Erin Hart is a Minnesota theater critic, former communications director of the Minnesota State Arts Board, and a founder of the Twin Cities Irish Music & Dance Association, Erin Hart received an M.A. in English and creative writing from the University of Minnesota and a B.A. in theater from Saint Olaf College. She lives in Minnesota with her husband, Irish button accordion legend Paddy O'Brien, and makes frequent visits to Ireland, carrying out essential research in bogs, cow pastures, castles, and pubs. Visit her website here.
THE BOOK OF KILLOWEN (Nora Gavin/Cormac Maguire novel #4) (2013)
An ancient volume of philosophical heresy provides a motive for murder in this haunting, lyrical novel of forensics, archeology, and history—the fourth in an acclaimed suspense series.
What sort of book is worth a man’s life? After a year away from working in the field, archaeologist Cormac Maguire and pathologist Nora Gavin are back in the bogs, investigating a ninth-century body found buried in the trunk of a car. They discover that the ancient corpse is not alone—pinned beneath it is the body of Benedict Kavanagh, missing for mere months and familiar to television viewers as a philosopher who enjoyed destroying his opponents in debate. Both men were viciously murdered, but centuries apart—so how did they end up buried together in the bog?
While on the case, Cormac and Nora lodge at Killowen, a nearby artists’ colony, organic farm, and sanctuary for eccentric souls. Digging deeper into the older crime, they become entangled in high-stakes intrigue encompassing Kavanagh’s death while surrounded by suspects in his ghastly murder. It seems that everyone at Killowen has some secret to protect.
Set in modern-day Ireland, The Book of Killowen reveals a new twist on the power of language—and on the eternal mysteries of good and evil.
"Combines powerful insights into human nature and pristine prose...offers food for thought that persists beyond the immediate thrill of a well-told tale."—Publishers Weekly, starred review
"Hart's novels always mix historical and contemporary crime, and here she mingles the two with particular skill... a textured, multifaceted plot that holds the reader from beginning to end. And a high energy, exciting finale only adds to the pleasure. Another strong entry in an outstanding series."—Booklist
"Conceives a fascinating situation and lays out its complexities in careful, graceful prose."—New York Journal of Books
"Hart's foray into soggy Killowen has a rock-solid foundation of musical language and deft plotting."—Kirkus
"The novel is rooted in medieval Ireland and rich in the particulars of monastic manuscripts... All of this history serves the novel's carefully measured suspense and adds to the book's splendor."—Minneapolis Star Tribune
Rights: Scribner, North America
FALSE MERMAID (Nora Gavin/Cormac Maguire novel #3) (2010)
American pathologist Nora Gavin fled to Ireland three years ago, hoping that distance from home would bring her peace. Though she threw herself into the study of bog bodies and the mysteries of their circumstances, she was ultimately led back to the one mystery she was unable to solve: the murder of her sister, Tríona. Nora can’t move forward until she goes back—back to her home, to the scene of the crime, to the source of her nightmares and her deepest regrets.
Determined to put her sister’s case to rest and anxious about her eleven-year-old niece, Elizabeth, Nora returns to Saint Paul, Minnesota, to find that her brother-in-law, Peter Hallett, is about to remarry and has plans to leave the country with his new bride. Nora has long suspected Hallett in Tríona’s murder, though there has never been any proof of his involvement, and now she believes that his new wife and Elizabeth may both be in danger. Time is short, and as Nora begins reinvestigating her sister’s death, missed clues and ever-more disturbing details come to light. What is the significance of the "false mermaid" seeds found on Tríona’s body? Why was her behavior so erratic in the days before her murder?
Is there a link between Tríona’s death and that of another young woman?
Nora’s search for answers takes her from the banks of the Mississippi to the cliffs of Ireland, where the eerie story of a fisherman’s wife who vanished more than a century ago offers up uncanny parallels. As painful secrets come to light, Nora is drawn deeper into a past that still threatens to engulf her and must determine how much she is prepared to sacrifice to put one tragedy to rest . . . and to make sure that history doesn’t repeat itself.
"Many readers will find this passionate, complex novel almost impossible to put down."—Publishers Weekly, starred review
"Rich in human drama, complex relationships, and vivid local color. Few writers combine as seamlessly as Hart does the subtlety, lyrical language, and melancholy of literary fiction with the pulse-pounding suspense of the best thrillers."—Booklist, starred review
"Pinpoint plotting and sure sense of place make this tale a winner."—Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"Rich with atmosphere and Irish legend, this exceptionally crafted story of murder, family secrets, and redemption is a welcome addition to Hart's suspenseful series. Nora Gavin is an intelligent and engaging protagonist who leaves the reader anxious for her next adventure."—Library Journal
"A haunting, eerie page-turner..."—Irish America Magazine
"Archaeology is an apt metaphor for how Erin Hart unearths her novels—working down through many layers, finding connections, bringing priceless artifacts and terrible secrets of the past to light. Subtly, lyrically, she uncovers the many hidden layers of this all too human drama."—Open Letters Monthly
"Beautifully written and atmospheric, as well as truly suspenseful."—Denver Post
"The selkie myth serves not only as an elegant plot device, weaving the 19th-century story of the disappearance of a fisherman's wife in County Donegal with the 20th-century murder of Nora's sister, Tríona, in St. Paul, but the myth also becomes a symbol for the besieged selves and complex identities that lie beneath Hart's characters' skins."—Minneapolis Star Tribune
Rights: Scribner, North America; Editions Payot, France; Destino, Spain
LAKE OF SORROWS (Nora Gavin/Cormac Maguire novel #2) (2004)
Barnes & Noble Staff pick for best crime novel in 2004. American pathologist Nora Gavin has come to the Irish midlands to examine a body unearthed at a desolate spot known as the Lake of Sorrows. As with all the artifacts culled from its prehistoric depths, the bog has effectively preserved the dead man’s remains — his multiple wounds suggest he was the victim of an ancient pagan sacrifice known as “triple death.” But signs of a more recent slaying emerge when a second body, bearing a similar wound pattern, is found–this one sporting a wristwatch.
