Haunted Ground (Nora Gavin, #1)
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Haunted Ground (Nora Gavin #1)

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3.71 of 5 stars 3.71  ·  rating details  ·  3,464 ratings  ·  478 reviews
A dazzling debut -- already an international publishing sensation -- combining forensics, history, archaeology, and suspense.
Introducing Erin Hart, who brings the beauty, poignancy, mystery, and romance of the Irish countryside to her richly nuanced first novel.

When farmers cutting turf in a peat bog make a grisly discovery -- the perfectly preserved severed head of a yo...more
Hardcover, 328 pages
Published April 29th 2003 by Scribner Book Company (first published November 1st 1999)
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Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourtIn the Woods by Tana FrenchThe Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar WildeUlysses by James JoyceDubliners by James Joyce
Best Irish Books
22nd out of 361 books — 330 voters
Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourtCircle of Friends by Maeve BinchyIn the Woods by Tana FrenchDaughter of the Forest by Juliet MarillierTara Road by Maeve Binchy
Best Fiction Set in Ireland
27th out of 281 books — 224 voters


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Community Reviews

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Almeta
In books with historical content, I need to trust that the author has done the research. I did look up a few things, but trusted Erin Hart on several points. Being educated about Bog People and their preservation was really interesting. Considering the destruction of the peat bog in favor of a fuel source for personal use and profit versus the environmental impact of the harvesting of an un-renewable resource was also a thought provoking topic. I’m surprised more was not said about the flora and...more
Marty
Haunted Ground is a book chosen by one of the book groups I am a member of. It is a book I would have probably overlooked on my own. Generally speaking I am not inclined to read gothic mysteries. That said, this is a pretty good book that has history and archaeology interwoven in a suspenseful plot with not one, but two, mysteries. The first centers around a severed head recovered from an Irish peat bog, the other concerning a missing woman and child from a nearby estate.

Most enjoyable to me ar...more
Athira (Reading on a Rainy Day)
I finished reading this book at lunch yesterday, but since then I have been puttering around gathering my thoughts. The truth is, right after finishing it, I was not sure what I felt. I definitely felt relieved, since there was a lot of jargon in it that I didn't care for, but I know I enjoyed it too.

Firstly, this is not an easy book to get into initially. I read the first page of the book many times before I felt comfortable in going ahead. The first page is the most important page for me. I wo...more
Hannah
Rating Clarification: 3.5 Stars

Haunted Ground is a very decent debut novel by writer Erin Hart. I enjoy reading stories where they have a historical subplot running along side of the present day story (in this case, the identity of a well preserved, decapitated head found in an Irish bog).

Hart's writing is easy to cosy up to, and her characters are well drawn and interesting. The slight romantic component was probably my least favorite aspect of the book. It seemed a little forced, and didn't ad...more
Debra
I thought this was a pretty good first book for this author. It was a bit slow in the middle after the surprising beginning of finding the red-head's head in the bog. Like others have said, I loved learning about bog bodies and some of the history of Ireland. The suspense began to build up after book 2 (this average-sized book is broken down into 3 "books"). (view spoiler) Pretty enjoyable read.
Nancy Oakes
A local farmer digging peat for fuel in Drumcleggan Bog comes across a woman's head, complete with a full head of red hair. It is not long until the police show up at the scene, then not long after that until Hugh Osborne, a local, shows up, wanting to see if the head is that of his missing wife. His wife had gone into town one day, bought their little boy a pair of new red boots, then disappeared on their way home. Osborne had no alibi and became the chief suspect. However, with no clues, the l...more
Robert Beveridge
Erin Hart, Haunted Ground (Scribner's, 2003)

Erin Hart's first novel, Haunted Ground, shows some of the hallmarks of a first novel, but fortunately sheds them as the pages turn, and we end up with quite a fine read here. If you picked this up and couldn't get past the first few pages, press on. Trust me on this.

The story revolves around an ensemble of characters, but the central two (who seem to be becoming a detective team, as Ms. Hart's website informs us that she is working on a second novel f...more
Donna
When a pair of scientists go to investigate an ancient body discovered in a bog, they stumble into a more modern mystery in a small Irish community.

