Monday, February 3, 2014

Spotlight/Book Giveaway: Scandal in Skibbereen by Sheila Connolly

About the Book

Genre: Cozy Mystery, #2 in A County Cork Mystery Series
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime Mystery
Release Date: February 2014

Synopsis from Goodreads:

As the new owner of Sullivan’s Pub in County Cork, Ireland, Maura Donovan gets an earful of all the village gossip. But uncovering the truth about some local rumors may close her down for good…

Bostonian Maura is beginning to feel settled in her new Irish home, just in time for summer tourist season to bring fresh business to her pub. But the first traveler to arrive is thirsty for more than just a pint of Guinness. Althea Melville is hot on the trail of a long-lost Van Dyck painting.

Maura agrees to help Althea meet with the residents at the local manor house, the most likely location of the missing art. But when the manor’s gardener is found murdered, Maura wonders what Althea’s real motives are. Now, to solve the secret of the lost portrait and catch a killer, Maura will have to practice her Irish gift of gab and hunt down some local history—before someone else is out of the picture

Author Guest Post

I fell in love with Ireland the second day I was there.

Not the first day. When my husband and I took our daughter to England and Wales, we tacked on Ireland. After all, my father’s parents both came from there, and it was so close, how could we not?

We stepped off a plane and headed for the place my grandmother was born—and of course we got lost. Like most Americans we didn’t realize that driving in Ireland consisted mainly of following winding two-lane roads (on the wrong side) and avoiding the occasional sheep in the road. Signs are few and far between, and if you ask for instructions you’re usually told something like “turn left at the sixth lane, and if you go past the creamery you’ve gone too far.” While we did finally find the tiny townland we were looking for, it was not a promising start.

Then we set off again for the village of Leap, a tiny place in West Cork overlooking Glandore Harbor on the south coast, a few miles from where my father’s father was born. By the time we arrived it was getting dark, and it had started raining—hard. We stopped at the hotel (the only one in town) and all eight of its rooms were booked by fishermen, but they sent us around the corner to a family who had a couple of rooms available. Then we went back to the hotel for dinner, which was everything we’d ever heard about Irish food: grey meat, mashed potatoes and carrots, all swimming in murky liquid. It kept raining.

Tired and damp and discouraged, after dinner we retreated to our room and went to bed. The next morning I was the first to wake up, and I slid out of bed and pulled back the curtains to find a view of sunshine and sparkling water with gliding swans, and cows grazing on the hill, and I almost cried. That’s when I fell in love with Ireland.

And if that wasn’t enough, I discovered that the pub across the street was called Connolly’s. That’s the place that became Sullivan’s pub, the heart of Buried in a Bog.

But it took ten years to get that book published. I hadn’t even started writing when first saw the pub, but the village made a lasting impression on me, and I used the setting for the second book I ever wrote a couple of years later, with the pub at its center (the less said about that first book, the better). That book never sold, but I refused to give up on it: I rewrote it and changed the major characters not once but twice, but never the setting. Third time’s the charm, it seems: Buried in a Bog was published in 2013 and became a best seller.

Why do I write about Ireland? I write cozy mysteries, which is what I’ve always loved to read. Most cozies are set in small towns, but American cozy writers hadn’t really ventured abroad with their stories. But since most of Ireland (with the exception of the biggest cities) is one small town, where everybody knows everyone else, and their entire family history, I thought it was perfect for cozies.
I once told someone that visiting Ireland was putting on an old shoe: it’s like slipping into something that just fits right, like it’s been yours forever and knows your foot. Ireland felt like home, even though I’d never seen it before. And I keep going back.

My main character, Maura Donovan, was born in Boston and raised by her widowed Irish-born grandmother. She has no interest in Ireland, having seen her share of down-and-out immigrants in Boston. But her grandmother insists that Maura visit Ireland, as her last wish, so Maura goes reluctantly, and there she finds a home and relatives she never knew she had and friends—in short, more than she ever expected. In fact, there’s one point in Buried in a Bog when Maura is overwhelmed by events and is reduced to rare tears, and she demands, “why is everybody being so nice to me?” She’s angry and confused, and unable to handle simple kindness and others looking out for her, a near-stranger. But that’s the way it is in Ireland, particularly if you have any Irish in you.

