulaic, since new characters and conflicts are introduced. There is some redundancy in describing the Brehon law, but as I read the first and second novels back to back, this may have been more noticeable to me. I appreciated seeing the growth in character of the young scholars that were first introduced in the previous novel. However, I ...more
Feb 04, 2016 Sarah rated it it was amazing
I'm in love with this author, and with Mara, the main character of this series. Mara is a Brehon, a female judge in Ireland, and, in this novel, she's solving murders (of course!) and trying to decide if she should give up everything she has to marry a king. I have a feeling she won't--she's thinking about a marriage in the 4th degree, where they both would keep their own homes and meet whenever they need to, to, um, act like a married couple.

The more I learn about ancient Gaelic law, the more
This is a murder mystery set in the west of Ireland in the early 16th century.

The book starts off slow, but then I found it unputdownable at the end.

The murder mystery is good with plenty of false leads and twists to keep us guessing and engaged.

The historical perspective explores the Irish system of hierarchy and society before English law came into force. In particular the Brehon laws are explained - though perhaps a tad overly so. (Editor - where are you?) The differences between the English
Harrison, Cora – 2nd in series
Macmillan, 2008, UK Hardcopy – ISBN: 9781405092258

First Sentence: The kingdom of the Burren was then an isolated place, with the Atlantic Ocean guarding its northern and western coast, and the broad sweep of the River Shannon encircling its eastern and southern sides.

November 1509 brings the Michaelmas Fair to the kingdom of Burren. It is also time for the citizens to pay tribu
Clare O'Beara
This story deals with a lady Brehon judge in early Ireland. The setting is the limestone Burren area on the Atlantic shore.
At Michaelmas time a countryside chieftain collects a tribute from his followers. The man who goes around with the cart collecting is not popular and some say he gathers too much of goods.
A murder occurs on the dark lonely roads, amid jealousies, feuds and romances, and the lady lawgiver decides to investigate.

Mainly I thought the story could be improved by a map. At lot o
Pam Bales
Jan 22, 2016 Pam Bales rated it it was amazing
Shelves: celtic, burren
Second in the Medieval Ireland series set at the beginning of the reign of Henry VIII, the Irish still have their own laws and Mara is the Brehon of the Burren and judges with the consent of the king. It is pretty awesome to see a different sort of legal system, which worked for the Irish for centuries before England forced a change. This is a lovely historical fiction series.
Jun 14, 2011 Spuddie rated it really liked it
#2 Burren historical mystery featuring the Brehon Mara. When the unpopular steward of clan MacNamara is found murdered in a churchyard the day after the Michealmas faire, it's up to Mara to determine who killed him and enforce the Brehon laws that have governed Ireland for centuries. A second death complicates matters, but the miller Aengus may actually have been killed before the steward. Mara can't help but believe they are somehow connected, but has difficulty figuring out who had motive, mea ...more
This is the 2nd book to feature Brehon Mara. I thought the 1st, "My Lady Judge," was a bit too obvious in terms of how the relationships between the recurring characters would play out. This book is somewhat better in that regard, although at certain turning points in the plot there was no uncertainty in my mind how characters would behave. On the other hand, as far as I know the setting is unique (the Sister Fidelma books take place in the 7th century; these take place in the 16th). So if you'r ...more
Sep 08, 2015 Jennifer rated it it was ok
I just have not been pulled into this book and I think I am done with this series. I would lose track of which kin group was which easily and Mara was getting on my nerves with (view spoiler) ...more
Mar 29, 2009 Diane rated it liked it
Interesting. The author writes of two murders taking place in Ireland in 1509, just before Henry VIII became King. Ireland was still independent, ruled by Kings and clans. The lawyers and judges were called Brehon, and in this story, the judge is a woman. She is second only to the King in terms of status and power. The story was okay, and the character's solving of the murders was interesting, but what appealed to me most was that women in Ireland were equal to men in many respects. After Englis ...more
May 22, 2015 Beth rated it it was amazing
I really enjoy these books. The clan law before Ireland became Anglicized seems so sensible. Crime solving before CSI and modern technology makes one realize how relationships and basic values are so important to whether a person will commit crimes. The judgement of the Brehon are so well though out and the Brehon being a woman demonstrates the respect for position all members of the clans held dear
Feb 23, 2010 Pumpkinbear rated it liked it
I'm a sucker for medieval fiction, and although I think it's a stretch, at best, to describe this as "medieval"--it's after 1500, for gawd's sake!--the location of Ireland allows the setting to work for the late Middle Ages.

