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The Eloquence of the Dead    by Conor Brady order for
Eloquence of the Dead
by Conor Brady
Order:  USA  Can
Minotaur, 2016 (2013)
Hardcover, Softcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

The Eloquence of the Dead follows A June of Ordinary Murders as the second in a historical mystery series set in Victorian Ireland and starring Sergeant Joe Swallow of the G-Division (the plainclothes elite) of the Dublin Metropolitan Police.

The story begins in 1887 with the discovery of the murder of eccentric Dublin pawnbroker Ambrose Pollock, who lived on the premises and and operated the business with his younger sister Phoebe. Oddly, it seems that she stayed on after the killing for several days, spending extravagantly on food and alcohol. Now she has gone missing.

The backdrop to the mystery involves the sale of Irish estates by English landowners and the state sponsored purchase of lots by Irish tenants. We see it from the point of view of widowed, childless Lady Margaret Gessel as she moves out of the property that has been in the family for generations - pressed by her cousin Richard, a rising star in the PM's office.

Joe Swallow is an unusual policeman, who takes painting classes in his spare time. As a Roman Catholic, his talent hasn't been rewarded with the promotion that is his due. He shares rooms with his much younger sister Harriet (a passionate nationalist), after parting ways with the lovely widow Maria Walsh, who runs a public house. He loves Maria but isn't ready to commit.

Swallow learns that Phoebe Pollock was spending her evenings with a mysterious companion. A Jewish antiques dealer, a longtime source, alerts him to the sale of antique coins in shops across Dublin - where did the collection come from? And unusual items also come to light in the pawnbroker's shop.

More violence erupts, leading to further clues for Joe Swallow, ones that take him to England and back, as he uncovers an intricate fraud involving people in very high places. Eloquence of the Dead is an intriguing, well researched mystery, knotted into the political events of the time. And readers will feel very much a part of the life and happenings of 1880s Ireland. Strongly recommended!

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