The Winter Guest by W.C. Ryan

Today Mandie is taking over the blog to share her thoughts on The Winter Guest, the brand new novel from W.C. Ryan. The author will be appearing at First Monday Crime next week, 7th February, alongside authors Jane Casey (The Killing Kind), Liz Nugent (Our Little Cruelties) and Sam Blake (Remember My Name) and you can catch all the action over on the First Monday Crime Facebook Page. Thanks to publisher Zaffre for the advance copy of The Winter Guest for review. Here’s what it’s all about:

Source: Netgalley
Release Date: 06 january 2022
Publisher: Zaffre

About the Book

A gripping, unsettling mystery with a classic feel for fans of Agatha Christie.

The drive leads past the gate house and through the trees towards the big house, visible through the winter-bared branches. Its windows stare down at Harkin and the sea beyond . . .

January 1921. Though the Great War is over, in Ireland a new, civil war is raging. The once-grand Kilcolgan House, a crumbling bastion shrouded in sea-mist, lies half empty and filled with ghosts – both real and imagined – the Prendevilles, the noble family within, co-existing only as the balance of their secrets is kept.

Then, when an IRA ambush goes terribly wrong, Maud Prendeville, eldest daughter of Lord Kilcolgan, is killed, leaving the family reeling. Yet the IRA column insist they left her alive, that someone else must have been responsible for her terrible fate. Captain Tom Harkin, an IRA intelligence officer and Maud’s former fiancé, is sent to investigate, becoming an unwelcome guest in this strange, gloomy household.

Working undercover, Harkin must delve into the house’s secrets – and discover where, in this fractured, embattled town, each family member’s allegiances truly lie. But Harkin too is haunted by the ghosts of the past and by his terrible experiences on the battlefields. Can he find out the truth about Maud’s death before the past – and his strange, unnerving surroundings – overwhelm him?

A haunting, atmospheric mystery set against the raw Irish landscape in a country divided, The Winter Guest is the perfect chilling read.

Mandie’s Thoughts

With the gothic book House of Ghosts being one of my favourite reads in 2019 I have been looking forward to getting my hands on The Winter Guest. Set in Ireland in 1921 after the Great War, Tom Harkin is sent to Kilcolgan House to investigate the murder of his former fiancé Maud Prendeville. Using his cover as an employee of the insurance company that holds the life insurance policy on Maud he has to confront both his past and the problems that are all to prevalent between the IRA and the Auxiliaries.

Tom Harkin is a character that is literally haunted by ghosts from his past. Clearly suffering from events during the war he has moments where he kind of blacks out and sees people that he knows are no longer alive. He is not really well received by the people of the area who are dealing with troubles of their own and resent an outsider digging into what they believe was a case of wrong place, wrong time and that Maud was a victim of an ambush that did not quite go to plan. With the family themselves hiding secrets and Major Abercrombie both a suspect and the leader of the Auxiliaries determined to get rid of him one way or another even Harkin has to wonder if it is all worth it and should he just go along with the official line. It is only when other people with connections with the family and the ambush are killed that he hardens his resolve to get to the bottom of it no matter what the cost to himself.

This book is so much more than a ghostly murder mystery. The setting of post war Ireland highlights the issues that faced so many as they fought once again for what they believed in, using whatever means possible. Even within the Prendeville family you could sense the divided loyalties and saw how people ended up manipulated into actions that could have devastating consequences. The dual worlds they lived in meant that they would always face uncertainty and trusted no one with their secrets. As Harkins investigations came to their conclusion and the reason behind Maud’s death were revealed I was left with a feeling of sadness that so many people had to pay for others acts of selfishness and self-preservation.

Being a lover of history, I found it fascinating being given an insight to a time and situation I really had no clue about and how it affected those who lived it every day. The Winter Guest ticked all the boxes for me with the perfect blend of fiction and history that had me wondering right to the end.

About the Author

W. C. Ryan is also known as William Ryan, author of The Constant Soldier and the Korolev series of historical crime novels. His books have been shortlisted for numerous awards, including the CWA’s Steel, Historical and New Blood Daggers, the Irish Fiction Award and the Theakston’s Crime Novel of the Year, as well as being published in 18 countries. William lives in London and teaches creative writing at City University.

About Jane Casey

Jane Casey has written ten crime novels for adults and three for teenagers. A former editor, she is married to a criminal barrister who ensures her writing is realistic and as accurate as possible.

This authenticity has made her novels international bestsellers and critical successes. The Maeve Kerrigan series has been nominated for many awards: in 2015 Jane won the Mary Higgins Clark Award for The Stranger You Know and Irish Crime Novel of the Year for After the Fire. In 2019, Cruel Acts was chosen as Irish Crime Novel of the Year at the Irish Book Awards. It was a Sunday Times bestseller.

Born in Dublin, Jane now lives in southwest London with her husband and two children.

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The people he hurt. The way he lied about it so easily. The way she defended him.

Now he’s back.
He says a murderer is after her. He says only he can protect her.

Would you trust him?
The clock is ticking for Ingrid to decide. Because the killer is ready to strike…

About Liz Nugent

Before becoming a full-time writer, Liz Nugent worked in Irish film, theatre and television. Her three novels – Unravelling OliverLying in Wait and Skin Deep have each been Number One bestsellers in Ireland and she has won four Irish Book Awards (two for Skin Deep). She lives in Dublin with her husband.

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They each betray each other, over and over, until one of them is dead.

But which brother killed him?

About Sam Blake

Sam Blake has been writing fiction since her husband set sail across the Atlantic for eight weeks and she had an idea for a book. Her debut novel, Little Bones, was No 1 in Ireland for four weeks, and was nominated for Irish Crime Novel of the Year. It launched the bestselling Cat Connolly trilogy. Her first standalone psychological thriller, Keep Your Eyes On Me, went straight to No 1 and its follow-up, The Dark Room was an Eason Ireland No 1 for three weeks.

Sam is originally from St. Albans in Hertfordshire but has lived at the foot of the Wicklow mountains for more years than she lived in the UK. She has two teenagers, three cats and lives in a 200-year-old cottage with an occasional poltergeist who moves things at the most inconvenient moments.

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And Cressida and her teenage daughter could soon be collateral damage, if she and Brioni don’t act fast.