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Mississippi Valley Archaeology Center

Haunted Ground by Erin Hart

August 1, 2003

Scribner, New York
2003 (hc)

This is a first novel by a new young author and I can strongly believe that we readers will have many years of enjoyment ahead of us if Erin Hart persists in her career as a writer. Erin Hart, a graduate of St. Olaf College and the University of Minnesota, was communications director for the Minnesota Arts Board and is a founder of Minnesota’s Irish Music and Dance Association. I cite these biographical details because Ms. Hart artfully and seamlessly weaves her experiences into this wonderfully atmospheric novel of Ireland, archaeology and murder.

Nora Gavin is one of her protagonists—an American born (Minneapolis, in fact) pathologist—called in to aid Irish archaeologist Cormac Maguire when the severed head of beautiful young red-headed woman is discovered by Irish farmers cutting turf in a peat bog. Because of the recent disappearance of a young mother and her son from the same vicinity, a third protagonist, police officer Garrett Devaney, is introduced to the reader. It is soon established that the disembodied head is truly a bog body— at first believed to be anywhere from several hundred to a thousand years old. Yet the two mysteries – the missing mother and son and the ancient victim—are intertwined and united by the sadness that is so often a part of Irish history.

Erin Hart’s storytelling abilities are remarkable, her ear for Irish dialogue fairly sings at times, and her descriptions of the Irish countryside and its urban features are wonderful to read. And she tells an awfully good murder mystery! This is one book that I heartily urge readers to go out and buy now—don’t wait for the paperback. This is too good a book to postpone the pleasure of reading!