Summer is ending in County Cork, Ireland, and with it the tourist season. Expat Maura Donovan is determined to keep Sullivan’s Pub in the black as the days grow shorter—but how? When she hears that the place was once a hot spot for Irish musicians who’d come play in the back room, she wonders if bringing back live music might be Sullivan’s salvation.

As word gets out, legendary musicians begin to appear at the pub, and the first impromptu jam session brings in scores of music lovers. But things hit a sour note when Maura finds a dead musician in the back room the next morning. With a slew of potential suspects, it’s going to take more than a pint and a good think to force a murderer to face the music.


My Thoughts: In this third County Cork outing, we find Maura Donovan in a contemplative mood, pondering the six months she has run the pub, an unexpected inheritance. An Early Wake offers a glimpse of the bucolic life Maura has come to accept, even though she realizes that, at this point, she doesn’t really have a plan.

She doesn’t have ledgers or a computer, and her take from the pub seems to be all cash. She manages to pay her staff, which consist of Old Jimmy and his daughter Rose…and Bridget Nolan’s grandson Mick. She also manages to keep in the supplies and pay for electricity.

Next door to Maura’s cottage, also a part of her inheritance, lives Bridget Nolan, who offers tea and wisdom each day.

Old Billy, who takes up daily residence in the back corner of the pub, feels like a fixture, but he offers stories, wisdom, and somehow brings the musicians to the pub by word of mouth.

While this story offers little in the way of in-depth information on the villagers or even the regulars who show up at the pub, we still have a sense of the easy-going life of those who have become Maura’s new world. I loved the idyllic feeling, and even when the musicians’ jam fest brought the hint of violence along with the death of the musician, we could also feel secure that the steady law enforcement, embodied by Sean Murphy, could handle whatever came up.

As I settled into the story, I found myself wanting more. Knowing another outing could bring additional layers and more depth to Maura’s life, I felt a surge of hope that she could even find a love interest. 4.5 stars.



    1. Thanks, Elizabeth…I am totally hooked on this cozy mystery series. It makes me feel as though I’m in the Irish countryside, where my eldest son lived for almost a year, photographing pubs and other village scenes.


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