The author certainly has a way with language, but I found this book difficult to get interested in. The mystery story is coincidence-heavy, and I didn't feel that it meshed all that well with the archeological aspects. I thought the romance side of things was fairly flat, I just couldn't get why this couple was into each other. Part of that could be...more
Cristina
While he is cutting turf in a peat bog, an Irish farmer discovers the well preserved remains of a beautiful red headed girl. Archaeologist Cormac Maguire and pathologist Nora Gavin are asked to investigate the find. As they spend time in the little town of Dunbeg, Cormac and Nora make discoveries about the unfortunate girl from the bog and also uncover clues in the recent disappearance of a mother and her young child.

When I got this book I thought the story would focus mainly on the girl found i...more
Mandy
I've finally finished this book. Thank goodness. I listened to this in audiobook format (over 12 hours long), and I never felt engaged at all or as though I knew any of the characters -- I can't even remember their names at this moment -- or what was happening plot-wise, and I honestly didn't care. Even though the premise sounded interesting (albeit disturbing), the three or so sub-plots wound into one was too many, and the end was lackluster after the long road getting there.
Shelby *wants some flying monkeys*
I enjoyed this book. Interesting subject matter with a touch of forensics. Gothic setting. :)
Cheryl
This was actually a better book than I thought it would be when I started reading it. There are essentially 2 mysteries being investigated. One taking place hundreds of years ago (a bog discovery) and another a missing persons case only a couple of years old.

I liked the way the story was told coming from different perspectives, not just Nora's.

I did figure out who did it though I didn't get all the details right. I won't say I figured it out early on, but early enough. The wrap up of the mystery...more
Toni Osborne
This novel is a suspenseful mix of forensics, history and archaeology delightfully crafted around traditional Irish folklore.

The story is set in a tiny village in Ireland and opens when two farmers make a grisly discovery while harvesting peat. They discover the head of a young woman with long red hair perfectly preserved in the peat bog. Archaeologist Cormac Maguire and pathologist Nora Gavin are summoned."Bog bodies" are a remarkable find and time is crucial in order to preserve their original...more
Anne Hawn Smith
This book was hard to get into at first, but I really enjoyed it. The reader is deposited right into the middle of the action and, while it gives a sense of immediacy, it is hard to figure out what it going on. The story is actually two mysteries in one...there is a red haired woman's head which is found deposited in the peat bog and a real woman and her child who have been missing for over two years. The plot is interwoven and switches between forensic and historical research on the bog body an...more
Jon
An oddly unfocused murder mystery with no assurance that there has even been a murder until late in the story. The severed head of a red-haired girl is found preserved in a peat bog in Ireland, and it is quickly determined that she died 400 years ago. A local woman and her young son simply disappeared from the face of the earth two years ago, and academics from Dublin, come to investigate the bog discovery, have the feeling that the two events are somehow connected. (I don't see why anyone who d...more
Connie
Erin Hart has written a mystery embedded within a mystery. Lovely conundrum.

I truly enjoyed the section of the story about the bog body found by a farmer in the peat bog, which has amazing preservative qualities. An archeologist and pathologist are called in to determine what to do about the artifact and try to determine how old the specimen is. (400 years old)

Nora and Cormac, the scientists, become embroiled in the local mystery of a missing mother and child as they work to gain clues about th...more
Bev Hankins
Haunted Ground begins with an Irish farmer cutting turf in a peat bog and finding more than he bargained for. The square of peat that he removes reveals a perfectly preserved head of a red-haired young woman. The local police call in Irish archaeologist Cormac Maguire and American pathologist Nora Gavin to work on the site and find out how long the bog has kept its secret. The searchers are unable to find the rest of the woman's remains. While the search is going on, local landowner Hugh Osborne...more
Janet
To My Inlaw Family & Goodreads Friends, I neglected to thank you for all your assistance in how to pronounce Aiofe - that would be "EE-fah... Almost like how little robot Wall-E mispronounces "Eve"." for anyone who may share my pet peeve - all authors have every right & duty to name a character as they see fit. But to have their readers stumble over a character's name every time that character is mentioned - it stops the world of the story & it's painful for the reader. Authors - ple...more
Megan
I recently picked this book up at my public library after searching for Irish mysteries. The story opens with the discovery of a perfectly preserved severed head in a peat bog. Who does the head belong to? Where is the rest of the body? Could it belong to a woman who disappeared along with her son about 2 years ago, whose husband is the prime suspect in her disappearance? There are several mysteries here and the author does a nice job of developing each without causing confusion. In addition to...more
Franny
I would give this book a good rating for its setting alone...Ireland. However, the subject is extremely interesting. Its a mystery, but a very unique one. The two main characters are an archeologist and a pathologist investigating the finding of human remains in a bog. And apparently bogs are these freak things that preserve for thousands of years-who knew? Not me, so I found myself looking up bogs and bog bodies and pictures of things found in bogs from 5000 yrs ago (weird and amazing-check it...more
Mare
This story will bring the reader to the heart of Ireland while luring them into a well-told tale of bog bodies, Irish history, and modern crime. Meeting Nora Gavin, American anatomist, Cormac MaGuire, archeologist, and Garret Devaney, as they work their ways through seperate mysteries is almost as good as being in the thick of things. The smell of peat smoke and the sound of Irish music are constantly with the reader as they make the journey through this eloquently written story. Jennifer McMaho...more
Julie
I truly enjoyed this book. It had two stories going at once. A mystery from the past and one from the present. Both were explored concurrently. The characters are very well developed and the imagery makes you feel like you are right there. I love the archaeological details about the bogs and the historical information about Irish history and ancestory.