Sure, the book was on the fluffy side, but it flowed well and was a quick read, with an entertaining juxtaposition between the heroine's dual careers as judge/lawer/investigator and head of a law school that consists mainly of young boys. You've got some good professional wom
Feb 14, 2016 Susie rated it really liked it
Oh do I like Cora Harrison. I already have a purchase order in for the next book in this series.
Apr 18, 2015 Jill rated it really liked it
Really enjoying this series!!!
Mar 15, 2014 Arthur rated it liked it
Well done. She is becoming my favorite middle ages murder mystery writer. Good story, interesting cultural setting, especially the Brehon law codes.
Jan 08, 2015 Yaël rated it really liked it
Aug 20, 2014 Kirsten rated it liked it
Shelves: tudor-historical
Decent story, but a bit plodding.
Gene Cummins
Oct 25, 2015 Gene Cummins rated it it was amazing
Another great mystery . . . . and another teaching tale of the history of Ireland. The ending was a real surprise! Looking forward to the next book in the series.
Kilian Metcalf
May 23, 2014 Kilian Metcalf rated it really liked it
I'm not sure which is more appealing, the Brehon laws or the Brehon herself, my lady judge Mara. These books make 16th-century Ireland an appealing place, especially for women. Women enjoyed more freedom and status than at any other time or place. The murder mystery is incidental to the setting and characters IMHO. This is a reread, and picking up on details I missed the first time through add to the enjoyment. Mara is a delight.
Fallon Stanton
May 06, 2012 Fallon Stanton rated it really liked it
A good mystery. If you can relax your mind enough to breeze through the Gaelic words/pronunciation it is a quick read that keeps the reader guessing and wanting more. Not your typical mystery cliff hanger, no action or adventure scenes, but I think more true to life for the most part (how many fiery car chases do detectives really go through in a day?). Good imagery and historical information. I would read more in the series.
Once again Harrison has presented a mystery that's infused with the feeling of ancient Ireland. Like in the best historical fiction, the time and place are integral to Harrison's story.

The characters continue to grow and change. The pace is leisurely but not slow. And I really enjoyed the bits of Brehon law. Those glimpses of Celtic law helped ground me in medieval Ireland.

I eagerly await Mara's next case.
Sally Smith
Jun 08, 2010 Sally Smith rated it really liked it
This is a great mystery series set in ancient Celtic Ireland with a female judge (Brehon) who is the sleuth. There is another series, the Sister Fidelma series, which also features a female judge in medieval Ireland, but I believe this series by Cora Harrison is much, much better. I enjoy learning about how the ancient Celtic clans ruled themselves- very practical and sensible. We could learn a lot from them!
Kate Bolton
A historical whodunnit that gave an insight into a piece of Irish history but mainly focused on the characters living that history. Easy and enjoyable to read with some simple explainations of historical law and social settings.

The plot followed exciting twists and turns that concluded well but left me wanting to know more of the characters and their futures.
Sep 13, 2012 Oonagh rated it liked it
Enjoyable tale of murder in the West of Ireland prior to the coming of Henry viii to Ireland, so Ireland is still widely under Brehon Law. The insights into how justice functioned in Ireland prior to English law was very interesting. The characters introduced in the first of the trilogy are filled out a bit more in this book and all in all a pleasant easy read.
Jul 20, 2014 Tessa rated it really liked it
Another excellent mystery and I enjoyed the characterisation of the judge and her pupils and the king of Ireland in Mediaeval
Times. I like the way the chapters explain the folklore of the time and will definitely continue to follow the series.
Sep 18, 2013 Nancy rated it liked it
I think I am enjoying the historical references of these novels maybe even more than the mystery aspect. I really did not know much about Ireland in the 1500s and their laws and communities are very intriguing to me.
Jan 27, 2010 Alicia rated it liked it
An enjoyable and interesting mystery; I wish that the author had spent a bit more time describing the medieval Irish countryside, customs and culture. All in all I found this to be pretty well plotted and well written.
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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.

More about Cora Harrison...

Other Books in the Series

Burren Mysteries (1 - 10 of 13 books)
  • My Lady Judge (Burren Mysteries, #1)
  • The Sting of Justice (Burren Mysteries, #3)
  • Writ in Stone (Burren Mysteries, #4)
  • Eye of the Law (Burren Mysteries, #5)
  • Scales of Retribution (Burren Mysteries #6)
  • Deed of Murder (Burren Mysteries #7)
  • Laws in Conflict (Burren Mysteries #8)
  • Chain of Evidence (Burren Mysteries #9)
  • Cross of Vengeance (Burren Mysteries #10)
  • Verdict of the Court (Burren Mysteries #11)

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