‘On Glenbeg Farm, it was a sunny morning like any other.
Only the distressed bark of beloved collie Samson hinted that all was not well’
– There’s Something I have to Tell You
[ About There’s Something I Have To Tell You ]
When the bodies of wealthy matriarch Ursula Kennedy and her farmer husband Jimmy are pulled from the slurry pit on Glenbeg Farm, shock ricochets throughout the family and community. Was this a tragic accident?
Or is there more to it than meets the eye?
Their son Rob, once destined for a high-flying legal career, is now involved in the family business. He seems distraught about his parents’ deaths, but rumours soon spread about tensions on the home front.
Rob’s wife Kate had a difficult relationship with Ursula. Life will certainly be easier now, without her every move being controlled by her imperious mother-in-law.
Meanwhile, Christina, the victims’ fragile daughter, is carrying a private pain she’s never been able to speak about.
As vivid memories rush back of another tragic death on the farm some years ago, a toxic secret is set to come to the surface, one that has been simmering for decades . . .
[ My Review ]
There’s Something I Have To Tell You by Michelle McDonagh published today, April 13th, with Hachette Ireland. The tagline for this book is – ‘Long-buried family secrets fight their way to the surface in this compelling mystery‘ – and can I just say that this seriously is a very compelling read. Michelle McDonagh has found inspiration in a slurry pit (yes I did say a slurry pit!) and brought us all this riveting debut, set against an agricultural background and featuring the finest cast of characters. When I finished reading it, I referred to it as being a rural Succession. The toxicity radiating from one particular individual would give the Roy family a run for their money.
In recent years we have all read multiple psychological thrillers. Unfortunately, on occasion, a sense of déjà vu can set in. This time around, it really was a very refreshing experience to pick up a book that felt different, a book that felt out on its own, with its unique take on an old tale. There is nothing new about internal strife on a farm following a death but Michelle McDonagh has put her own twist on this old story. She has created a tangled and tense mystery, with a matriarch from hell and a family with many secrets to tell.
Glenbeg Farm developed and expanded over the years under the stewardship of Ursula Kennedy. When she married into the Kennedy family with Jimmy, Ursula took control of the financial side of the business. Ursula had a great head for ideas and was very successful. She developed one of the first open farms in the country at that time and made very canny and sound investments. Ursula loved the limelight. She looked after herself, keeping regular beauty appointments and dressing with a great sense of style at all times. Jimmy was a farmer. Life for Jimmy was his animals and the farm. Born and bred in a rural environment, Jimmy had no time for the trappings of life. With Ursula, he had three children, Mark, Rob and Christine and for many years he gave off the illusion of contentment.
Following a tragic event on the farm, Rob, and his wife Kate, put a stop to their fledgling careers and returned home to help out at Glenbeg. Now, many years later, with small children of their own, life is beginning to be a challenge and Kate is at her wits end. This was not the future with Rob that she had hoped and dreamed of. Meanwhile, Rob’s sister, Christine, is a shadow of her former self, a highly sensitive individual, who struggles with living, struggles to survive.
Glenbeg Farm, and all the local community, are left reeling when Ursula and Jimmy Kennedy go missing one day, only to be found at the bottom of the slurry pit. Shock, grief and anger take hold as those left behind seeking answers. When the local Gardaí start to probe deeper, attention is turned toward the family. Is there a murderer in their midst? What really happened on that tragic day? How did Ursula and Jimmy Kennedy end up dead in a normally protected slurry pit?
As the chapters unfold, a picture slowly starts to reveal itself of a dysfunctional family with some dark, dark secrets in its past. The plot thickens, the tension mounts and a wonderfully complex portrayal of familial relationships is developed.
Michelle McDonagh has been writing, in some form or other, for over 25 years and this experience has clearly stood to her. I thoroughly enjoyed this engrossing, engaging and cleverly convoluted tale of an agricultural family with rot at its core, just like the apples displayed on the cover. Although based in Ireland, this story could be set anywhere. Land is central to many disputes, with families at loggerheads the world over as inheritances are fought over, with internal rivalries destroying many relationships.
There’s Something I have to Tell You is a superbly crafted mystery, a seriously clever debut. It is an original tale highlighting the volatility of family relationships and the invisible ties that hold them together, written with a controlled and expert hand. Bravo Michelle McDonagh!
[ Bio ]
Michelle McDonagh is an Irish journalist with over twenty-five years’ experience, including twelve years as a staff reporter at the Connacht Tribune. She now works freelance, writing features and health pieces for numerous Irish papers, including The Irish Times.
She is married with three children and lives in Cork.
There’s Something I Have to Tell You is her first novel.
Twitter ~ @michellemcd