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Haunted Ground (Nora Gavin #1)

3.69  ·  Rating Details ·  5,047 Ratings  ·  621 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
Hardcover, 328 pages
Published April 29th 2003 by Scribner Book Company (first published 2003)
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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
35th out of 508 books — 422 voters
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Best Fiction Set in Ireland
35th out of 362 books — 323 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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May 27, 2015 Almeta rated it really liked it
In books with historical content, I need to trust that the author has done the research.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
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
Marty Selnick
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
Apr 08, 2010 Donna rated it it was ok
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
Oct 27, 2011 Hannah rated it liked it
Shelves: mysteries, 2011-reads
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
Dec 22, 2015 Debra rated it really liked it
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.
Aug 06, 2011 Mandy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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.
Robert Beveridge
Jan 22, 2008 Robert Beveridge rated it really liked it
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
Arielle Walker
May 29, 2016 Arielle Walker marked it as to-read
That synopsis sounds eerily familiar - have I read this already??

If not, I want to.
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).
Shelby *trains flying monkeys*
Jan 23, 2010 Shelby *trains flying monkeys* rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2010
I enjoyed this book. Interesting subject matter with a touch of forensics. Gothic setting. :)
Apr 17, 2016 Jaci rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-in-2016
There were probably a few misconceptions on my part, since many times I'll pick up a book at random without knowing much about it -- save for whatever I read on the cover. Perhaps this lead to some of my disappointment, confusion or apparently some disinterest toward the end of the book as a struggled to skim to finish.

Now going by the blurb and the subtitle Nora Gavin #1 from this site, one sort of gets the impression that the main character of this book is Nora, and this is the starting off po
Mar 22, 2016 Petra rated it it was ok
Shelves: library
This debut novel was a bit lackluster. It has the elements of a mystery but nothing is left for the reader to get engaged with. Have a question about the mystery?....the author will answer it within a page. There are a string of coincidences through this book that make this a very neat and tidy investigation. All in all, no tension, no questions, no surprises. It's all very obvious.
I'm a bit confused about the series title (Nora Gavin) as Nora's role in this book wasn't what I would call the lea
Apr 03, 2013 Cristina rated it liked it
Shelves: award-winners
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
Mar 14, 2016 Rylie rated it it was ok
I loved the setting, I really liked the writing (the descriptions of characters and setting, and even the writing of the actions being taken.) I just didn't really like the plot and characters of this book. I wasn't all that interested in the mystery, and I can't exactly put my finger on why. There was a lot of point-of-view switching, so that could have something to do with it. There also wasn't enough action for me. I didn't feel like any of the characters had to go through any kind of situati ...more
Edwina Hall Callan
Mar 18, 2016 Edwina Hall Callan rated it really liked it
Shelves: bookcrossing, 2016
Like an archaeological dig site the plot of this book is revealed very slowly, in many layers upon layers. Numerous characters, plot and subplots galore, the storyline creeps along at a snail's pace and, as a rule, all of these things tend to get on my last nerve ... but not this time, because even though I was eager to find out the who, what, and why of everything, the waiting the worth it.
Bravo, Erin Hart, on an excellent first novel. Looking forward to returning to the bogs of Ireland with yo
Back in 2011 I had Mr. Turning the Pages try this one out since when he does read, he likes mysteries and he wanted to try something new, and he liked it a lot so I finally stopped dragging my feet and gave it a try earlier this year.

Before I read this book I had no idea how common bog bodies were. I'd heard of them, but thought they were so rare that I was surprised to find out there was more out there than I thought. I thought it was fascinating how Nora came to Ireland to study bodies like t
Mar 11, 2014 Cheryl rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014-65-books
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
Toni Osborne
Feb 12, 2009 Toni Osborne rated it really liked it
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
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
Dec 31, 2011 Jon rated it liked it
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 (Ava Catherine)
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
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
Apr 14, 2009 Janet rated it really liked it
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
Jul 13, 2009 Megan rated it liked it
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
Laura Edwards
Mar 19, 2016 Laura Edwards rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery
I absolutely loved this book. Usually I prefer historical mysteries, but there were so many historical details and folklore in this novel I didn't mind the modern setting. The mystery, Nora's and Cormac's backstories and the Irish folklore are all subtly layered. This is a beautifully and intelligently written book. And the passages dealing with Irish folklore and history display a lyrical quality. I also liked the character of Devaney and his home life and hope he continues to play a part in th ...more
Sep 13, 2016 Rebecca rated it liked it
It was okay. It had all the ingredients of a book I would love but I found my mind wandering. I listened to the audiobook which was read by a woman with a wonderful voice. It's possible the writing style caused me to lose the thread of the beginning of the sentence by the time I got to the end. Perhaps this is a book better read in text format. I re-started the book three times trying to re-engage myself in the plot and characters.

I didn't are much about any of the characters, which I noticed w
Oct 27, 2015 April rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this mystery. There were times when it was a wee bit hard to follow, and maybe if asked, I'd say...not a whole lot going on, but there was really more to it than that. It was compelling. Even though it seemed as if there was a bit of down time, I was captured by the story and wanted to know what happened. For me, I was more interested in the historical chick rather than the 'current day' chick, but both stories were interesting. And the end...ya, it's all worth the NO WAY! ending! :) I ...more
Jun 08, 2011 Mare rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Esther Somorai
Aug 13, 2016 Esther Somorai rated it really liked it
Read 6-16-2016
Liked the story very much. Held my interest from beginning to the very end. A fast read.
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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)
  • Lake of Sorrows (Nora Gavin, #2)
  • False Mermaid (Nora Gavin #3)
  • The Book of Killowen (Nora Gavin, #4)

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