An Early WakeI’m still here, which is kind of a surprise. Here is the pub I inherited less than a year ago, Sullivan’s, in this place called Leap. It’s in Ireland, in a really small town. There’s a weird history to the name, about some guy a couple of hundred years ago who made his horse leap over a creek. Which doesn’t explain why it’s pronounced “lep.”

Anyway, the pub has been around almost as long as that story, and before I got it, it was run by an old guy named Mick Sullivan, who was some kind of relative of my grandmother, who raised me in Boston. I never knew Mick (mostly bandcalled Old Mick, because there’s a Mick who works in the pub now), but because of my grandmother I now have a pub, and a house outside of Leap. More than I ever expected. Gran raised me in a rental in South Boston, which was not a great neighborhood when I was a kid.

I guess I could have sold the pub and gone back to Boston, but there was no one and nothing there for me, so I figured I’d stick around and see what was what. I’d worked in bars before, since before I was legal, really, but I’d bridget cottagenever run one myself. But I’m pretty sure Irish pubs aren’t like Boston ones. I’m still trying to figure out how to bring customers in. It’s not so bad in summer, when there are tourists passing through, and we’re on a main road. But now it’s fall, and there aren’t so many tourists. Sure, I’ve got local customers, mostly men who come in once a day for a pint of Guinness and some conversation—called craic around here. No, not crack cocaine, just talk. Yeah, it’s confusing. It’s amazing how long they can nurse one pint when they get to talking.

Since I’ve been here, weird things have happened, like first somebody found an old body in a bog, and I kind of party pubhelped figure out who he was. Then there was this New York woman who came looking for a painting from some artist who died a long time ago, and she ended up a murder suspect. Is this normal? Got me. Now the people who’ve worked at Sullivan’s longer than me talked me into inviting a bunch of musicians who knew the place maybe ten or fifteen years ago back here to play. I was surprised when a lot of them came. Not that I’d ever heard of any of them, but some people told me they were big names, or at least they used to be.

I was even more surprised when one of them ended up dead. I’ve got to say, the murder rate around here is really cattlelow—nothing like Boston—so I don’t get why I keep ending up in the middle of murder investigations. At least the police—they call them gardaí around here—seem to be good guys, but I don’t know how good they are at investigating murders because they don’t see many.

You know, I don’t say it a lot, but I kind of like the place. Ireland, I mean. The people have been really good to me, and the business is doing all right. At least, if I make it through the winter. But if we keep the music events Lough Hynegoing, now and then, that’ll help bring in more customers. I’ve kind of made friends, which I didn’t expect. And I feel responsible for the people working for me at the pub, because there aren’t that many jobs around here, so I don’t know where they’d go if I closed Sullivan’s down. They’d probably get by. But honestly? I’d hate to see the pub shut down. So I’m going to keep trying to make it work. Wish me luck—which in Irish is ádh mór, or so they tell me. Easy to remember.

You can read more about Maura in An Early Wake, the third book in the “County Cork” mystery series, published by Berkley Prime Crime. The first two books in the series are Buried in a Bog and Scandal in Skibbereen. Note: Congratulations to Sheila as An Early Wake is on the New York Times Bestsellers List.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 12 p.m. eastern on February 23 for the chance to win a copy of An Early Wake. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only. Winner will be notified within 48 hours after giveaway closes and you will have three days to respond after being contacted or another winner will be selected. Make sure to check your SPAM folder.

About the author
Sheila Connolly, Anthony and Agatha Award–nominated author, writes three bestselling cozy mystery series for Berkley Prime Crime. Her “Museum Mysteries” are based in Philadelphia, her “Orchard Mysteries” take place in rural Massachusetts, and her “County Cork Mysteries” are set in Ireland, and include Buried in a Bog and Scandal in Skibbereen, both New York Times bestsellers. In addition, she writes a paranormal romance series, which began with Relatively Dead in 2013. She has also published Once She Knew, a romantic suspense, and Reunion with Death, a traditional mystery set in Tuscany, as well as a number of short stories. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and three cats, and visits Ireland as often as she can.

Visit Sheila at her website or on Facebook

*Photos taken by Sheila from her trips to Ireland.

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