"Hart spins another uncanny tale linking the bizarre bloodletting practices of the ancients with modern acts of violence... More a brooding presence than a dramatic backdrop, the bog is 'a mysterious, holy place, home to spirits and strange mists, a place of transformation and danger' that works a spell on people with a need to connect to their ancestral past. Hart taps into this deep vein of regional superstition, creating characters whose eccentricities have been handed down in their bloodlines."—Marilyn Stasio, New York Times Book Review
"Myriad twists and turns juice the plot and deepen the atmosphere in Hart's moody second offering."—Kirkus Reviews
"Full of riches for readers who savor the multidimensionality of literary fiction." —Booklist
"...an emotionally and intellectually gorgeous descent. Hart's language sings..." —Publishers Weekly
"Hart is at her best binding the lives of her characters to the history and traditions of the Irish midlands... personal detail and local history give Lake of Sorrows a heft and richness uncommon in contemporary suspense novels."—Minneapolis Star Tribune
"Nora Gavin, the complex forensic pathologist last seen in Erin Hart's bestselling novel Haunted Ground, returns in this spellbinding neo-Gothic sequel set in the haunted hinterlands of Ireland. With two winners under her belt, Hart is now teasing us with rumors of a third entry in this highly addictive series. We can't wait!"—Barnes & Noble, Best Mysteries of 2004 Selection
Rights: Scribner, North American; Heyne, Germany; Payot, France; Luitingh Sithof, Holland; Hodder, UK; Destino, Spain; Columna, Catalan; Bra Bocker, Sweden; Eskmo, Russia; Difel, Portugal; Random House/Kodansha, Japan; Random House, audio
HAUNTED GROUND (Nora Gavin/Cormac Maguire novel #1) (2003)
The dazzling, award-winning debut in a series that delivers mystery, romance, suspense, and fascinating forensic detail.
When farmers cutting turf in an Irish peat bog make a grisly discovery—the perfectly preserved head of a young woman with long red hair—Irish archaeologist Cormac Maguire and American pathologist Nora Gavin must use cutting-edge techniques to preserve ancient evidence. Because the bog’s watery, acidic environment prevents decay, it’s difficult to tell how long the red-haired girl has been buried—two years, two centuries, or even much longer.
Who is she? The extraordinary find leads to even more disturbing puzzles. The red-haired girl is not the only enigma in this remote corner of Galway. Two years earlier, Mina Osborne, the wife of a local landowner, went for a walk with her young son and vanished without a trace. Could they, too, be hidden in the bog’s treacherous depths, only to be discovered centuries from now? Or did Hugh Osborne murder his family, as some villagers suspect? Bracklyn House, Osborne’s stately home, holds many secrets, and Nora and Cormac's inquiries threaten to expose them all.
"Hart writes with a lovely eloquence about how character is shaped by the music, the architecture and the history of this harsh and beautiful land..."—Marilyn Stasio, New York Times Book Review
"In addition to a complex, multilayered plot that involves both contemporary and historical crimes, Hart's novel is rich in local color: evenings at the pub, the petty feuds and jealousies of the townspeople and the traditional music and folk culture of Ireland are evocatively rendered." —Publishers Weekly
"Spooky and compelling... does for Galway what Sharyn McCrumb does for Appalachia."—Kirkus Reviews
"Hart breathes life into local history the way Graham Swift did in Waterland; reinvents the DuMaurier formula for Gothic suspense; and brings new texture and psychological acuity to the usual suspects from the generic village mystery. In every way, this is a debut to remember."—Booklist, starred review
"The most auspicious mystery debut of the year, with a unique feeling for place and a depth of forensic details that chill."—Book-of-the-Month Club
"The setting, the humanity of the characters, and the sympathetic portrayal of Irish history, landscape and music all come together in a well-written mystery."—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
"A chilling murder mystery that spans centuries... Masterfully weav[es] Irish folklore and traditional music into an eerie plot... Immensely enjoyable... a talented newcomer." —Minneapolis Star Tribune
"Remarkably assured and highly readable... Absorbing."—Denver Post
Rights: Scribner, North America; Heyne, Germany; Payot/Rivages, France; Hodder, UK; Luitingh Sitjhof, Holland; Destino, Spain; Columna, Catalan; Russia; Random House/Kodansha, Japan; Dom Quixote, Portugal; Gyldendal Norsk, Norway; Bra Bocker, Sweden; Rizzoli, Italy; Random House, audio; Bookspan, Bookclub