A day in the life of Maura Donovan by Sheila Connolly

cruel-winterBefore I moved to Ireland last year, I spent all my life in Boston. There are real winters there. It snows in Boston, which makes the whole city a real mess for a day or three. That was the only time I was glad we didn’t own a car, because it would have been a pain to dig out a car, even if you could find a parking space.

Now I live in Ireland, in West Cork, which is in the southwest part of the country. I got here last March, so this is my first winter here. It snowed.

By Boston standards this snowstorm was kind of a joke, but Ireland’s not used to snow at all. Like, the county owns about two snowplows (and it’s a big county!), which they use on the highways. Forget about all the small roads leading out into the country—a snowplow is useless there. If you live up that way—which I do—you just have to wait until the snow decides to melt before you can go home.

I don’t have a television or a radio at my house—and I don’t own a computer or even a fancy cell phone (they call them mobiles here)—so I didn’t know it was going to snow until I showed up at the pub I own, Sullivan’s, which is on a main road in Leap. The people who work for me—Mick, Jimmy, and Rose—were all there (better to use someone else’s heat than pay for your own, right?), and there were a few customers too. The pub opens at 10:30 on weekdays, and there’s always somebody stopping in. Old Billy Sheahan was there too—he lives at the other end of the building, so it’s easy for him to get to the pub. He spends most of his days in front of the fire at Sullivan’s (and we’re happy to have him).

After I got there it started to snow, and then he snow really got going, and a few more people drifted in. Some I knew, some I didn’t, but I wasn’t about to turn anybody away into a storm. By the time the power went out and the cars stopped going by on the street, we had maybe a dozen people in the place, including two young musicians from Dublin who weren’t scheduled to play until the weekend but thought they’d beat the storm. They did—barely.

And there was one maybe killer, Diane Caldwell. I told you I’m new to Cork, so I didn’t recognize her or her name, but other people in the pub took me aside and told me she was suspected of killing a neighbor near her holiday cottage not far away about twenty years back. The gardaí—that’s the police here—never arrested her because there was no evidence, or not enough, anyway. Still, everybody just assumed she was guilty. Diane went back to her home in England, and stayed there—until she came back to sell her old summer place. Then she showed up at Sullivan’s, trying to get back to the airport, which wasn’t going to happen.

So there we were, stuck in the dark. But we had plenty of coal and wood for the fire, and some old oil lamps I found in the cellar, and a kitchen out back that nobody had used for years, that Rose managed to get going so she could make soup out of what we could scrounge, and of course there was plenty to drink. So what did we do? We decided to give Diane the trial she never had.

It turned out to be a very interesting night.

You can read more about Maura in Cruel Winter, the fifth book in the “County Cork” mystery series.

Snow is a rarity in Maura Donovan’s small village in County Cork, Ireland, so she wasn’t sure what to expect when a major snowstorm rolled in around Sullivan’s pub. But now she’s stranded in a bar full of patrons–and a suspected killer in a long-ago murder.

Maura’s been in Ireland less than a year and hasn’t heard about the decades-old unsolved crime that took place nearby, let alone the infamous suspect, Diane Caldwell. But the locals have, and they’re not happy to be trapped with her. Diane, meanwhile, seeks to set the record straight, asserting her innocence after all this time. And since no one is going anywhere in the storm, Maura encourages Diane to share her side of the story, which she’d never had a chance to do in court.

Over the next few hours, the informal court in Sullivan’s reviews the facts and theories about the case–and comes to some surprising conclusions. But is it enough to convince the police to take a new look at an old case?

“Move over, Agatha Christie: a pub owner in County Cork fancies herself a young Miss Marple. . . A fine read in the classic style.”―Kirkus Reviews

“Maura Donovan, the American proprietor of Sullivan’s Pub in the Irish village of Leap, offers shelter—and more—to patrons stranded by a snowstorm, in Connolly’s engaging fifth County Cork mystery.” ―Publishers Weekly

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About the author
Anthony and Agatha Award-nominated and New York Times bestselling author Sheila Connolly writes the Orchard Mysteries for Berkley, the County Cork Mysteries for Crooked Lane Books, and the Relatively Dead Mysteries for Beyond the Page Press. Her new Victorian Village Mysteries from St. Martin’s Press will debut in 2018. She loves genealogy and history and is happiest prowling around old cemeteries looking for ancestors. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and three cats and has recently bought a holiday cottage in Ireland. Visit her on her website at www.sheilaconnolly.com and on Facebook.

All comments are welcomed.

Cruel Winter is available at retail and online booksellers or you can ask your local library to get it for you.

Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a print copy of Cruel Winter. US entries only, please. The giveaway ends March 20, 2017. Good luck everyone!

50 responses to “A day in the life of Maura Donovan by Sheila Connolly

  1. Jody McGrath

    So excited about this book!!!

  2. I need to catch up on this series……
    Thank you for the giveaway……

  3. Love this series – can’t wait to read this one!

  4. Have really enjoyed this series and learning more about that area of Ireland.

  5. Grace Topping

    Congratulations,Shelia, on the publication of your recent book. I look forward to your new series.

