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Part war story, part murder mystery, this thriller evokes a time, a place and a breed of men which have all been airbrushed out of Ireland's history.' - Ed O'Loughlin, author of the Booker longlisted 'Not Untrue, Not Unkind'. Peeler: The most exciting new fiction novel to come out of Ireland in years. West Cork. November 1920. The Irish War of Independence rages. The body Part war story, part murder mystery, this thriller evokes a time, a place and a breed of men which have all been airbrushed out of Ireland's history.' - Ed O'Loughlin, author of the Booker longlisted 'Not Untrue, Not Unkind'. Peeler: The most exciting new fiction novel to come out of Ireland in years. West Cork. November 1920. The Irish War of Independence rages. The body of a young woman is found brutally murdered on a windswept hillside, a scrapboard sign covering her mutilated body reads ‘TRATOR’. Traitor. Acting Sergeant Séan O’Keefe of the Royal Irish Constabulary, a wounded veteran of the Great War, is assigned to investigate the crime, aided by sinister detectives sent from Dublin Castle to ensure he finds the killer, just so long as the killer he finds best serves the purposes of the crown in Ireland. . . The IRA has instigated its own investigation into the young woman’s death, assigning young Volunteer Liam Farrell – failed gunman and former law student – to the task of finding a killer it cannot allow to be one of its own. Unknown to each other, the RIC Constable and the IRA Volunteer relentlessly pursue the truth behind the savage killing, their investigations taking them from the bullet-pocked lanes and thriving brothels of a war-torn Cork city to the rugged, deadly hills of West Cork, both seeking a killer, both seeking to stay alive in a time where 'murder’s as common as rain and no one knows a thing about it, even when they do. ' 'Compelling' The Irish Times 'A cracking good detective story' The Irish Story 'A vivid, sometimes stunning evocation of Ireland's fascinating historical period through one police officer's life.' The Philidephedia Enquirer 'Superb historical thriller' Declan Burke @ Crime always Pays


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Part war story, part murder mystery, this thriller evokes a time, a place and a breed of men which have all been airbrushed out of Ireland's history.' - Ed O'Loughlin, author of the Booker longlisted 'Not Untrue, Not Unkind'. Peeler: The most exciting new fiction novel to come out of Ireland in years. West Cork. November 1920. The Irish War of Independence rages. The body Part war story, part murder mystery, this thriller evokes a time, a place and a breed of men which have all been airbrushed out of Ireland's history.' - Ed O'Loughlin, author of the Booker longlisted 'Not Untrue, Not Unkind'. Peeler: The most exciting new fiction novel to come out of Ireland in years. West Cork. November 1920. The Irish War of Independence rages. The body of a young woman is found brutally murdered on a windswept hillside, a scrapboard sign covering her mutilated body reads ‘TRATOR’. Traitor. Acting Sergeant Séan O’Keefe of the Royal Irish Constabulary, a wounded veteran of the Great War, is assigned to investigate the crime, aided by sinister detectives sent from Dublin Castle to ensure he finds the killer, just so long as the killer he finds best serves the purposes of the crown in Ireland. . . The IRA has instigated its own investigation into the young woman’s death, assigning young Volunteer Liam Farrell – failed gunman and former law student – to the task of finding a killer it cannot allow to be one of its own. Unknown to each other, the RIC Constable and the IRA Volunteer relentlessly pursue the truth behind the savage killing, their investigations taking them from the bullet-pocked lanes and thriving brothels of a war-torn Cork city to the rugged, deadly hills of West Cork, both seeking a killer, both seeking to stay alive in a time where 'murder’s as common as rain and no one knows a thing about it, even when they do. ' 'Compelling' The Irish Times 'A cracking good detective story' The Irish Story 'A vivid, sometimes stunning evocation of Ireland's fascinating historical period through one police officer's life.' The Philidephedia Enquirer 'Superb historical thriller' Declan Burke @ Crime always Pays

