Zarina's Reviews > Haunted Ground

Haunted Ground by Erin Hart
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Mar 24, 10


The story is set in Ireland, where a farmer, Brendan McGann makes a gruesome discovery whilst cutting turf in the bog - the perfectly preserved, decapitated head of a flame-haired lass. This prompts an investigation, and Irish archaeologist Cormac Maguire is brought in, as well as attractive American-based-in-Dublin pathologist Nora Gavin. As the pair try to uncover the mystery of the "Cailin Rua", they also get embroiled in another mystery, which may or may not be connected to the head in the bog. The second mystery concerns the disappearance of Mina and Christopher Osborne, wife and child of local gentry, Hugh Osborne, who have been missing for the past two years. Hugh is still the main suspect in the case, and both Cormac and Nora have conflicted opinions as to Hugh's role in the disappearance, for different reasons. These two protagonists are emotionally complex people, choosing a solitary and uncomplicated life, yet are immensely attracted to each other. Their burgeoning romance is credibly portrayed, and never sinks into sentimental sap.

The other characters that play a major role in the story are equally fascinating - Hugh Osborne, still a main suspect in the disappearance of his wife and young son, seems to play the grieving spouse and father very well, but is he all that he portrays or is there more to him? Lucy Osborne, the cool and distant cousin who also shares Hugh's roof, seems benign enough, but is she? What about teenager Jeremy, Lucy's son, who seems to be a developing alcoholic, and quite an unstable presence in the story. Brendan McGann, the farmer who discovered the head also seems to be an emotionally unstable person, and someone who despises Hugh. What is the cause of tension between the two men?

The plot may seem incredibly complex with the cast of characters here, but it all ties in together beautifully, which attests to the author's skill in weaving a complex, and chilling mystery. I loved the twin mysteries and how both were explored simultaneously - the historical mystery of the bodyless head, and the chilling mystery of the missing mother and son. And there's always a pervasive sense of menace in the background, partly attributable to the dreary climate and descriptions of the bog, and also because there's a sense of the unknown in terms of each character's motives. This will hold high appeal for those who love atmospheric mysteries, and though the plot does slow down considerably in some parts, it is on the whole an immensely satisfying read.
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