I didn't realize until I was done with this book that this was her first novel. I tend to read many of these, because they tend to have a little...more
LJ
HAUNTED GROUND – VG
Erin Hart – 1st book
When head of a young woman is uncovered in an Irish peat bog, Irish archaeologist Cormac Maguire and American pathologist Nora Gavin are called to investigate. However, they also become involved with landowner Hugh Osborne, whose wife and son have been missing for three years.

I loved this book! It gave a real sense of Ireland, its people and it’s history, while telling a very good story. And, there were a couple twists and turns at the end that even I didn...more
Susan
I enjoyed this audio, good storyline, involves archaeology, always a plus, and interesting characters. I found the sense of place well done and the situations realistic.

What I didn't care for were the abrupt chapter endings. Seems like there was more to come then, boom, next chapter started. I also found myself hard pressed to keep all the characters straight at the beginning of the book. Maybe this would have been better served by reading rather than listening to audio.

But I did enjoy it and pl...more
Cheryl
Aug 18, 2008 Cheryl rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Heidi and Kathryn
This was an excellent book - - the secret to an old murder unfolding hand in hand with a more recent murder, set in a part of Ireland that many people have never visited, the wild countryside surrounding Galway. I'm sure my interest in this book was heightened by having visited this corner of Ireland myself, but i must admit, this would be a wonderful book even without that experience. Hart describes the people, the music, the countryside and its history with detail and love, and it really shine...more
Pwrgrl
A friend who often shares similar tastes recommended this book and after listening to a sample, I downloaded an audio version of the book. I can honestly say my enjoyment of the story was greatly enhanced by Jennifer MacMahon's performance. Her Irish gave the story an ambiance it would otherwise have been missing and her English and American accents were well done as well.

Two mysteries unravel side-by-side, one historical and one contemporary. We start with finding out about Irish bogs and their...more
Martha
Really enjoyed this, and can't wait to read the next one. Just the combination I like of ancient history plus modern mystery, and a very alluring Irish setting as well. The ancient history mystery was resolved rather unrealistically, but provided a satisfying finish. There were some gothic elements that I think are verging on cliche (view spoiler), but maybe I've just read too many my...more
Fanficfan44
There is a lot to like in this book. The setting is very well done, excellent sense of place that develops through the book. There is also cultural and historical references including music and folklore that add color and detail to the story. The protagonist is an archaeologist, Cormac Maguire. His sidekick/romantic interest/colleague is an American pathologist, Nora Gavin. Both these characters are well developed with their own motivations and feelings. The dark moody atmosphere is maintained t...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Another volume in my attempt to read more mysteries - this one is an archaeological mystery set in Ireland, where a "bog body" has been discovered. The archaeologist and historian involved work on simultaneous mysteries - one set in ancient Ireland, and one in the present. I was impressed by the unique feeling of this book and it actually made me interested in the mystery itself (a small feat).
Margery
I watch as many "Bones" and "N.C.I.S." shows as time permits plus I love to read about the British Isles and Ireland. And here is Erin Hart (an Ole) writing about a forensic anthropologist in Ireland!!! Have now read all four in this series and will be anxious to find her next book.

The mystery of "bog mummies" may run its course soon but the pictures of Ireland make me want 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...
Lake of Sorrows (Nora Gavin, #2) False Mermaid (Nora Gavin #3) The Book of Killowen (Nora Gavin, #4) Books to Die For

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