30 review for Peeler: Irish Historical Fiction

  1. 5 out of 5

    LenaRibka

    A murder mystery set in 1920 in Ireland and therefor an excellent historical novel with an insight into the Irish War of Independence. You can't write about ANYTHING happened at that turbulence time and exclude the politics. I googled a lot the last week (and the week before because I read a lot of Irish fiction lately) and I think I begin slowly to understand the historical background behind the Irish conflict. It is a very complex problem, and I think the author did a great job to tell about i A murder mystery set in 1920 in Ireland and therefor an excellent historical novel with an insight into the Irish War of Independence. You can't write about ANYTHING happened at that turbulence time and exclude the politics. I googled a lot the last week (and the week before because I read a lot of Irish fiction lately) and I think I begin slowly to understand the historical background behind the Irish conflict. It is a very complex problem, and I think the author did a great job to tell about it through characters representing the both sides. The main character, Sergeant Sean O'Keefe of the Royal Irish Constabulary, is the one I am looking forward to reading more about. He reminds me of Sean Duffy, a fictional hero of Sean Duffy series by Adrian McKinty. Caught between two conflict parties - Irish Republican Army and the British government's police - he is torn between two worlds: "I want an independent Ireland the same as them. I just think there's a right and wrong way to go about getting it, that's all." I enjoyed the characters, an atmospheric crime drama and a strong historical aspect a lot though I think the book would have been much better, had it at least 50 pages less. Some parts were a bit too lengthy for my taste. I am not quite happy with the ending also, not with the plot twist but rather with the writing style itself. It didn't feel as good as the rest of the book. Again me complaining at a high level. Of course, I am looking forward to reading the next installment. 4 stars, rounded up

  2. 4 out of 5

    Cphe

    I thought this book was excellent. Not only as a mystery, but it also managed to bring a time in Ireland's troubled history, the War of Independence, to life on the page. The story opens with the discovery of a young woman's mutilated body on a lonely hillside outside of Cork. The body has been tarred and feathered and a sign "trator" has been placed around her neck. Sergeant Sean O'Keefe is a "Peeler" in the Royal Irish Constabulary in 1920. He is also a survivor of the Great War, although he was I thought this book was excellent. Not only as a mystery, but it also managed to bring a time in Ireland's troubled history, the War of Independence, to life on the page. The story opens with the discovery of a young woman's mutilated body on a lonely hillside outside of Cork. The body has been tarred and feathered and a sign "trator" has been placed around her neck. Sergeant Sean O'Keefe is a "Peeler" in the Royal Irish Constabulary in 1920. He is also a survivor of the Great War, although he was not unscathed by it's horrors. As he begins his investigation he finds himself aided or hindered by various factions each wanting to ensure that the "right" culprit is brought to justice. Sean O'Keefe is a complex and multi layered character. He's dogged in his pursuit of the truth and it is surprising as the book unfolds just who will aid his quest in the pursuit of justice. Set in 1920, there is a very real sense of time and place. Sean O'Keefe must navigate the class structure within Ireland, and also within the ranks of the police force. The book is atmospheric and moody, it is also bleak, dour and gritty. There is violence and cruelty, justice handed out to people deemed collaborators. At heart, a well thought out police procedural without the use of modern forensics. I wish that I'd stumbled across this book earlier. It was one that I was sorry to see end.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Eric_W

    The book takes place shortly after WW I. Tensions between the Army, IRA, and local cops are horrible, with each shooting the other almost at will. Going out after curfew risks being shot by either side. Peeler is the derogatory word for policeman in Ireland. The book begins in 1920 with the discovery of a woman's body splayed out on the side of a hill, naked and tarred and feathered with the word "Trator" [sic] written on a plank on her chest. Being a policeman (RIC for Royal Irish Constabulary) The book takes place shortly after WW I. Tensions between the Army, IRA, and local cops are horrible, with each shooting the other almost at will. Going out after curfew risks being shot by either side. Peeler is the derogatory word for policeman in Ireland. The book begins in 1920 with the discovery of a woman's body splayed out on the side of a hill, naked and tarred and feathered with the word "Trator" [sic] written on a plank on her chest. Being a policeman (RIC for Royal Irish Constabulary) in the "troubles" was a terrifying job and before they could inspect the body they had to have an army patrol search the hillside for potential snipers and ambush. But the IRA wants to know who did the crime as well. The signature of the killing is an ice pick through the back of the brain. And then similar killings happen. The summer 2008 issue of Mystery Review Journal has a very interesting article by Jim Doherty ("Just the Facts: Mole to Manhunter") that discusses the relationship between the RIC and the British government. His article is very helpful in sorting out the intricacies of the relationships of the RIC, Black and Tans, Irish Volunteers and the Reserve forces. There are a bewildering number of abbreviations. He notes, "As a policeman myself, I’m, at best, ambivalent about this strategy, but I can understand it. The fact is the main armed force maintaining British rule in Ireland was not the Army, but the police. Indeed, the most infamous enemies of the Irish Volunteers during the War for Independence, the notorious Black and Tans, were not a branch of the British Army, as is commonly supposed, but the Reserve Force of the RIC. Moreover, if you regard yourself as being at war, and the war you have to fight is a guerilla war against an occupying force, cops are, frankly, legitimate military targets. During World War II, would French resistance fighters, for example, have been wrong to target Gestapo officers, or even collaborating Surete officers, on the grounds that they were cops, not soldiers? Or were members of the Gestapo just as legitimate a target as, say, members of the Wehrmacht, the Waffen-SS, or the Luftwaffe? I don’t mean to suggest that officers in the RIC or the DMP were comparable to the Gestapo. That would be not only fatuous, but terribly unjust. Nevertheless, there’s no denying that the British-backed police in Ireland played essentially the same role there that the German-backed police did in occupied France. And, if members of the Irish Volunteers, soon to be known as the Irish Republican Army (and known today as the “Old IRA,” to distinguish it from later groups using the same name), sincerely believed that their war for independence was justified, then it followed that those British-backed police were legitimate targets." O'Keefe is a dedicated cop and goes where the leads take him. Unfortunately they lead him to waters where the powers that be, i.e. the British, would rather not have them go. And the IRA want the killer caught as well. And he has to control his men from beating up civilians who they think are responsible for allowing ambushes of their men. It's a mess. McCarthy does a very nice job of creating an atmosphere of the geography and time. I hope he writes more of Sean O'Keefe. 4.5 stars, really.

