Have Books, Will Travel: To The Emerald Isle

With a spring thaw on the horizon and holidays out of the way, it’s time to start holding ourselves accountable for all of those 2020 travel plans we pinned to our vision boards back in January. That’s right, readers. It’s time to pack your suitcases and, with any luck, make it to the airport in time to grab an overpriced coffee and get a head start on a good book. But where to, you ask? Ireland, of course. It is March, after all. In this month’s edition of Have Books, Will Travel, we take you to the Emerald Isle with novels that feature the historic country’s lush setting and plots that are sure to keep your interest until the next pint arrives.

In The Woods by Tana French
The Land of Saints and Scholars has mystical wonders galore…or so we’ve heard. In any case, what better way to enjoy a view of the mist rising from the sea among moss-covered stones than with a cup of Irish breakfast tea and a good mystery?

The first book in her Dublin Murder Squad series, Tana French’s In The Woods focuses on the suspicious murder of a twelve-year-old girl whose body has been found, in the woods, at an archaeological dig site. Sounds pretty cut and dry at first, but these happen to be the same woods where the lead detective on the case was found nearly two decades prior. Yep. The police found him shivering and clawing at a tree with bloody shoes, bruises on his back and absolutely no recollection of how he ended up there. Oh, and the two friends who were originally with him? Missing. Gone. Never to be heard from again. Given that he still can’t recall the events from that tragic night, he takes on the case in hopes that it will jog his memory…without driving him insane.

A Slanting of the Sun by Donal Ryan
Donal Ryan’s poetic writing prevails in this beautiful collection of short stories, which feature the human heart, of all things, as its central theme. He calls upon the reader to weave through stories that deal with the complexities of navigating life’s most delicate circumstances; tragedy, loneliness and displacement are each explored through various, often uncomfortable relationships. For instance, an elderly captive who is forced to grapple with his brother being beaten one room away but is unable to help due to being guarded by the perpetrator’s companion (who is equally uneasy about the situation) or a woman who forms an unlikely kinship with the man who kills her daughter in a car accident. Ryan takes the uncomfortable, the painful, the fathomless and asks us to lean in and feel every bit of it for the sake of emerging as better human beings.

Spill Simmer Falter Wither by Sara Baume
Truth be told, we’re pet people around here. Therefore, we love a good story about a man and his dog. Sara Baume gives us just that in her beautiful debut novel, in which we are introduced to the main character, Ray, through his musings to a one-eyed terrier whom he aptly names One Eye. A disabled loner himself, Ray finds comfort in the marginalization he shares with his canine companion. As the story unfolds, One Eye begins to serve as a catalyst to help Ray get out of the house and explore the idea of community. However, when a grave misunderstanding about the dog’s behavior causes commotion in the community, the two are forced to hit the road. Two outcasts, dismissing fear and taking on the unknown…together.

Christine Falls by Benjamin Black
What do you get when you mix a surly, drunken pathologist with a brother-in-law who meddles with the records of a dead woman’s body at the morgue? A good read, that’s what! Christine Falls follows Quirke (that’s the surly, drunken pathologist) on a thrilling mission to find out how the mysterious woman died, what on Earth his brother-in-law has to do with it and why he’s receiving increasingly violent warnings to drop the case on behalf of the Catholic Church. There should be no doubt whatsoever that he’ll get to the bottom of everything. He’ll just have to sober up first.

And that, dear readers, wraps up our list of books that are sure to keep you entertained while you’re enjoying the evergreen valleys and awe-inspiring ocean views of Ireland. Safe travels and happy reading!