Publisher: Arcade Crimewise
Publication Date: October 4th, 2022
Pages: 336, hardcover
January 1921. Though the Great War is over, in Ireland a new civil war is raging. The once-grand Kilcolgan House, a crumbling bastion shrouded in sea mist, lies half empty and filled with ghosts, both real and imagined, while it shelters the surviving members of the Prendeville family. Then, when an IRA ambush goes terribly wrong, Maud Prendeville, Lord Kilcolgan’s eldest daughter, is killed, leaving the family reeling. Yet the IRA column behind the attack insists they left her alive, that someone else must be responsible for her terrible fate. Captain Tom Harkin, an IRA intelligence officer and Maud’s former fiancé, is sent to investigate. He becomes an unwelcome guest in this strange, gloomy household.
Working undercover, Harkin must delve into the house’s secrets—and discover where, in this fractured, embattled town, allegiances truly lie. But Harkin too is haunted by the ghosts of the past and by his terrible experiences on the battlefields. Can he find the truth about Maud’s death before the past—and his strange, unnerving surroundings—overwhelm him?
Tom Harkin is haunted, haunted by the recent war, haunted by those who died, and by those he left behind. One of those is Maud Prendeville, once his future wife, and now, a victim of an ambush that Tom is sent to investigate.
WWI has been over for three years, but the “rebels” are fighting for their freedom from a different oppressor, in The Winter Guest, set in the Ireland during the Troubles. Tom is ostensibly an insurance investigator, but he has multiple roles to play. He finds out that he’s not alone in the game, and not knowing whom to trust will cost him his life, possibly at the hands of his countrymen.
The book was very enjoyable, although I did expect a bit more on the ghostly side, having read Ryan’s A House of Ghosts. Winter Guest has the same great description of the environs, the people, and the relationships between them. It’s necessarily a bit grimmer than his other book, but every bit as enjoyable. The characters are well-drawn and, even when you know what’s going to happen next, may still surprise you.