  4. 5 out of 5

    D.J. Kelly

    Remarkably, I could find only 2 historical crime novels set in the era of the Irish War of Independence. David Lawlor's 'Tan' (in kindle format only thus far) is also a great read. 'Running with Crows - The Life and Death of a Black and Tan' by DJ Kelly is due out end of March 2013 however. I went looking for some fiction set in this period, which was pivotal in terms of Anglo-Irish history, hoping to find more, not least because we are now embarking upon a decade of centenaries for the 'Irish R Remarkably, I could find only 2 historical crime novels set in the era of the Irish War of Independence. David Lawlor's 'Tan' (in kindle format only thus far) is also a great read. 'Running with Crows - The Life and Death of a Black and Tan' by DJ Kelly is due out end of March 2013 however. I went looking for some fiction set in this period, which was pivotal in terms of Anglo-Irish history, hoping to find more, not least because we are now embarking upon a decade of centenaries for the 'Irish Revolution' [1913-1923]. McCarthy's novel is a well-written, well-paced, thoroughly engaging story, factually accurate in most respects and with wholly credible characters. It has attracted many good reviews, justifiably so. Surprising therefore that Mercier Press do not have any more books covering this era. You Cork fellahs missing a trick, maybe?

  5. 5 out of 5

    Sharon

    A historical novel based in 1920 Ireland revealing the times and trials of the constabulary and Republican "trouble" after WW1 returning to an Ireland that was in the midst of another type of war. The characters are real and the politics are startling. It reeks of classism at its worst and the mystery of a horrible and disgusting crime and the people that are trying to resolve the murder and those hiding the truth. The terrible attacks on both sides are sad and I'm sure there is truth behind the A historical novel based in 1920 Ireland revealing the times and trials of the constabulary and Republican "trouble" after WW1 returning to an Ireland that was in the midst of another type of war. The characters are real and the politics are startling. It reeks of classism at its worst and the mystery of a horrible and disgusting crime and the people that are trying to resolve the murder and those hiding the truth. The terrible attacks on both sides are sad and I'm sure there is truth behind the writing.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Rob Kitchin

    There is much to like about Peeler. It’s well researched, with a great deal of attention to historical accuracy and recreating the social and political landscape of County Cork in 1920, and it’s well written with a decent plot and good characterization. Sean O’Keefe, in particular, is a well drawn and complex character caught as he is between two worlds. Indeed, I hope McCarthy has another O’Keefe book in the works as he’s somebody I’d like to spend a bit more time discovering. Another strength There is much to like about Peeler. It’s well researched, with a great deal of attention to historical accuracy and recreating the social and political landscape of County Cork in 1920, and it’s well written with a decent plot and good characterization. Sean O’Keefe, in particular, is a well drawn and complex character caught as he is between two worlds. Indeed, I hope McCarthy has another O’Keefe book in the works as he’s somebody I’d like to spend a bit more time discovering. Another strength of the story is that it doesn't fall into the trap of a simplistic rendering of the Irish war of independence, instead providing a multifaceted and nuanced portrayal of the complex web of professional, familial and community loyalties and obligations. To my taste, the book though is a little too rich in historical detail – my preference is to front the story and let the context come through telling, as with Philip Kerr or Alan Furst, rather than to explicitly provide a lot of contextual scaffolding through extended description. This would have also had the benefit of slimming the book by removing or trimming some passages that had little to do with the plot directly. I would have also preferred a bit more balance in the O’Keefe and Farrell (the IRA man) threads. That said, this is a very good and entertaining read and if you like historical crime fiction then this comes recommended.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Giovanna

