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False Mermaid (Nora Gavin #3)

3.84 of 5 stars 3.84  ·  rating details  ·  1,511 ratings  ·  255 reviews

American pathologist Nora Gavin fled to Ireland three years ago, hoping that distance from home would bring her peace. Though she threw herself into the study of bog bodies and the mysteries of their circumstance
ebook, 336 pages
Published March 2nd 2010 by Scribner (first published 2010)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,610)
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Rating Clarification: 2.5 Stars

After enjoying the first two books in the series, this one, I'm sorry to say, was a disappointing read for me. Too many perfectly plotted coincidences, too much magical realism (which I enjoy when it makes sense within the context of a particular story - but not in this one), a tepid romance (I'm still not sold on Nora and Cormac's love story, regardless of how often Hart tells the reader that it is in the "soul mate" realm) and far too many eye-rolling moments w
So far I've really enjoyed Erin Hart's books, but this one was a disappointment, although I had no trouble finishing it. It just felt too over the top--too many overly tragic backstories, and character motivations and behavior seemed unrealistic. I knew things were going downhill when Nora, the heroine, found a book with spine turned inward at the St. Paul library, which had supposedly not been touched for five years. I don't know anything about their collection management practices, but I find ...more
I think this one was greater than the sum of its parts; I'd give this a 2.5 if I could. False Mermaid is the third Nora Gavin mystery. In Haunted Ground (which was lovely) and Lake of Sorrows (a solid mystery), we'd heard hints about Nora's murdered sister and the mark the unsolved mystery has left on her. False Mermaid has Nora traveling back to the US from Ireland in order to finally solve the mystery.

The cold case nature of the crime led to one of the book's weaknesses - I'm not sure that I b
I wanted to like this book more than I did. I wanted to be blown away by it based on a couple of reviews I'd read. But I was not blown away. I would like to have given it a 3.5 rating.

What didn't I like? I felt like the ending was supposed to be a surprise, but it was not. And the actions the characters took in the ending - I don't believe you, I don't believe you, oh, maybe I do believe you - seemed contrived.

There were elements of the mystical in the book, but they were not true mystical stuf
Maybe 3.25 stars. False Mermaid is better than the second book in this series and I do intend to continue on to read the fourth in the series. I am relieved to have the heroine's own personal mystery story line solved but there were a lot of crazy coincidences. These coincidences bring the rating down. Still False Mermaid is a decent tale that crosses through multiple settings -- Seattle, Minneapolis, and Ireland and weaves in Celtic myth, Celtic culture and magical realism. By these interwoven ...more
This book was a letdown for me. After two decent novels that I enjoyed, this one was so hard to get interested in. granted, Minnesota will never be as historically interesting as Ireland but the focus on the story being so much on the sister and her murder didn’t interest me. I really only continued to read two book for two reasons: One, book-obsession to complete the trilogy, and Two, to find out if she was wrong in her supposition that Peter was the murderer.

All of the Cormac sections were nea
Oct 12, 2009 Laura rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Laura by: Erin Hart sent me and Advance Reader Copy.
In False Mermaid, Nora Gavin returns to St. Paul for Ireland intent on finding out the truth of her sister's death. It took a little longer thatn usual for this one to catch me, but then I was caught up in the Twins run for the Pennant while I was reading. Nonetheless, having LOVED Erin's Haunted Ground and Lake of Sorrows, I kept on and found myself "mired" in the story as Nora skulks along the banks of the Mississippi looking for clues. Fans of the previous two books will be happy to know that ...more
This was my second read of this murder mystery cum faerie story. I know I've found a keeper when I can read a book multiple times, and even more so when it is a mystery. I love Erin's books because they flit gently over the boundary into imagination and back to reality effortlessly, taking me deeper into the feelings behind the facts. Her characters are fully fleshed, and her protagonists very likable. I love the settings both in the far away, ethereal Emerald Isle, and in the more familiar, but ...more
Kathleen Hagen
False Mermaid, by Erin Hart, b-plus, narrated by Roslyn Landor, produced by Audible Inc. and downloaded from

Nora, a pathologist, fled from her home in St. Paul to Ireland to put distance between herself and the murder of her sister-a murder that went unsolved. Nora has always believed that her brother-in-law planned and maybe committed the murder. She has finally gone back to Minnesota to try to put the mystery to rest. Also, she believes that her niece may be in danger from her fat
First Sentence: Death was close at hand, but the wounded creature leapt and twisted, desperate to escape.