  6. Thank you so much for having me here, Dru Ann! In case anybody is wondering, the book was inspired by a real case in West Cork, that happened in 1996–and it’s still not solved. But I changed a lot of the details–and suggested a possible solution!

  7. Brian Frauenknecht

    I absolutely love this series. I was surprised to see it had moved to Crooked Lane books. I had the original pre-order under Berkley. I can’t wait to read this one though. Thanks for the chance to win Dru and Sheila.

  8. Wow! I’m not sure how I have managed to miss out on this series, but I’m intrigued. I love coming here, Dru Ann, because you’re always pointing me in the direction of something amazing to read!

    Sheila, I read your commend above and see that this was inspired by a real case… so now it’s a must read! Thanks to both of you for the heads-up to a series I need to investigate… and for the chance to win.

  9. I love this series and would love to win a copy….this is one of the series that I am up to date with. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

  10. Wonderful series. Thanks for this lovely feature and giveaway.

  11. Love Sheila’s work!

  12. I love this series. Thank you for the chance to win. Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

  13. I love this series. The characters are wonderful and the stories are great.

  14. Love the series. And this one sounds particularly intriguing.

  15. Great series. Would love to read this one.

  16. elainehroberson

    I really enjoy your work. Thanks for a chance to win a copy of your book.

  17. Linda Herold

    I’d love to win a book by this author! Thanks for offering this chance!

  18. Thank you for hosting Sheila Conley’s latest book on your blog. It was wonderful getting an insight into the main character and I love books set in Ireland. My fingers are crossed for luck.

  19. Happy St. Patrick’s Day. Thanks for the chance. Love your books

  20. What a perfect book for St. Paddy’s Day. I enjoy this series as my grandma was Mary Alice Kelly and I know very little about her .

    • Don’t get me started on genealogy–it’s addictive. My Connolly second cousin is married to a Kelly over there, but it always seems that half of the country shares a very short list of names. Makes research challenging!

  21. Cruel Winter sounds like a winner.

  22. I really need to read this series! Sheila is a great author and I know I’ll enjoy this one once I start it. 🙂

  23. Yes please Dru, I’d love to win a copy of Sheila’s book. I have all the others in the series and would be ecstatic if I could add this one.

  24. Mary Jane H.

    What a chance! I love everything about Ireland.

  25. Barbara Hackel

    A murder trial in a darkened tavern during a snowstorm? Count me in Dru Ann and Sheila! Thanks for a great introduction to this book. 🙂

  26. this book sounds great, stuck in a pub with a potential killer and holding a trial in the middle of a snow storm. Add to that the loss of electricity and a fun mystery is born.

  27. Love reading about Ireland. Would enjoy reading “Cruel Winter”. Thanks for the chance.

  28. Della Williamson

    This does look like a very intriguing story. So appreciate the chance to get this book sooner. Rather than later.

  29. donamaekutska7

    Looks really great! I enjoy Ireland stories! Thanks for the chance!

  30. Cheryl Harding as

    love this series and I haven’t read this one..thx for chance

  31. Doward Wilson

    I love this author & can’t wait to read this series. Thanks for the giveaway.

  32. A favorite author but somehow I’ve missed this series. Time to change that!!
    I’m from MN and I LOVE storm stories.


  33. I’d love to go to Ireland. Thanks for the chance to win this book.

  34. Can’t wait to read CRUEL WINTER!

  35. I enjoy experiencing what it would be like to move to Ireland to live.

  36. I love reading this series and also seeing your information about your visits. Thanks for the chance to win! I cant wait to read it

  37. Pauline Barlow

    Shelia, I think it just great that you have a cottage in Ireland.
    With your interest in genealogy (me too) have you found Irish roots? I also wondered did you ever have an experience like the one you tell about in “Cruel Winter”.

    • I’m living in the midst of them (the ancestors) there. Maura’s cottage is where my Connolly family built their last house in 1907. My real cottage is in sight of where my great-grandparents married. Every other person I meet seems to be related somehow and tells me about the rest of the family. It’s an odd feeling bur comforting.

  38. Happy St. Pat’s Day—-Ii’d love to read this book.

  39. Nancy Roessner

    I love this series!

  40. Love all of Sheila’s series and definitely looking forward to reading this newest installment

  41. Wow. I couldn’t imaging living someplace without internet service.

    • Ah, but the internet service is great! In fact, easier than mine in Massachusetts. (I have my own hot spot at the cottage, and I can see the broadband tower from there.) It’s only that Maura has never had time or money to get into it all.

  42. This sounds like an out of the ordinary story, I would love to read it!

  43. How can winter in such a cute little village be cruel? Thank you for the contest!

  44. This book sounds fascinating! I hope to read it soon. Thank you for the chance to win.

  45. conniepsaunders

    Intriguing title! Thanks for sharing.

  46. **** WINNER ****
    of Cruel Winter is Ruth Nixon