    You learn quite a lot from this book about Ireland and in particular a dramatic chapter of that country's history. It also provides an insight into the psyche of the Irish people in the 1920's. The prose is not dense and moves quickly along yet the book is full of detail revealing the author to be a good researcher as well as a good writer. What I enjoyed most about this book is that, with compassionate irony, the author explores that dark side of humanity that war represents. Above all, this is You learn quite a lot from this book about Ireland and in particular a dramatic chapter of that country's history. It also provides an insight into the psyche of the Irish people in the 1920's. The prose is not dense and moves quickly along yet the book is full of detail revealing the author to be a good researcher as well as a good writer. What I enjoyed most about this book is that, with compassionate irony, the author explores that dark side of humanity that war represents. Above all, this is a great detective story which I would highly recommend to anybody. Giovanna

  8. 4 out of 5

    Lee Holz

    Peeler crosses a number of genres to create an engrossing story. Its background is a well-researched historical account of 1920 Ireland and the war of rebellion that ultimately secured the country’s freedom. It’s an exciting action thriller detailing some of the fighting of that war. Above all, it’s a well-plotted, well-executed police procedural of murder and corruption.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Judie

    Peeler is an historical police procedural set in 1920's Ireland. It was a good read with plenty of twists and turns, accurate history and a little too long at the end. Other than that I enjoyed the book.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Nick Metcalfe

    The best novel that I have read about Ireland in the early 20thC. Extremely well researched and written in a style that wraps the reader in the complexities of that era. The plot is well developed and the characters are believable. Excellent - highly recommended.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Parnell

    Set in 1920 in the middle of the Irish war of independence, and soon after the first world war. This book is more than a crime drama, it weaves the pain and suffering of the Irish people with the recent scars of the great war into a remarkable work of fiction.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    Interesting combination of detective novel and historical fiction. Also, a lot of interesting, complex characters and strong sense of time (1920) and place (Ireland). Definitely look forward to reading another one in the series.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Colin Ring

    Superior Irish historical crime novel. Looking forward to Irregulars!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Graham Watson

    Gritty, authentic and gives you the feeling of being there

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jim Mccabe

    Enjoyed the history Good police story about politics and crime in post-WWI Ireland. Better than the normal crime thriller because of the politics and history.

  16. 5 out of 5

    David

    One of the only books I have ever come across that is set in Ireland during the War of Independence

  17. 5 out of 5

    Anita H

    Historically fascinating, good characters and story. Could have used some editing to move the story along a bit faster

  18. 4 out of 5

    Book Addict Shaun

    When searching for Irish crime fiction to read for #IrishFiction week, I stumbled across Peeler. Not only did it sound like a book right up my street, but the main character has the same full name as me, so I simply had to read it for #IrishFiction week and I am so glad that I did. Crime fiction readers will know just what a saturated genre it is, and since becoming a blogger I've found that to be the case even more. Peeler is very different to my usual crime reads, so it was both exciting and r When searching for Irish crime fiction to read for #IrishFiction week, I stumbled across Peeler. Not only did it sound like a book right up my street, but the main character has the same full name as me, so I simply had to read it for #IrishFiction week and I am so glad that I did. Crime fiction readers will know just what a saturated genre it is, and since becoming a blogger I've found that to be the case even more. Peeler is very different to my usual crime reads, so it was both exciting and refreshing to read a book like this. Most of the crime fiction I have read set in Ireland has focused on the more recent Troubles, yet in Peeler we go all the way back to 1920, to the Irish War of Independence, a time that has been captured all too well by McCarthy, creating a tense, atmospheric and suspenseful read from start to finish. When the body of a young woman is found brutally murdered, a sign covering her body reading 'TRATOR' (traitor), it isn't just O'Keefe investigating the murder. The IRA have sent one of their volunteers, Liam Farrell to find a killer that it cannot allow to be one of their own. O'Keefe is an interesting character, and one who isn't welcomed by most of the people that he works with or those who he encounters during the novel. There are plenty of unexpected developments over the course of the novel, many of which I failed to see coming. It's hard to know what points to pick up on with a book like this. All too often I read reviews and wish, 'God, I wish I could write like that' and this is a book that I feel deserves a review without all those cliches of 'Oh it was fantastic, unputdownable' etc. It is clear from the outset that McCarthy has carried out meticulous research, and that, alongside a tightly-woven plot with fantastic characterisation makes for a hugely enjoyable read. Corruption in modern day crime novels is of course evident, often under the radar and less obvious, yet in Peeler corruption comes from everywhere, and O'Keefe is not afraid to speak up, seek it out, and act in the good of the people that he is trying to protect. Despite moving at a nice pace, the book did feel a little long-winded at times. Peeler is a very thought-provoking book, one that could provide many hours of discussion amongst any book club, and it's a story that people will take different things from, and react differently to based upon their opinions and/or past experiences. O'Keefe is a character that definitely deserves a series, so I am glad to see that there's a second novel featuring him, and I will be hoping to read Irregulars soon. All in all, a remarkable debut, and probably one of the best crime novels I will read this year. As a side note it's interesting just how much I learnt whilst reading this book. I studied History at GCSE and can probably recall about 30% of what I learnt during those two years. Fiction such as Peeler, which (to me at least) feels so incredibly accurate, should perhaps be used over the traditional teaching methods to educate people about this time. It's certainly a more enjoyable way to take information in.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Phyllis Gauker