Pathologist Nora Gavin has been working in Ireland and living with Cormac Maguire. Three years ago, her sister, Tríona, was murdered and although her husband, Peter, was suspected, nothing could be proven. Now that he’s about to remarry, Nora returns home afraid for both her niece, Elizabeth, and Peter’s fiancée, as well as determined to find out the truth. Back in Ireland, Cormac visits his
Pretty good read...more just for entertainment. In general, I'm not the biggest "mystery" fan. Same pet peeves as before with this author...unrealistic police type stuff. For example, detectives most definitely DO NOT drive around with the boxes of investigation files in their personal cars or allow the sister of a murdered victim to peruse them and help with the official part of the investigation. Also, the main character, Nora who is a Dr. seems to be a fairly intelligent person, yet she consi ...more
This was probably one of the most intriguing and well-written books I've read in a long time (and I read a lot of books). It had everything one would want from a novel: a unique and differentiated cast of characters, a plot that was part mystery, part thriller, part family drama, all wrapped up in a fascinating motif of Celtic myth and legend. This is one of those books that is a joy to open up each and every time while you're reading it and one for which you close the book at last with a great ...more
Every character in this book has a tragedy in their life. A parent who has lost a child; a child who has lost a parent; a man who loses a brother; a woman who has lost a sister; a man who is estranged from his father; a Cambodian refugee who lost his entire family - enough already! In addition to those tortured souls we have a very forced selkie plot line. Erin Hart's third Nora Gavin novel was just too much of everything. If it was her first book I suspect fewer people would have read book numb ...more
Kristi Lamont
I do so wish I'd liked this more than I did, because of the Ireland/magical/mystical aspect. As a detective procedural it was above average, but something about the characters just never clicked with me. Won't be reading any more in this series, but will go away pleased to have once again come across this important truth in fiction: "The barman smiled. 'Ah, sure, no one believes the old stories anymore. But like my granny used to say, that doesn't mean they aren't true.' "
This is a really odd book. When Triona Hallett is murdered, her sister Nora Gavin is certain that her brother-in-law Peter Hallett is responsible. After three years of trying to tie Peter to the murder, Nora leaves America and goes to Ireland. Another two years pass and Nora returns to the states to continue finding clues to prove Triona's murderer is Peter. Frank Cordova, the policeman that believed Peter did murder Triona had never quit trying to get more evidence in her murder. Nora tries to ...more
True rating 3.5 stars

I have enjoyed all the Nora Gavin books and this one was no exception, my only issue with this one was that there was almost too much going on. It seemed like every man character had something life changing going on which made it a little overwhelming. There was not only an A and B storyline but a C storyline as well and it dispersed my focus. That aside, I enjoyed the book and tore through it pretty quickly, if you liked the other books in the Nora Gavin series you will en
Albert Riehle
The cover boasts the entwining of Irish myth and murder mystery in minnesota. I suppose the Irish people in Minnesota might think that's a great idea but I didn't.

Blah, blah selpies. Blah, blah someone killed my sister and I've done nothing about it for 3 years. Blah, blah there's a hot Irish stud named Cormac. The end.
Aug 29, 2011 Tiffaney rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Tiffaney by: Kristen
The last of the Nora Gavin series, though we are hoping for more installments.

