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Being an ex-pat on the “Emerald Isle,” the land of leprechauns, pubs, and whiskey, seems a dream fulfilled, but Alexa Gordon’s heroine finds an empty pot o’ gold at the end of this rainbow. Gethsemane Brown, thirty-six-year-old ex-pat in Dunmullach, Ireland, a talented musician with a doctorate from Yale, has taken a position at St. Brennan’s School for Boys as a teacher of general and instrumental music and conductor of the honor’s orchestra. This wasn't the job that she sought, but that job went to the conductor’s mistress. However, she refuses to return home in defeat; she would rather be unemployed or teaching at an out-of-the-way boys’ school, than deal with the criticism of her mother and sister. But, things go from bad to very bad when her luggage is lost and her money stolen; then very bad to worse discovering she has six-weeks to turn a mediocre boys’ orchestra into competition winners; last, worse to worst when she discovers she has an unusual roommate at the quaint Carraigefaire cottage in which she resides…the ghost of her musical idol long dead for twenty-five years in a murder/suicide. How could anyone pass up on this engaging tale!
Ghosts? Although telling people that the infamous Eamon McCarthy is “dead and well” and living in the cottage with her might garner some sympathy, she can't risk looking the fool. However resistant to even acknowledge her non-corporeal companion, he pleads with her to help uncover the truth and hopefully allowing him the opportunity to move on. He would not have murdered his wife Orla, and suicide? Never! So, in between her music classes, efforts to turn prankster boys into an award winning orchestra, navigating small town gossip, and trying to discover what McCarthy’s nephew is up to concerning the cottage, she investigates incompetence in the Gardaí (Irish police), missing evidence, another cold case link, and a few more curious deaths.
Wow! Totally entertaining! So much to engage the reader beyond the cold case of a murder/suicide. Alexa Gordon has provided a clever twist with the ghost of Gethsemane’s musical idol asking for her help, but it isn't juvenile hocus-pocus…it works! It works as an endearing friendship and love of music and…whiskey. A very engaging mystery reminiscent of any Agatha Christie tale, clever twists and turns adding possible suspects and motives, excellent descriptions and dialogue including several intriguing musical references, entertaining characters with some really, really quirky figures, and plenty of gossip, pranks, and banter to bring about a smile.
I chose to listen to the audio version of this story enriched by the voice artistry of Jessica Carroll. She goes well beyond the traditional reading out loud to include a British accent for the third-person narrative, an excellent American accent for Gethsemane, and a plethora of entertaining Irish brogues. Her talent gave voice to the emotions, personalities, young, old, female, but the male voices were lacking a bit…just a bit. No matter what version you choose, Alexa Gordon’s already engaging story is 5-star entertainment, and the audio version I'd give a big thumbs up! But don't stop here, there are two more books!