Cover image for Haunted ground
Title:
Haunted ground
Author:
Hart, Erin, 1958-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Random House Audio, 2003.
Physical Description:
5 audio discs (6 hrs.) : digital ; 4 3/4 in.
General Note:
Abridged.

Compact disc.
Language:
English
Added Author:
ISBN:
9780739302538

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XX(1249019.8) Adult Audiobook on CD Audiobooks
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Summary

Summary

Meticulously textured with Irish folklore and history, this first title in a planned series featuring archaeologist Cormac O'Callaghan and pathologist Nora Gavin delves through the many layers of Ireland's turbulent past, revealing the eternal, subliminal connections between past and present. Abridged. 5 CDs.


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Two brothers "cutting turf" from a peat bog in the Irish countryside discover the head of a beautiful red-haired woman, decapitated and perfectly preserved in the decay-resistant bog. Who is she, and how long has her head been in the ground? Irish archaeologist Cormac Macguire and American pathologist Nora Gavin are summoned from Dublin to help answer those questions, but soon they are immersed in another mystery: Will the bodies of the recently disappeared wife and son of the local landowner, Hugh Osborne, also be found in the depths of Drumcleggan bog? And did Osborne put them there, as many local villagers suspect? First-novelist Hart follows her gripping set-piece opening (evoking the bodies-in-the-snow tableau from Gorky Park) with an utterly beguiling mix of village mystery, gothic suspense, and psychological thriller. Just as Macguire and Gavin are drawn into, first, the mystery of the red-haired girl and, second, the question of Osborne's guilt or innocence, so Hart draws us into, first, life in the small Galway village near where the girl was found and, finally, the insular world of Bracklyn House, family home of the Osbornes (think Manderley in Rebecca). Atmosphere is all in this detail-rich novel, from the traditional Irish music that not only plays in the background but also helps drive the plot (Hart is a founder of Minnesota's Irish Music and Dance Association) to the fascinating snippets of history concerning peat bogs, archaeological methodology, and the devastating effects on the Irish people of the Cromwellian resettlement in the seventeenth century. Simultaneously, Hart breathes life into local history the way Graham Swift did in Waterland; reinvents the du Maurier formula for gothic suspense; and brings new texture and psychological acuity to the usual suspects from the generic village mystery. In every way, this is a debut to remember. --Bill Ott


Publisher's Weekly Review

Cutting turf in the peat bogs of his Ireland farm, Brendan McGann occasionally finds old oak beams, oxcarts or tubs of butter and cheese buried ages ago and forgotten. But he's hardly prepared for the gruesome discovery he makes one pleasant April morning: the perfectly preserved head of a woman. So begins Hart's debut thriller, which follows archeologist Cormac Maguire, maverick local detective Garret Devaney, and Nora Gavin, an American anatomist lecturing at Trinity College Medical School, as they investigate the farmer's grisly finding, which could date back quite far, given that peat bogs can preserve bodies for centuries. Cormac and Nora stay in the house of Hugh Osborne, the owner of a decaying manor who also happens to be the prime suspect in the unsolved disappearance of his wife and infant son two years ago. The accommodations are not quite the Ritz. Osborne's dour cousin, Lucy Osborne, is the housekeeper, and her son, 17-year-old Jeremy, who drinks too much, also lurks around the estate. Nora finds a filthy, dead crow on her bed, as well as broken glass littering her bathroom floor. What's going on in this malevolent household? In addition to a complex, multilayered plot that involves both contemporary and historical crimes, Hart's novel is rich in local color: evenings at the pub, the petty feuds and jealousies of the townspeople and the traditional music and folk culture of Ireland are evocatively rendered. Agent, Sally Wofford-Girand. 3-city author tour. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal Review

In the rural West of Ireland, two farmers cutting peat from a bog discover the severed head of a young red-haired woman and immediately summon the local police. They, however, already have their hands full investigating the disappearance of the wife and young son of the local land baron, Hugh Osborne of Bracklyn House. Because peat bogs prevent decay, it's hard to tell whether the young woman died weeks, years, or centuries ago, so Irish archaeologist Cormac Maguire and American Nora Gavin, a visiting lecturer in pathology, are called in to help. Local gossip favors Hugh Osborne as the possible murderer of his wife and child and links him romantically to young artist Una McGann. Also among the local suspects are Una's brother, Brendan, and Hugh Osborne's cousin, Lucy, and her teenage son, Jeremy. As Gavin and Maguire dig deeper, local folklore leads them to the story of a young woman who was beheaded for killing her child in the 1600s. But where's her body, and what happened to the Osbornes? Skillfully textured with lush Irish landscape, folklore, and music, this well-executed first novel weaves together Ireland's turbulent past and its rapidly emerging technological present in a wonderfully entertaining plot; it also introduces a pair of appealing amateur sleuths. Highly recommended for both fiction and mystery readers. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 1/03.]-Susan Clifford Braun, Aerospace Corp., El Segundo, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

