FROM THE BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF CRUEL DEEDS
– A Lesson in Malice
[ About A Lesson in Malice ]
She said yes to a dinner invitation. Now she’s a murder suspect …
Returning to her alma mater and memories of her youth is the last thing Finn Fitzpatrick wants to do right now. But when a former classmate invites her to speak at a university conference, Finn feels she can’t say no. Even though she has no idea why she’s been included among such high-profile guests, or invited to the exclusive dinner in the College president’s private dining room afterwards.
Then, three days later, a body is discovered in the College grounds, and everyone who was at the president’s dinner falls under suspicion.
Soon, Finn is deeply embroiled in the murder investigation. But as she looks more closely into her fellow dinner guests, behind their success she unearths a slew of damaging secrets, bitter rivalries and hidden agendas. Will Finn let sleeping dogs lie, or risk it all to uncover the truth?
[ My Review ]
A Lesson in Malice by Catherine Kirwan was just published June 29th with Hachette Ireland and is described as ‘a pacy, atmospheric page-turner. I was very lucky to attend the official launch of A Lesson in Malice Tuesday evening (July 4th) in Waterstones Cork and what an incredible evening it was. The store was packed near to capacity with the obvious love and support for Catherine Kirwan very palpable. Catherine Kirwan is a Waterford woman, but I think we can clearly say that she has been fully accepted as one of our own in The Rebel County!
The MC for the evening was the very entertaining Catherine Ryan Howard who warm-heartedly grilled Catherine on her decision to set her latest murder mystery in University College Cork and the importance of Cork City in her books.
A Lesson in Malice is the third book featuring our gutsy protagonist and sleuth, solicitor Finn Fitzpatrick, following on from Darkest Truth and Cruel Deeds. The city of Cork is always a very strong character in its own right in Catherine’s books but this time the focus is in a more academic setting, that of the stunning grounds and old buildings of University College Cork (which also happens to be my alma mater!)
Finn Fitzpatrick unexpectedly gets invited to attend a conference on campus, which is quite an unusual turn of events for Finn as she is not an academic.
‘I passed over grass and tarmac and up the seven steps and through the carved limestone Gothic doorway that was the rear entrance to the Aula Maxima, one of the university’s original buildings.‘
She gives her talk, conscious that she is a little out of her comfort zone but any attempt she makes to leave is thwarted by an expectation that she will attend the formal dinner that evening in the president’s private rooms. Over the course of the day, Finn senses a change in the atmosphere among some of the attendees but is dismissive as she gets caught up with her own case work. But three days later everything changes when a body is discovered and everyone who was in attendance that evening, including Finn, is under suspicion.
‘Returning more slowly the way she’d come, she noticed an odd unnameable odour. And she remembered the little door to the gallery. She hadn’t tried that one. She went to it. Stood for a moment. The smell seemed stronger here. She pressed her nose to the wood. Definitely stronger.’
Finn is hired by the college as a go-between with the police putting Finn in quite an extraordinary position as her best friend, Sadie, who is a member of the force, is involved with the murder investigation. As close friends they have often discussed cases and shared confidences over the years but this time Finn’s position makes this trade-off a little more difficult. Finn carves her own path, at times to the detriment of her own safety, but this time she sails a little too close to the wind and bites off more than she bargains for. Trouble is on the horizon and Finn Fitzpatrick is, as ever, slap bang in the middle of it, more so than she could ever possibly have imagined.
If you have ever walked the campus of UCC, the authenticity of Catherine’s descriptions will just shine through. If you have never been, then Catherine’s writing brings it very much alive, with very vivid imagery and colourful depictions of its idyllic grounds. With short and pacy chapters, the story rips along at a great speed, immersing the reader deep into the bowels of academia, in this case, into hidden depths riddled with secrets and subterfuge.
Having UCC as the backdrop for A Lesson in Malice provides an incredibly historical setting, with its beautiful gardens and old buildings. I haven’t read a murder mystery set in UCC before and now, scratching my head, I wonder why is that? It took a blow-in (excuse me Catherine!) to see what is right there under our noses, the perfect location for a devious crime.
I am happy to report that Catherine did mention a Book 4 in development so we will definitely be seeing more of Finn Fitzpatrick in the future. Her character develops more in every book, offering the reader additional insights into her personality and quirks.
Full of intrigue with a right good helping of red herrings, A Lesson in Malice is an atmospheric and engaging murder mystery. With Cork city as her side-kick, Finn Fitzpatrick is a wonderful bloodhound with a ballsy attitude and a measured approach to solving a crime.
[ Bio ]
Catherine Kirwan grew up on a farm in the parish of Fews, County Waterford. She studied law at UCC and lives in Cork where she works as a solicitor. Her first novel, Darkest Truth, was chosen as Cork’s One City One Book in 2019.
Her second book, Cruel Deeds, is out now in paperback, published by Hachette Ireland, and her third, ‘A Lesson in Malice’, was published in June 2023, also by Hachette Ireland.
Twitter ~ @catherinekirwan