Haunted Ground: A Novel by Erin Hart
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This book was hard to get into at first, but I really enjoyed it. The reader is deposited right into the middle of the action and, while it gives a sense of immediacy, it is hard to figure out what it going on. The story is actually two mysteries in one...there is a red haired woman's head which is found deposited in the peat bog and a real woman and her child who have been missing for over two years. The plot is interwoven and switches between forensic and historical research on the bog body and dogged detective work in the contemporary case.
Once I got into the book, I could hardly put it down. In the investigation of the bog body, the archaeologist determine that the woman was beheaded and they find a probable date for the execution from an artifact. What is really intriguing is that they contact an elderly local historian for an understanding of what was going on in that locality at the time and then they turn to an elderly woman who has preserved hundreds of old ballads, many of which were composed about local historical events. When I read this I thought of how many of the old ballads I know of that talk about real events; ballads such as Tom Dooley, Geordie, the Long Black Rifle, The Ballad of Mary Hamilton, and Mattie Groves to name a few. In the book there is a pub where the detective, the archaeologist and others keep alive the old musical instruments and ballads which reminded me of the work of Francis James Child who collected 305 ballads and saved them for posterity.
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