Murder at an Irish Castle by Ellie Brannigan

Title: Murder at an Irish Castle

Author: Ellie Brannigan (Traci Hall)

Published on: 7 February 2023

Genre: Cozy Mystery

Buy on Amazon

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Murder at an Irish Castle is the first book in Ellie Brannigan’s Irish Castle Mystery series.

Famous bridal wear designer Rayne McGrath expected her thirtieth birthday to start with a bang. Well, it started with a bang, all right – just not the kind she was expecting. Her boyfriend (from whom she expected a proposal on her birthday) emptied their joint bank account, bridal wear store and vanished into thin air.

To add to her list of surprises is a letter from Ireland. Her Uncle Nevin passed away a couple of days ago in a tractor accident and Rayne has to attend the will hearing. As she reaches Dublin airport, she’s greeted by a sullen-looking woman who introduces herself as Ciara. Rayne has to go to the lawyers immediately as the hearing of Nevin’s estates is to take place in a few minutes. Throughout the journey, Ciara remains hostile and Rayne doesn’t know why.

Then, at the lawyers, she learns she’s inherited Uncle Nevin’s castle. But it comes with a couple of ‘terms and conditions’ – one of which is Ciara’s role in managing the castle. Rayne also learns that Ciara is Nevin’s illegitimate child.

With just a year in hand to bring changes to castle – failing is disastrous – the entire village will be financially destroyed, 500 people will have no means of livelihood.

Ciara is downright rude with Rayne the whole time. She thinks Rayne had it all easy – the kind born with a silver spoon. Rayne doesn’t tell Ciara or the Castle’s employees about her past (scamming boyfriend and birthday ‘surprise.’ But Ciara is quite convinced her Da’s tractor accident was no ‘accident’ and Rayne believes her.

What a fantabulous cozy series debut. When I first heard of this book and the author, I was wondering if Ellie Brannigan is an author new to me. Then, I checked Penguin Random House’s author page and was so happy to learn I have read Ellie’s other cozy mystery series – the one where she writes as Traci Hall.

Well, I am a huge fan of Traci’s Scottish Shire mysteries. And to have another fantastic mystery series set in Ireland was just a cherry on top. Traci is a marvelous author and if you are familiar with her Scottish Shire mysteries, I am pretty sure you will like this one too. If you haven’t heard of her yet, please add both these series to your TBR. You’re welcome!

The story starts with a bang. Well, not literally but the main character wakes up on her birthday to learn her boyfriend has run away with cash and bridal wear (lingerie included), leaving her with nothing but betrayal and hurt. She then learns (from her film-actress mother) that her Uncle Nevin has passed away in Ireland.

Rayne goes to Ireland to learn she’s inherited a castle and has a cousin named Ciara – Nevin’s illegitimate daughter. Ciara worked with Nevin for over nine years and was expected to inherit the castle. When she learned she would be managing it with Rayne as her boss, she isn’t happy. She hates Rayne for it and makes sure Rayne knows of it.

Rayne is torn between selling the castle – which means the whole village will suffer – and going back to LA and restarting her bridal wear business from scratch. She picks the former and decides to work on her bridal store from Ireland.

Ciara is quite sure her father’s death was no accident. As Rayne starts to dig deeper into the case – after calling a truce with Ciara, the cousins learn there’s a lot more to Nevin’s death than it seems to be. The list of suspects isn’t long but the guarda do not believe someone killed Nevin – at least not at first.

There’s one suspect who bothers Rayne – mostly because of their closeness to her cousin. Even I was under the impression that Ciara might end up like Rayne, broken hearted and pauper. Thank god I was wrong!

Speaking of suspects, the identity of the killer was totally unexpected and shocking. This was a case of wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Ciara’s banter was the most entertaining part in the story. As much as I understood her anger, I felt bad for Rayne being at the receiving end of it. Rayne was already going through betrayal and hurt, you see.

This was a perfect mix of character introduction, series-plot setting and scene setting. Add a murder mystery on top – the kind that keeps you guessing till the end – and there’s nothing else a cozy mystery lover could possibly ask for.

If you love cozy mysteries, especially the ones with scenic settings, you might want to give Murder at an Irish Castle by Ellie Brannigan a try.

I received an ARC from Crooked Lane Books and NetGalley in exchange for an honest and unbiased opinion.

Follow The Book Decoder on:


Comments are closed.