"Murder at an Irish Castle" By Ellie Brannigan: Review/Giveaway

Review by Kathleen Costa

Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of the book and a link to purchase it.

Rayne McGrath said goodbye to her twenties, and despite a major headache from the celebration, she’s confident the next decade will be filled with success, love, and lots of wedding gowns. Her Modern Lace Bridal Boutique has the opportunity for banking execs to inject some exciting capital into the business undoubtedly rocketing Modern Lace and Rayne’s designs into national department stores. Landon Short, her partner and boyfriend over the past year, assisted with his marketing expertise, and now major success is on the horizon. Rayne’s mother Lauren McGrath, star of the long-running television show Family Forever, is very proud of her daughter, but there is one sad thought; her father Conor died when she was twelve years old, and missing him greatly, she struggles to answer one compelling question: would he be proud of her, her determination and success, and ultimately the woman she’s become?

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Rayne arrived at the shop for a final meeting with Landon before they have lunch with the money guys. But, the shop’s front door is jammed, Landon is late, and she worries he might have had another roadway mishap. She decides to go to Landon’s bungalow  to check that he’s alright, but … no car  … no belongings … no Landon anywhere! Fearing the worst, Rayne checks their joint business bank account, … no funds, either! Happy birthday, Rayne Claire McGrath!

Image Source Crooked Lane Books
Murder at an Irish Castle Earns 5/5 Furry Buddies…Engaging & Clever Gem!

Worst birthday ever! And to compound the horrors of her thirtieth birthday, her mother reveals her father’s older brother, Uncle Nevin, died in a tragic tractor accident. The lawyer, Owen Hughes, stressed how important it is for Rayne to be present at the reading of the will, but with her local mess, no funds, wedding gowns stolen, and clients wanting their dresses, how can she travel to Ireland? How could she not?

Arriving in Dublin after a long, long flight, a kind stranger and a rum & coke easing her apprehension, she’s met by Ciara Smith, a prickly young woman who tells Rayne their first stop has to be with the solicitor in Grathton, the small village where her father’s childhood home is located. She remembers some of the manor from her visits with her father years ago, and for an eleven year old, McGrath Castle was a monstrous place, grounds as big as any park, and from her father’s stories, very magical, but now, it’s hers … all hers …  a personal dilemma the codicil of ownership makes worse. Rayne has twenty-four hours to accept or decline her inheritance. The illegitimate daughter of her Uncle Nevin, and her previously unknown cousin, Ciara, is understandably unhappy with her limited mention in the will, but the conundrum is real. Accept and leave behind her business, her life, her passion? Decline and destroy people’s livelihoods, destroy a village, destroy a family’s three-century legacy? And what would happen to Blarney, the Irish Setter puppy, that’s taken a shine to her and her to him? But, the greater question, and one Rayne finds compelling: was her uncle’s death really suspicious?

Emerald Isle Gem! Ellie Brannigan has penned a delightful cozy mystery starring a young woman who learns she’s stronger and more capable to survive hardships than she thought. Rayne is confronted with an engaging dilemma about family, obligation, and consequences of one’s actions, and ultimately her decision could create irreparable harm. Of course, with her cousin taking every opportunity to criticize, condemn, and express contempt, the drama has a compelling dynamic to follow. The question about whether or not the uncle was murdered and suspicions about alibis of some close to the uncle ramp up the complexity of the story. The fraud and theft situation with Landon is peripheral, and yet important, it’s outside the case at hand. The details, though, provide insights into Rayne’s common ground she finds with others, explains her cautious attitude with a “single” heartthrob, and adds one more layer to her personality. Of course, the build up and the final arrest was truly a shocking surprise!

Ellie Brannigan’s writing style used a traditional cozy formula, but the investigation plays out differently. Rayne does not forsake her responsibilities to her friends and family, her business, or the mandates set out in the will to go off and investigate her uncle’s death. She, often not alone, goes about her daily work stumbling on clues or curious pieces of evidence that she then shares with the local garda; not to say she doesn’t take the opportunity to snoop, interrogate, and run afoul of the police. It is engaging as she finds ways to fulfill her business contracts and employ help from those near her along with learning the inner workings, profitability, and viable income streams for the manor and those who rely on it. Romance? There’s a hint, if Amos Lowell, the epitome of a Viking hero, is any indication. My one complaint, well, not really a complaint, more like a “who wouldn’t” observation, is … who wouldn’t relish wanting to be called “milady” or “Lady McGrath”? I sure would! Isn’t it every girl’s dream to be the Lady of the Manor wielding control over upstairs/downstairs? I know it’s mine.


Be a Big Fan of Ellie Brannigan (aka Traci Hall)!

Traci Hall is just now getting used to her new literary persona, Ellie Brannigan, so be sure to check out Traci Hall. Traci has written several series, including my favorite, A Scottish Shire Mystery series, with the newest and fourth book, Murderat a Scottish Wedding, having released this past January. Her skill and popularity with this series can only bolster the success of this new series, An Irish Castle Mystery. I’m on board!

Facebook: Traci Hall

To enter to win a copy of Murder at an Irish Castle, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line "irish,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen February 18, 2023. US residents only and you must be 18 or older to enter. If entering via email please include your mailing address in case you win. If entering via comment please include your email address so we can contact you. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section in Kings River Life and in our mystery category here on KRL News & Reviews. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. And check out our new mystery podcast which features mystery short stories and first chapters read by local actors! A new episode went up this week.

You can use this link to purchase the book or click here. If you have adblocker on you may not be able to see the Amazon link:

Kathleen Costa is a long-time resident of the Central Valley, and although born in Idaho, she considers herself a “California Girl.” Graduating from CSU-Sacramento, she is a 35+ year veteran teacher having taught in grades 1-8 in schools from Sacramento to Los Angeles to Stockton to Lodi. Currently Kathleen is enjoying her retirement revitalizing hobbies along with exploring writing, reading for pleasure, and spending 24/7 with her husband.
Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.


  1. I am without words at this wonderful review--thank you so much!!! Ellie aka Traci :) ps--going to print it out and keep it in the Irish Castle file on my desk.

  2. Love Ireland. Go Rayne.
    thanks. txmlhl(at)yahoo(dot)com

  3. This looks like a really good book! I'm currently reading Murder at a Scottish Wedding, this is the first book that I've read by this author and I am enjoying it.

  4. I would love to read Murder at an Irish Castle. I love settings in Ireland!

    allibrary (at) aol (dot) com

  5. Sounds like a really fun story!

  6. Oy! Such troubles! It will be fascinating to read Rayne's solutions to terribleness!

  7. Would really like to read. Love the cover!

  8. I love cozies set in Ireland (and Scotland!). aprilbluetx at yahoo dot com

  9. Ireland is definitely on my list of places I want to visit someday. For now it's fun to read about.

  10. I love books set in Ireland and this sounds amazing. Thanks for the chance. sue.stoner72@yahoo.com

  11. Looks and sounds interesting and fun to read. Thank you for the chance Donakutska7@gmail.com

  12. Thanks for the opportunity! tWarner419@aol.com

  13. Looks like a fun cozy! I would love a chance to win! claire.denning.11@gmail.com

  14. We have a winner
    Lorie Ham


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