Tuesday 15 February 2022

πŸ“– Book Review ~ The Winter Guest by W C Ryan


6 January 2022

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book

January 1921. 

Though the Great War is over, in Ireland a new, civil war is raging. The once-grand Kilcolgan House, a crumbling bastion shrouded in sea-mist, lies half empty and filled with ghosts - both real and imagined - the Prendevilles, the noble family within, co-existing only as the balance of their secrets is kept.

Then, when an IRA ambush goes terribly wrong, Maud Prendeville, eldest daughter of Lord Kilcolgan, is killed, leaving the family reeling. Yet the IRA column insist they left her alive, that someone else must have been responsible for her terrible fate. Captain Tom Harkin, an IRA intelligence officer and Maud's former fiancΓ©, is sent to investigate, becoming an unwelcome guest in this strange, gloomy household.

Working undercover, Harkin must delve into the house's secrets - and discover where, in this fractured, embattled town, each family member's allegiances truly lie. But Harkin too is haunted by the ghosts of the past and by his terrible experiences on the battlefields. Can he find out the truth about Maud's death before the past - and his strange, unnerving surroundings - overwhelm him?

πŸ“– My Review..

Set in Ireland in 1921, the story gets off to a dramatic start when an IRA ambush goes horribly wrong. Maud Prenderville, eldest daughter of Lord Kilcolgan is killed and the hunt is on to find her killer since the IRA insist that they left her alive at the scene. Drafted in to investigate is Captain Tom Harkin, once Maud's fiancΓ©, and now working undercover as an IRA intelligence officer. However, his arrival at the gloomy Kilcolgan House is met with suspicion and mistrust. The once beautiful, but now gloomy, ancestral home is a place of secrets as the family guard their privacy well but it's not just the Prendervilles who are reticent, Harkin too has his own share of secrets, which, at times, threaten to engulf him.

Intelligently written with a fine eye for historical detail, the story is one of mystery and conjecture, bringing both time and place alive. There are vivid and thought provoking flashback details of Harkin's time during the First World War which are eloquently and compassionately described. His struggles to maintain his equilibrium in this post-war world is only heighten by the escalation of the troubles in Ireland and the sense of injustice which prevails.

The brooding nature of Kilcolgan House with its shadowy and haunting atmosphere make The Winter Guest a perfect read for a winter afternoon, preferably snuggled by a warm fire.

Best read with.. a cup of tea and a shortbread biscuit.

W. C. Ryan is also known as William Ryan, who has won acclaim for his historical crime novels in the Captain Korolev series.

Twitter @WiliamRyan_  #TheWinter Guest


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