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Peeler (Sean O'Keefe #1)

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  197 Ratings  ·  18 Reviews
West Cork. November 1920. The Irish War of Independence rages. The body of a young woman is found brutally murdered on a windswept hillside. A scrap board sign covering her mutilated body reads 'TRATOR'. Traitor. Acting Sergeant Sean O'Keefe of the Royal Irish Constabulary, a wounded veteran of the Great War, is assigned to investigate the crime, aided by sinister detectiv ...more
Paperback, 512 pages
Published May 1st 2010 by Mercier Press
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Jan 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
The book takes place shortly after WW I. Tensions between the Army, IRA, and local cops are horrible, with each shooting the other almost at will. Going out after curfew risks being shot by either side.

Peeler is the derogatory word for policeman in Ireland. The book begins in 1920 with the discovery of a woman's body splayed out on the side of a hill, naked and tarred and feathered with the word "Trator" [sic] written on a plank on her chest. Being a policeman (RIC for Royal Irish Constabulary)
Oct 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: irish-historical
I thought this book was excellent. Not only as a mystery, but it also managed to bring a time in Ireland's troubled history, the War of Independence, to life on the page.

The story opens with the discovery of a young woman's mutilated body on a lonely hillside outside of Cork. The body has been tarred and feathered and a sign "trator" has been placed around her neck.

Sergeant Sean O'Keefe is a "Peeler" in the Royal Irish Constabulary in 1920. He is also a survivor of the Great War, although he was
D.J. Kelly
Mar 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Remarkably, I could find only 2 historical crime novels set in the era of the Irish War of Independence. David Lawlor's 'Tan' (in kindle format only thus far) is also a great read. 'Running with Crows - The Life and Death of a Black and Tan' by DJ Kelly is due out end of March 2013 however. I went looking for some fiction set in this period, which was pivotal in terms of Anglo-Irish history, hoping to find more, not least because we are now embarking upon a decade of centenaries for the 'Irish R ...more
Book Addict Shaun
Mar 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kindle, 2015
When searching for Irish crime fiction to read for #IrishFiction week, I stumbled across Peeler. Not only did it sound like a book right up my street, but the main character has the same full name as me, so I simply had to read it for #IrishFiction week and I am so glad that I did. Crime fiction readers will know just what a saturated genre it is, and since becoming a blogger I've found that to be the case even more. Peeler is very different to my usual crime reads, so it was both exciting and r ...more
Rob Kitchin
May 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
There is much to like about Peeler. It’s well researched, with a great deal of attention to historical accuracy and recreating the social and political landscape of County Cork in 1920, and it’s well written with a decent plot and good characterization. Sean O’Keefe, in particular, is a well drawn and complex character caught as he is between two worlds. Indeed, I hope McCarthy has another O’Keefe book in the works as he’s somebody I’d like to spend a bit more time discovering. Another strength ...more
Phyllis Gauker
Aug 04, 2016 rated it liked it
Although my DNA says I am 68% Irish I do not know the culture or expressions used etc in the 1920s when this book is set. I found that hard, not always knowing the meaning of what was being said, even in context, but that is my deficiency, not the author's unless he'd have chosen to "translate" every blip of conversation, which would have been awkward to say the least. Not only did I not know expressions, but I didn't understand so many variations of police, army, volunteers etc. I could not tel ...more
Mar 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
set over the course of a week in 1920s Ireland, this thriller really sucked me in. Acting sergeant Sean O'Keefe served Britain in World War 1, and is now a "peeler" or policeman back in Ireland. However, he and his colleagues are caught between the Irish Republican Army and their masters in the British government. It sounds complicated and it is--no one is safe, and solving the murder uncovered on the first page of the book is impossible without risking life and limb in the process. But O'Keefe ...more
May 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing
You learn quite a lot from this book about Ireland and in particular a dramatic chapter of that country's history. It also provides an insight into the psyche of the Irish people in the 1920's. The prose is not dense and moves quickly along yet the book is full of detail revealing the author to be a good researcher as well as a good writer.

What I enjoyed most about this book is that, with compassionate irony, the author explores that dark side of humanity that war represents.

Above all, this is
Lee Holz
May 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Peeler crosses a number of genres to create an engrossing story. Its background is a well-researched historical account of 1920 Ireland and the war of rebellion that ultimately secured the country’s freedom. It’s an exciting action thriller detailing some of the fighting of that war. Above all, it’s a well-plotted, well-executed police procedural of murder and corruption.
Yuki Shimmyo
Mar 28, 2011 marked it as to-read
Recommends it for: Mark, Kelly.. JETs
Recommended to Yuki Shimmyo by: Matthew Thomas
This has nothing to do with the book, but I met Kevin while we were teaching English on the JET Program in Japan 20 years ago! It's amazing to know he stayed in Ireland (he's American) and has become an author. I remember he was, verbally at least, a fantastic storyteller. Can't wait to check this out!
May 05, 2013 rated it liked it
Peeler is an historical police procedural set in 1920's Ireland. It was a good read with plenty of twists and turns, accurate history and a little too long at the end. Other than that I enjoyed the book.
Nick Metcalfe
Jan 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The best novel that I have read about Ireland in the early 20thC. Extremely well researched and written in a style that wraps the reader in the complexities of that era. The plot is well developed and the characters are believable. Excellent - highly recommended.
Gary Allen
Dec 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
Not having much of a background in the history of Ireland this proved to be a good primer for the times of 'the troubles' wrapped in a well written mystery. It is dark but then so were the times so it is all fitting. I have traveled to parts of Ireland and reading this book took me back.
Jul 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Andrew Parnell
Jul 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Set in 1920 in the middle of the Irish war of independence, and soon after the first world war. This book is more than a crime drama, it weaves the pain and suffering of the Irish people with the recent scars of the great war into a remarkable work of fiction.
Jul 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
Interesting combination of detective novel and historical fiction. Also, a lot of interesting, complex characters and strong sense of time (1920) and place (Ireland). Definitely look forward to reading another one in the series.
Roger Boyle
Apr 25, 2015 rated it liked it
Nice story abut a piece of history that I knew very little about. Provocative.

But not really very well written - too many explicatory passages, too many cliches.

I may pick up the sequel, which is reputedly better, but not just yet.
Dec 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing
One of the only books I have ever come across that is set in Ireland during the War of Independence
Rory Staines
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michael barkhurst
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lorraine kadirgamar
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Kevin McCarthy is the author of Peeler (Mercier, 2010), an historical crime novel set during the War of Independence in Ireland. His short fiction has appeared in many journals both in print and on the web and his story, Twenty-five and Out, appears in Down These Green Streets: Irish Crime Writing in the 21st Century (Liberties, 2011). He was born in Suffolk, UK, where his father was stationed wit ...more
More about Kevin McCarthy...

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