I loved the weaving of the plot line and couldn't predict what was coming next, unlike with most books I read. The author brought the idea of bog bodies to the States, which I wasn't expecting either. Highly recommended.
May 18, 2010 Karlan rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Karlan by: Bill Ott
Shelves: adult
I read few mysteries, but this one was hard to put aside. The Irish selkie legends and a 19th c murder are entwined with a contemporary crime in Minnesota. The characters seem real and the plot scary as the heroine comes closer to a solution.
This is the third book in the Nora Gavin/Cormac Maguire. Well, I liked it fine, found it entertaining and suspenseful. However, there were aspects that just did not sit well with me. Here is one - Nora goes to the library 5 years after her sister's death and discovers a book with the spine facing in and a paper tucked within the pages that is pertinent to her sister's case. What!? That wouldn't happen in our library. Also, there was the one-eyed seal in the waters of Seattle and in the waters of ...more
A bit too much serendipity and seal intervention for my taste, but I kept turning the pages to see how it would turn out. A satisfying tale.
My blog post about this book is at this link.
I really like these books involving American pathologist Nora Gavin, with the crossover with Ireland where she has partnered up with Cormac Mcguire to study bog bodies. There is the unsolved murder of her sister, Triona, in Minnesota. In this book, she is drawn back to investigate whether her brother-in-law is responsible, and whether her niece is now at risk. I may have read this one before, but some time ago (published 2011) so possible. I'll know soon. I had read this book before, as well as ...more
Clarissa Simmens
Lovely, mystical mystery with an unfamiliar (to me) folklore component.
I read this book after reading the others in the series, and I am glad that I borrowed it, and not bought it.

Erin Hart has some interesting approaches within the book, but I could not shake the feeling that everything was slightly too convenient. Sloppy police work I could understand, but everything magically falling into place, and clues that stuck around for years after the murder that only the main character was smart enough to find?

I was also pretty disappointed Cormac showed up. It felt li
The best of the series so far. Toggles between Ireland and America-lots of interesting new characters. Definitely redeemed the series-I'll be starting on book #4 tomorrow!

"American pathologist Nora Gavin fled to Ireland three years ago, hoping that distance from home would bring her peace. Though she threw herself into the study of bog bodies and the mysteries of their circumstances, she was ultimately led back to the one mystery she was unable to solve: the murder of her sister, Tríona. Nora ca
Toni Osborne
Book 3 in the Nora Gavin Mysteries

The novel is a wonderful follow up to "Lake of Sorrow", where once more the author has skilfully combined Irish mythology into a murder mystery.

The story opens where the prequel ended with Nora on her way back to the USA. She is determined once home to review the details and crack open the cold case of her sister's murder that has been haunting her for years. At the same time, when another body with similar trauma is discovered, Frank Cordova, the original pol
Kathleen Valentine
I had a very mixed reaction to this book. The writing was fine -- neither noteworthy nor annoying -- and the story held my interest. At least part of it did. Nora Gavin, a pathologist who has been working in Ireland for five years following the murder of her sister, returns to her home in Minnesota leaving behind her lover Cormac. Nora has learned that her sister's husband, whom she suspects of being the killer but who has never been arrested for lack of evidence, is about to re-marry and Nora i ...more
Dennis Weeks
A fine book on the Irish and their sense of time.
A few years ago I visited the Dublin street where my great great grandparents lived during the 19th century. I began chatting with one of the current residents of the street, a woman of about 65. She bent down and pointed to a spot under a parked car."That's where the Black & Tans captured Kevin Barry, you know. One of the more foolish neighbors had seen him scoot under a car and called out to him, 'Kevin Barry what are you doing under that ca
The third book in the Nora Gavin series starts closely after the events of the second book. Nora has returned to St. Paul, MN to further look into the death of her sister, Triona. She is shocked to hear that her brother-in-law (her primary suspect for the murder) is about to get re-married, and she continues to worry about the safety of her niece, Elizabeth. When the body of another young woman is discovered with similarities to Triona's case, Nora digs into the details. Interwoven with the stor ...more
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ERIN HART'S archaeological crime novels are set in the mysterious boglands of Ireland. She introduced pathologist Nora Gavin in one of the most lauded mystery debuts of 2003: HAUNTED GROUND (2003), was a Booksense 76 pick, won the Friends of American Writers award and Romantic Times' Best First Mystery, was shortlisted for Anthony and Agatha awards, and translated into ten foreign languages. LAKE ...more
More about Erin Hart...

Other Books in the Series

Nora Gavin (4 books)
  • Haunted Ground (Nora Gavin, #1)
  • Lake of Sorrows (Nora Gavin, #2)
  • The Book of Killowen (Nora Gavin, #4)

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“We’re made out of the water, the earth, the air of the places that fed our ancestors, quenched their thirst, the basic elements of the places that gave them life. Is it really so strange if we feel the heave and pitch of those places, even centuries later, in the vibrations of our atoms?” 1 likes
“From the poorest places came the richest music—it had always been that way.” 1 likes
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