Chapter One With a sodden rasp, Brendan McGann's turf spade sliced into the bank of earth below his feet. Had he known all that he'd turn up with the winter's fuel, perhaps he would have stopped that moment, climbed up onto the bank, and filled his shed with the uniform sods of extruded turf that a person could order nowadays by the lorry-load. But Brendan continued, loosening each sopping black brick with the square-bladed turf spade, tossing it over the bank, where it landed with a plump slap. He performed his task with a grace and facility that comes from repeating the same motion times without number. Though his father and grandfather and generations before had taken their turf from this same patch of bog, Brendan never thought of himself as carrying on an age-old tradition, any more than he considered the life cycles of all the ancient, primitive plants whose resting place he now disturbed. This annual chore was the only way he'd ever known to stave off the bitter cold that crept under his door each November. Chilblains were the farthest thing from Brendan's mind this unusually sun-drenched late-April morning. A steady westerly breeze swept over the bog, chasing high clouds across the watery blue of the sky, and teasing the moisture from the turf. Good drying today, his father would have said. Brendan worked in his shirtsleeves; his wool jacket, elbows permanently jointed from constant wearing, lay on the bank above his head. He paused, balancing his left arm on the handle of the upright sleán, and, with one rolled-up sleeve, mopped the sweat from his forehead, pushing away the damp, dark hair that stuck there. The skin on his face and forearms was beginning to feel the first pleasant tightness of a sunburn. Hunger was strong upon him at the moment, but just beyond it was an equally hollow feeling of anxiety. This might be the last year he could cut turf on his own land without interference. The thought of it burned in the pit of his stomach. As he clambered up the bank to fetch the handkerchief from his coat pocket, he searched the horizon for a bicycle. Forty yards away, his younger brother Fintan made a comic figure as he struggled against the weight of a turf-laden wheelbarrow. Fintan dumped his two dozen wet sods at the end of a long row, one of many that lent the surface of the bog the temporary texture of corduroy. For a good square mile around them, little huts of footed turf covered the landscape. Here and there on the neighbors' allotments, large white plastic bags bulged with sods dried as hard as dung. "Any sign of her yet?" Brendan shouted to his brother, who raised his shoulders in a shrug and kept at his work. The two men had been hard at it since nine, with only a short tea break midmorning. Their sister Una was to bring them sandwiches and tea, and pitch in with footing the turf. It was cumbersome, backbreaking work, turning the sods by hand so that they dried in the sun. It would be another month before this lot could be drawn home. Tucking his handkerchief in his back pocket, Brendan descended once more into his gravelike void, noting with a small grimace of satisfaction the angled pattern his sleán had made down the wall of the bank. He was reaching the good black turf now, more appreciated in these parts for its long-burning density than for the fact that it had remained in this place, undisturbed and undecayed, for perhaps eight thousand years. He set to work again, trying to drown out the rumbling in his belly by concentrating on the sound and the rhythm of cutting. He was used to hard physical labor, but there was no doubt about it, something in the bog air put a fierce hunger on a man. What might the day's lunch be? Chicken sandwiches, or egg, or perhaps a bit of salty red bacon on a slab of brown bread. Each stroke became a wolfish bite, a slug of hot sweet tea to wash it down. One more row, he thought, heaving each successive sod with more violence, just one more row -- and then his blade stopped dead. "Shite!" Fintan's head poked into view at the edge of the cutaway. "What's the matter? Strike a bit of Noah's ark down there?" "Ah, no," Brendan said. "Only a bit of horsehair." There were four things, their father always said, that could stop a man cutting turf. Brendan could hear the old man's voice: Wig, water, blocks, and horsehair. Then he'd hold up four fingers in front of their faces. Meet any of them, boys, and it's your Waterloo. "Hand us down the spade, will yeh?" Fintan obliged, then leaned on the handle of his fork to watch. Though these things typically turned out to be tree trunks and roots, other wonders turned up in bogs occasionally -- rough beams of oak, ancient oxcarts, wheels of cheese or wooden tubs of butter. Stores buried for keeping in cool wetness and long since forgotten -- objects caught and suspended outside of time by the watery, airless, preserving power of the bog. Working deliberately, Brendan dug around the perimeter of the fibrous mat, probing for its edges, and scraping away loose bits of peat. He knelt on the spongy bank and pulled at the strands that began to emerge from the soaking turf. This was not horsehair; it was tangled and matted, all right, but it was too long, and far too fine to be the rooty material his father called horsehair. Brendan worked his broad fingers into the dense black peat he'd pried loose with the spade. Without warning, a block in his left hand gave way, and he cast it aside. "Holy Christ," Fintan whispered, and Brendan looked down. Almost touching his knee were the unmistakable and delicate curves of a human ear. It was stained a dark tobacco brown, and though the face was not visible, something in the line of the jaw, and the dripping tangle of fine hair above it, told him at once that this ear belonged to a woman. Brendan struggled to his feet, only dimly aware of the cold water that was seeping through the knees of his trousers and down into his wellingtons. "Sorry, lads. You must be perished with the hunger." Una's breathless apology carried toward them on a bit of breeze. "But you should have seen me. I was literally up to my elbows..." Her voice trailed off when she saw the faces her brothers turned toward her. Brendan watched her stained fingers tighten their grip on the flask, and on the sandwiches she'd wrapped hastily in paper, as Una stepped to the edge of the bank beside Fintan and looked down at their awful discovery. "Ah, Jaysus, poor creature" was all that she could say. Copyright (c) 2003 by Erin Hart Excerpted from Haunted Ground: A Novel by Erin Hart All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.