Sarah Stewart Taylor: A Distant Grave

The second in Stewart Taylor’s Maggie D’Arcy series follows her elegiac first outing, The Mountains Wild, my favorite read of 2020.  Maggie is a Long Island homicide cop, but as the first novel explored, she has deep roots in Ireland.  In the first novel she searches for her long lost cousin’s killer; in the second novel, the crime occurs up the street from her home, but the roots of the story again take her back to Ireland.

She’s left behind a new-old flame in Ireland and has been planning a long vacation there with her daughter to visit him, but she catches a homicide case two days before they plan to leave.  When it turns out the victim was Irish, she figures she can combine business and pleasure, and her boss gives her leave to take off. read more

Sarah Stewart Taylor: The Mountains Wild

This novel will be released on June 23, 2020.

I was a huge fan of Sarah Stewart Taylor’s Sweeney St. George series, published in the early 2000’s.  Sweeney was an expert on gravestone iconography, and the books were beautifully written, thoughtful mysteries.  Stewart Taylor has been away from mystery fiction since 2006, and this return feels more polished, more pointed in its narrative drive – it’s a step up.  I’ll say up front it’s one of the best books I’ve read this year.

It’s not a total departure from the Sweeney books – the passion is there, the love of history is there, but it’s more focused.  It follows the story of Maggie D’Arcy, who, as an adult, is a homicide detective on Long Island, but who, as a 20 something, lost the cousin who was like a sister to her.  The cousin, Erin, had left the states for Ireland, and hasn’t been heard from since 1993.  There are other young women who were killed (and discovered) in the same area, and Maggie and the rest of her family are pretty sure Erin is dead, but they’d like to know. read more