Kilmoon by Lisa Alber

Kilmoon, A County Clare Mystery - Lisa Alber

It’s June 28, 2008 and the setting is Northern California where we are introduced to Merrit McCallum who is staring at the empty syringe lying beside her on the rug.  Beside her is dead body of the man she called father.  Her mother committed suicide years before.  Merrit is feeling guilty, lost and possibly irredeemable.


With her mother’s journal in hand, Merrit travels from California to Lisfenora, a small town in Ireland.  She arrives during the annual matchmaker’s festival that the small town is so well-known for.  Merrit has big plans to meet her real father, Liam Donellan who is known as Liam the Lion, The Matchmaker of Lisfenora. 


Upon arrival, Merrit bides her time while trying to figure out how to introduce herself to her father.  She reads snippets from her mother’s journal hoping to unravel the secrets of the past.   As the matchmaking festivities get underway, Merrit braces herself to meet her father.  But things quickly go awry.  Merrit is being blackmailed by Lonnie, and when Lonnie turns up dead, all signs point to her as the murderer.  Her troubled past is catching up to her and she has learned that she’s not the only one who claims to be Liam’s long-lost biological daughter.  Merrit finds herself caught up in a web of deceit and mystery as she struggles to uncover the truth behind what kind of man her father really is. 


Kilmoon is a tale of murder, lost love and people yearning to feel like they belong somewhere in a world where life has taken a lot of unexpected turns.  I can’t say I was completely hooked.  It was a fair read but Merrit is just not a very likeable character and I don’t think that the book ever really answered the matter of whether she murdered the man who raised her.  The uncertainty of this creates a main character that is a bit shady and it’s difficult to feel sympathy for her plight.  The town drunk, Marcus, whom Merrit has befriended is a more sympathetic character.  I also didn’t find Liam to be the charismatic character that he was cracked up to be.  Apparently he lost a lot of his charm through the years.  The most interesting character to me is Danny, the town Garda officer, who has been assigned to work the murder, but also has strong loyalties to Liam.   Pay attention to this character, he is the real star.


I also generally love any books set in Ireland.  Something about the atmosphere touches my soul, and I usually settle in comfortably, feeling at home.  However, the atmosphere here lacked depth and didn’t give me that cozy feeling.


I read this book because I got the ARC of the second book in the series, Whispers in the Mist, from Netgalley.  Having already moved on and read the second book (review to come), I can tell you that the series is worth sticking with.  I liked the second book so much better.  Kilmoon is a quick read and worth reading for the introduction to the A County Clare Mystery series.  The characters and atmosphere of Lisfenora become much stronger as the series expands.