Hosting an international poker tournament during the arts and music festival of the small Irish village of Kilbane means a boost to the local economy, but it’s also a big headache for the Garda when three high-profile poker players and an influx of strangers pour into town. The headache quickly turns into a migraine when new Garda Siobhan O’Sullivan discovers the body of a player hanging from the rafters of a local pub. It looks like a suicide, but there are just too many things that don’t add up. Who would want to kill the colorful poker player known as The Octopus, and why? And what was the significance of the dead man’s hand he was dealt during his very last poker game?
The deeper Siobhan and her boss (and lover) Detective Sergeant Macdara Flannery dig, the longer the suspect list gets, including other players, a few townies who were dumb enough to play cards with him, the tournament official who wanted the Octopus disqualified for cheating, and his widow, who perhaps got tired of being cheated on.
In number four of Carlene O’Connor’s Irish Village series readers are treated to a puzzling mystery and a pub full of suspects to pick from. Set in a real-life village in County Cork, Ireland, readers will enjoy the typical small-town gossip and antics, as well as amusing cultural anecdotes, puns, and tons of memorable Irishisms in this fast-paced, interesting tale.
The main protagonist, an Irish Nancy Drew, Siobhan is an endearing, maternal woman whose love of her orphaned siblings and her man are evident and whose gut-instinct-driven, crime-solving, puzzle-unraveling mind is quite impressive. She makes an excellent star of the show and her likable fellow Garda boyfriend boss Macdara makes a perfect sidekick. The absorbing plot keeps the pages turning while the out-of-left-field ending may raise eyebrows and blood pressures, but effectively solves the intricate puzzle. The mystery fares well on its own, but readers will miss important character background if reading out of series order.