Three months ago I wouldn’t have believed it, but I’m still in Ireland. In a tiny village called Leap (there’s a long story about why, but I won’t bother you with it), in County Cork. It’s on the main road along the south coast, but don’t blink or you’ll miss it. Probably you’ll be heading for Skibbereen, the next town over, which is about ten times as big as Leap, which still isn’t very big.
I inherited a pub and a house from someone I’d never even met, thanks to my grandmother. She’s gone now, so there’s no reason to go back to Boston. Now I’m running the pub and getting to know people. Pubs in the country (which is most of Ireland, except for Dublin and Cork city) aren’t grubby dark places where men go to drink without talking, and certainly not where shiny “young professionals” go to impress each other. They’re more like a place to meet, to say hello to friends, to catch up on local news, and to kind of ease into what’s left of the day. Thing is, if you’re managing the place you have to talk to a lot of people, and I’ve never been good at that. But I’m learning.
I’ve got three employees—Jimmy Sweeney and his daughter Rose, who I’m still not sure is old enough to work here, and Mick Nolan, whose grandmother lives near that cottage I ended up living in. That’s it, but that’s usually enough to keep things running. We juggle schedules depending on what’s going on, which usually is not much. Oh, I nearly forgot Old Billy (we call him old because he’s somewhere past eighty), who doesn’t actually work here but who’s here every day. The tourists who stop in really enjoy listening to his stories, and he gets a lot of free drinks that way.
Things were going pretty well until Althea Melville shows up at the pub one day and starts throwing her weight around. She’s American. Worse, she’s from New York. She says she’s in Ireland looking for a lost painting by some fancy artist, and she thinks it might be somewhere around Leap, and she wants help to find it. Trouble is, she doesn’t know how to ask nicely, and she really doesn’t get how things work in Ireland. I mean, I don’t really either, but I’ve learned a lot in the past few months and I can tell that she’s doing it all wrong. But, hey, she’s American, so I kind of had to help her out and try to steer her in the right direction.
The local manor house is the best place to look for this mysterious painting, but then she tries to wheedle her way in and ticks off the owner. Then the gardener for the place turns up dead on the front lawn. And she might have had something to do with it (although anybody who’s met Althea could tell she wouldn’t do anything that would mess up her manicure and her expensive shoes). Still, it’s a murder, so her search kind of grind to a halt, which makes Althea even more annoying to be around because she wants that painting like yesterday, for some big show she’s putting on in New York. I keep trying to explain that Irish time isn’t much like New York time, but she’s not good at listening.
But do you know, by the time we’ve solved the murder (that’s me and Sean Murphy, a police officer from Skibbereen—we don’t have any in Leap—and his detective-inspector-whatever boss), Althea’s kind of slowed down. I think Ireland is getting to her.
That happens a lot around here. I mean, look at me—I never expected to find myself here, but I like it. I’m going to stick around for a while and see how things work out.
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Meet the author
Sheila Connolly is the New York Times bestselling author and the Anthony and Agatha Award–nominated author of three cozy mystery series. Her bestselling Museum Mysteries are set in Philadelphia; her New York Times bestselling Orchard Mysteries take place in small town Massachusetts. Scandal in Skibbereen (February 2014) is the second in her Ireland-based County Cork Mysteries, following New York Times bestselling Buried in a Bog. In 2013 she also published Relatively Dead, a paranormal romance, and Reunion with Death, a traditional mystery set in Tuscany.
Sheila loves restoring old houses, visiting cemeteries, and traveling, when she’s not writing.
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