By the second book, Scandal in Skibbereen, Maura has begun to settle in. The book opens with the arrival of pushy New Yorker Althea Melville, who’s searching for a lost painting, and she can’t understand why everybody isn’t jumping to help her, and she thinks she has to deceive them to get what she wants. It falls to Maura to explain that things don’t work like that in Ireland; people are more than willing to help you, but you have to ask, not demand. By the end of the book even Althea has come around to that point of view.

There’s only one problem with writing murder mysteries set in Ireland: few murders take place there (except in Dublin). I met with a sergeant at the local police (garda) station, who told me that they’d had all of three murders in their district in the past decade, and in each of those cases they’d known who did it. I apologized to him for inflating their crime rate, at least on paper.

What I enjoy most about writing this series is exploring the contrast between insider and outsider, the past and the present, the old and the new. You find all of these side by side in Ireland, and sometimes I have to shake myself and wonder, what decade am I in? The townland where my grandmother was born is still using the mail box installed during Queen Victoria’s reign, and the church holiday bazaar is still raffling off a truckload of firewood. Time seems slower there. The nights are darker and quieter. It’s beautiful and peaceful, and, yes, there are plenty of rainbows.

I’m still in love with the place. I hope I can let readers see what I see there.


How would you like to win a paperback copy of Scandal in Skibbereen by Sheila Connolly? Thanks to Berkley, I have one paperback to giveaway to one lucky winner.

Just a few simple rules...

1) You must fill out the form below.

2) US Residents Only

3) For an extra entry: Follow this blog

4) For an extra entry: Follow me on Twitter

5) For an extra entry: Follow me on Goodreads

6) For an extra 2 entries: Post this giveaway on your blog.

7) For an extra 2 entries: Tweet about this giveaway.

8) For an extra 2 entries: Like one of my reviews on Amazon.

9) For an extra 2 entries:  Leave a comment for the author.

The giveaway begins on February 3rd (midnight est) and ends on February 10th (midnight est).

The winner will be notified by email and has 48 hours to respond, otherwise a new winner will be chosen.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Would love to read. Ireland set makes it a plus

  2. I really enjoyed the first book in the series

  3. Looks fantastic, hope I get a chance to read it :)

  4. I would love to visit Ireland. I like the sound of darker and quieter nights.

  5. I enjoyed learning about your writing and the Ireland trip sounds captivating and memorable. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  6. I follow this blog, the author on good reads and like the author on FB as well as liked reviews on Amazon. Sheila I enjoy all your books as you place the reader there through your eyes with such exquisite detail.

  7. Hi Sheila, I received the first book as a gift. My partner and I both loved it. I would do "almost" anything to be the winner of a copy of Scandal in Skibbereen.

  8. I've enjoyed the work of many Irish authors, and am intrigued by the idea of a cozy set in Ireland!

    I will add this terrific giveaway to my blog's sidebar. Thanks for hos
    ting this, Yvonne.

  9. Sounds like a good one and nice guest post. I'd fall in love with Ireland and its beauty too.

  10. I can't wait to read this. it looks like it has everything I love in a cozy

  11. I love cozies--and I want to go to Ireland so badly---so I must read this book.

  12. I love Irish books and what better one then to have a mystery involved.

  13. congrats & continued success, Sheila!!!
    thank you for the giveaway!!!

  14. It sound so good. I love that it is set in Ireland. Thanks for having the giveaway.

  15. I really enjoyed Buried in a Bog and have been waiting patiently for this one to release! Thanks for stopping by and for the chance to win!


Thank you for stopping by and visiting my blog! I always love reading comments and getting to know my readers!

After some careful consideration, I've decided to become an award-free blog. Although I appreciate and am honored by each and every award I've received, your comments and friendship are enough award for me. Thank you all so much for your thoughtfulness.

Due to way too many spam comments, I disabled the Anonymous User comments. We'll see if this works, otherwise I'll have to go back to word verification.