    Although my DNA says I am 68% Irish I do not know the culture or expressions used etc in the 1920s when this book is set. I found that hard, not always knowing the meaning of what was being said, even in context, but that is my deficiency, not the author's unless he'd have chosen to "translate" every blip of conversation, which would have been awkward to say the least. Not only did I not know expressions, but I didn't understand so many variations of police, army, volunteers etc. I could not tel Although my DNA says I am 68% Irish I do not know the culture or expressions used etc in the 1920s when this book is set. I found that hard, not always knowing the meaning of what was being said, even in context, but that is my deficiency, not the author's unless he'd have chosen to "translate" every blip of conversation, which would have been awkward to say the least. Not only did I not know expressions, but I didn't understand so many variations of police, army, volunteers etc. I could not tell who was against whom, who were countrymen and who were the English etc. But by the last chapter, it mattered not. There was not, and is not, a solution to the lack of amity in this island nation who has for centuries held superstitions and ancient myths alongside more organized religion and government.Maybe it's just the nature of man, and nothing particular to the nature of Irish, but it was good to be able to "let go"and know nothing need be proved.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Barbpie

    set over the course of a week in 1920s Ireland, this thriller really sucked me in. Acting sergeant Sean O'Keefe served Britain in World War 1, and is now a "peeler" or policeman back in Ireland. However, he and his colleagues are caught between the Irish Republican Army and their masters in the British government. It sounds complicated and it is--no one is safe, and solving the murder uncovered on the first page of the book is impossible without risking life and limb in the process. But O'Keefe set over the course of a week in 1920s Ireland, this thriller really sucked me in. Acting sergeant Sean O'Keefe served Britain in World War 1, and is now a "peeler" or policeman back in Ireland. However, he and his colleagues are caught between the Irish Republican Army and their masters in the British government. It sounds complicated and it is--no one is safe, and solving the murder uncovered on the first page of the book is impossible without risking life and limb in the process. But O'Keefe is nothing if not tenacious and he and the other characters are stunningly drawn and incredibly alive on the page.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Yuki Shimmyo

    This has nothing to do with the book, but I met Kevin while we were teaching English on the JET Program in Japan 20 years ago! It's amazing to know he stayed in Ireland (he's American) and has become an author. I remember he was, verbally at least, a fantastic storyteller. Can't wait to check this out! http://www.criticalmick.com/criticalm... This has nothing to do with the book, but I met Kevin while we were teaching English on the JET Program in Japan 20 years ago! It's amazing to know he stayed in Ireland (he's American) and has become an author. I remember he was, verbally at least, a fantastic storyteller. Can't wait to check this out! http://www.criticalmick.com/criticalm...

  22. 4 out of 5

    Gary Allen

    Not having much of a background in the history of Ireland this proved to be a good primer for the times of 'the troubles' wrapped in a well written mystery. It is dark but then so were the times so it is all fitting. I have traveled to parts of Ireland and reading this book took me back.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Siobhan

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Really well-written, and set in an historically fascinating period. My only disappointment is that the nature of the crime itself was not more imaginative. So many murder mysteries turn on violent sex crimes. I think McCarthy can do better, and I'm looking forward to reading another

  24. 4 out of 5

    Roger Boyle

    Nice story abut a piece of history that I knew very little about. Provocative. But not really very well written - too many explicatory passages, too many cliches. I may pick up the sequel, which is reputedly better, but not just yet.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Rory Staines

  26. 4 out of 5

    Dan Hiner

  27. 4 out of 5

    Aodan Brennan

  28. 4 out of 5

    Joe

  29. 5 out of 5

    shirley purvis

  30. 5 out of 5

    Marilyn Somers

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