Breaking News: Lisa Q. Matthews is the winner of Buried Troubles! Congratulations, Lisa. Watch your email for one from Marian.
Edith here, on my older son’s 32nd birthday (and the day I become a mother for reals) – happy day, Allan! I’m always delighted to welcome good friend Marian Stanley to the blog. I read the manuscript of her new book, Buried Troubles, and you’re going to love it! And she’s going to send a copy of Buried Troubles to a selected commentator.
In the book, Rosaria O’Reilly finds herself in grave danger from those who won’t let go of the past in this thrilling sequel to The Immaculate.
Still recovering from injuries sustained during her last effort in solving a murder, Rosaria is dragged into a new case with ties to the Irish community on both sides of the Atlantic. The victim is an Irish journalism student working on a research paper in Boston. His aunt, a friend of Rosaria’s, reaches out to her for help in solving the case. This does not go over well with Rosaria’s significant other, Boston Police Detective Solly Belkin, who wants Rosaria to leave the case in his capable hands. Instead, Rosaria travels to Ireland and is caught up in a dark web of ancient grievances, old crimes, and secrets that powerful people are determined to keep hidden forever.
Can Rosaria unearth these buried troubles and solve the murder before the killer buries her instead?
Take it away, Marian!
Maybe someday I’ll write in a cottage in Western Ireland like Sheila Connolly’s. Like this one in Ballyconneely, Connemara—my grandmother’s home village, and that of the murder victim in Buried Troubles, a Rosaria O’Reilly mystery set in Boston and Western Ireland.
Early in the last century, my Gaelic-speaking grandmother, Mary Agnes Burke, left this remote village as a teenager—coming to a tightknit Irish enclave in the Charlestown neighborhood of Boston. She got a job as a housekeeper in the rectory of (what else?) Saint Mary’s church, married James O’Leary, and moved to Malden where they raised six children. Not an uncommon immigrant story.
Charlestown, like some other Boston neighborhoods, was a waystation for many of these young people. It wasn’t Ireland, but almost—the customs, the music, the Church, the insular prejudices. And the history. Old memories and grievances from a small, poor island with one great and powerful oppressor never really went away. Buried Troubles is the story of some caught in the long reach of that history.
A successful rebellion created an independent republic in the south of Ireland, but the British kept six northern counties as part of the deal. That part of the deal and longstanding Catholic civil rights issues in the north resulted in a decades-long, savage war in Northern Ireland given the curiously genteel name of The Troubles. Stubborn pockets of Irish republican support for the insurgency flourished in certain American cities, including Boston. For some, the fervor for a unified Ireland excused much more than it should have.
Over time, most of the immigrants of my grandmother’s generation were too busy working and raising children to go to the hall for the ceili or dance. No one spoke Gaelic here. When homesick immigrants went home to Ireland for visits, they found it poor. They missed the comforts of their new country. (“Imagine,” my grandmother said, “We still had to start the fire for a little pot of tea.”) So, gradually, most of them moved on to new lives, a new history.
But some couldn’t. My paternal grandfather, Patrick McMahon, never spoke again to his youngest daughter (another Mary, of course) when she married a Charlestown man from a family said to have informed for the British. This was the worst sin—to be a “tout”, a snitch, an informer. Sadly, this particular Mary died in childbirth and we know little about her.
Today, Charlestown is a hip neighborhood, home to many young professionals with small children and dogs. Our own daughter Mary (what else?) lives not too far from old Saint Mary’s church where her great-grandmother was a housekeeper. Every day, she travels the same streets where Mary Agnes, James O’Leary, and my ill-fated Aunt Mary lived as young immigrants.
Our Mary is too young, too sensible, and far too busy to feel the presence of ghosts in this old neighborhood. For my part, I feel the spirits. I see the two Marys—my grandmother and the aunt I never knew—everywhere. I see new versions of them in young Hispanic immigrants in Chelsea and Everett. All in a new home, but carrying so much history.
Readers: If your family had a coming-to-America experience (not everyone’s was voluntary and some people were already here), what memories did they bring with them to America? What’s your own story of traveling to a distant land? I’m happy to send a copy of Buried Troubles to a selected commentator.
Marian McMahon Stanley is the author of two Rosaria O’Reilly mysteries from Barking Rain Press – The Immaculate (May 2016) and Buried Troubles (June 2018) as well as a recent short story “Career Transitions” in the Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine. Marian enjoyed a long international corporate career and, most recently, a senior position at an urban university. A dual citizen of the United States and Ireland, she writes in a small town outside Boston, where she lives with her husband Bill and a Westie named Archie. She is now working on the next in the Rosaria series The Mariposa Circle. www.marianmcmahonstanley.com