Spotlight: Death on Clare Island by Martha Geaney
Star O’Brien is a haunting voice for the dead, the missing, and the lost.
Star O'Brien is a successful American information broker who can't solve the mysteries of her own life. She comes to County Mayo, Ireland to settle her dead lover's estate and look for her Irish mother who has been missing since Star was six years old. She is on the scene on Clare Island, when a body is discovered. It seems like a closed case involving the island's dangerous cliffs and drug abuse. Star didn't believe it when the police dismissed her mother's disappearance as "abandonment" and she can't believe the stories she is hearing about the dead young man.
Star must separate truth from fiction in the testimonies of those close to the victim including the head of an anti-drug foundation, a volatile ex-lover, a besotted young art student, and a restorer of the island's ruins. Before long, Star's investigation becomes the catalyst for a second murder, and she must work fast to avoid becoming the third victim. As she uncovers the truth about the murders, this fiercely independent, complex, female protagonist must also own up to her own past and a potential future with a charming new confidant.
Just a fifteen-minute boat ride from Roonagh on the west coast of Ireland, the towering mountain of Clare Island guards the entrance to the mouth of Clew Bay from the Atlantic Ocean. Gráinne Mhaol’s castle sits on the rocky headland at the island’s harbor. Most visitors come to view the scenery and the bottle-nose dolphins swimming in the bay. Others come to explore the archeological history, including the Cistercian Abbey where the 16th-century pirate queen is buried.
Matthew Sumner liked the five-hour walk around the island best of all: the danger of ignoring “Beware of Cliff Edges” signs that warned of falling to the rocky inlet below, the steep climb up Knockmore mountain, the view of Inisturk and Inisbofin islands from the peak, the small lakes, the potato lazybeds, and the Abbey Church. Oh, he would recommend any of the walks around Clare Island if pressed for an opinion. The shorter walks made more sense at the end of a day working in the Abbey ruins. Most of the time he selected the quickest route to the island’s harbor and hotel, where he ate his evening meal, saving the full circuit of the island for weekends. But he wanted the solitude and shadows provided by Knockmore for tonight’s excursion. He required the unobstructed view of the Atlantic Ocean.
As he made his way toward the southern side of the island, he took short strides, conserving his body movements to deflect attention. Zipping up his light jacket, he watched for small boats nearing the island, or for someone approaching him from the harbor. He was ready to slip on his stocking cap, making it difficult at a moment’s notice for anyone to identify him.
Keeping this last point foremost, he felt for the cap in his pocket. Perhaps, he thought, he should put it on now, picturing his bleached blonde shaggy hair acting as a kind of beacon. It had been a cold, dull day, and it looked like a devil of an evening. The menacing dark sky to the east foretold the storm headed for the island. He could see the whitecaps rising angrily out of the sea as they bashed onto the beach. He scanned the bog and the coastline while his fingers continued touching the cap like a monk fingering his beads.
Intuition told him he’d soon find what he sought, so he resolved to brave the wind and impending storm. It was then he spotted a lone figure, head hunched below the shoulders. His first thoughts wavered between fear and hope that tonight’s excursion would prove profitable. The person lifted a hand in salutation. Feeling a little puzzled by this, Matthew wondered why the individual he pursued would be friendly. He looked beyond the anonymous shape to the dark ocean. When he didn’t see a boat, he immediately relaxed, thinking this was an islander out for an evening walk. In the few moments it took for the person to shorten the space between them, he heard his name whispered in the wind.
“Matthew, what are you doing out in this nasty weather?”
The voice, dull and sleepy, floated in the air between them like the hypnotic sounds of the sea. Loose, black clothing draped the person’s frame, making it impossible for Matthew to discern whether it was a man or woman. His steps slowed. For in that moment, straining for a closer look, he understood too late that he had made a grave mistake. His final thoughts were of how much he wanted to live as the water choked off his breath. Then the darkness took him.
About the Author
MARTHA M. GEANEY is the author of the highly praised non-fiction, women’s leadership book, Bring Your Spirit to Work: One Woman at a Time. She is also the author of the Star O’Brien fiction series which is set in the west of Ireland, and the United States. Martha was born in New York City but lived in New Jersey beginning at the age of eight. In 2017, Martha and her partner, Bill, moved to Florida where she enjoys cooking, reading, swimming, and her Schipperke puppy, Turlough.
Before turning to indie writing, Martha was a teacher, management consultant, university professor, and the dean of a business college. It was her leadership experience as a management consultant and her research for her doctorate that prompted Martha to write a self-help book for women who aspire to leadership roles.
Martha’s passion for Ireland began when she made her first trip, at the age of four, to County Mayo, birthplace of her mother, and to County Cork, birthplace of her father. She returned to Ireland again at the age of sixteen to attend a boarding school in Castlebar, County Mayo, for two years. Since then, Martha has visited her cousins and friends in Ireland for more than thirty-five years. It is her love for the people, the country, and all its beauty that inspired her to create a mystery and suspense series, set in Ireland, about an amateur detective, Star O’Brien, who is an American.
She is currently working on her second Star O’Brien novel.
Visit her website: https://martha-geaney.com/