HARBOR ISLAND: Carla Neggers
The setting takes place in Ireland and in Boston. The characters intertwined as author Carla Neggers creates a plot so beautifully and masterfully created that readers immediately become entangled, immersed and enveloped not only in the story, the characters but the locations. Ten years ago an art thief surfaced in Declan’s Cross. The elusive art thief has taunted the Sharpe family for over ten years and renowned art detective, Wendell Sharpe, wants his identity uncovered more than anyone else. When FBI agent Emma Sharpe receives an odd and anonymous phone call to come to Bristol Point, what she encounters starts a chain of events that will take readers, Emma, FBI agent Colin Donovan from Boston, Rocky Point, to Ireland and Declan’s Cross to catch an art thief and a killer. But, Emma’s meeting with this informant turns tragic as Rachel Bristol’s body is the first thing she sees upon arrival.
Colin Donavan belongs to the High Impact Unit, which is part of the FBI and work Matt Yankowski. Heading for the cottage at Bristol Point and finding a woman’s hand, cold and the body unresponsive sets in motion a chain of events that would bring this unit into action, cause Emma to come under scrutiny and a ten year old art theft in the forefront. In the hand of the victim is a stone: Saint Declan’s Stone. Saint Declan is a healer and the stone reminds Emma of the art theft that keeps her uncle the well know art detective on the case. The setting is an isolated or remote island off of Boston Harbor: Harbor Island: Carla Neggers.
Sometimes killers and thieves leave clues within a crime scene whether to aid or taunt those investigating or to hint of the past. A stone engraved with a Celtic inscription bears the signature of an international art thief whom Emma and her family of renowned art detectives have been after for ten years without success. Rachel Bristol, ex wife of Travis Bristol is the victim who was there on assignment. Working on a movie along with Travis’s daughter Maisie, Bristol they hoped to create a film based on the art thefts but her research and what she discovered about the thief and someone close to her might have gotten her killed. As the author enlightens readers about Travis’s relationship with Rachel and his daughter we also meet Danny, Maisie’s bodyguard who presents his own perspective on the case and allows readers to enjoy the love/ hate relationship between him and Maisie. Both Travis and Maisie are quite powerful in the movie world as producers but one is in financial trouble and the other just might take a bold leap in order to rectify his/her troubles but the art thefts create a problem in relation to the movie. Enter Oliver Fairbairn, mythologist, researcher and Maisie’s consultant. Someone has sent a definite message to Colin, Emma, Wendell and the rest of the Sharpes. Each one received a replica of the cross after every new theft. The thief of someone else is taunting them and daring them to uncover this ten -year old crime. Fairbairn consults on research and matters focusing on Celtic mythology and presents a rather secretive and elusive figure. So, how did Rachel come by this stone and why was it in her hand?
As the FBI and the Bristol Police Department and the Irish Guardia work together our favorite priest, Finian Bracken comes into play. Now living in Rocky Point Maine and taking over a parish from another priest, Father Bracken, having lost his wife and family ten years before, has ties to the village where the thief struck.
Aoife O’Byrne’s studio is the scene of the crime where Yank and Colin find an unexpected surprise. Trying to piece together what happened at the studio, what was taken and the robbery, they find a person under a bookcase. Little did Yank know that his wife, Lucy came to Ireland to surprise him and the rest is quite interesting as the reason unfolds, her injuries dealt with and what caused her to be under the bookcase revealed. Was she the intended victim? Who threw over the bookcase? What was the reason for the theft? As we get to understand more about Aoife and her relationship with our priest. Some relationships are forbidden and others take place and need to be placed back in the recess of someone’s mind. But, the tension between Finian and Aoife is thick, their feelings revealed but in the end what will happen?
As Colin and Yank discuss who might have broken into Aoife’s studio and why Rachel visited both Lucas Sharpe and Emma’s former convent, the Sisters of the Joyful Heart, they discuss the possible reasons, the Bristol family, their relationship and where to go next in the investigation. But, in Chapter 16 author Carla Neggers enlightens readers about the relationship between Finian and Aoife, their past and a weekend to remember.
As Yank relates that Fairburn went to his office to inquire about medieval Irish Celtic crosses, not interested in the 19th century Celtic Revival crosses and asked if Yank could point him a direction of crosses that did not fit as he states: the unusual suspects. A computer print out linking someone to the heist and possibly might be the art thief and taped to the outside of a computer. No note, nothing. But, some sharp police work and some deductive reasoning and something is learned about Oliver’s past, his childhood trauma leading Emma and Colin in search of our mythologist. But Why? “Myths, legends, fairy tales and folklore are filled with stories of children and young people surviving against deprivation, loss and evil. Just what was Oliver hiding? What they learn when they find him will surprise readers as this creates quite a unique twist.
As Emma recaps the events and relates what happened at Aoife’s studio she also recounts the errors that the thief made and realized who sent the crosses to her grandfather, her brother, Agent Yankowski, Aoife and her. But, can she prove it and will any charges be filed? What was the final clue that gave this person away and as she relates more about Saint Declan, the stories told, the theft at John O’Byrne’s house, the unsigned landscape stolen that same night, an earlier work of Aoife’s and her Yeat’s phase which included a local scene of beautiful Celtic crosses.
But, how this all intertwines and how author Carla Neggers takes a new canvas and paints a picture of not only the art thief but Rachel, Maisie and the killer you just won’t believe whose face will be in the center of it all. Who killed Rachel and why? What about the movie that Maisie wants to produce? Deceits, lies, betrayals, fear, failures, hate, greed, control and power are just some of the reasons for murder in Harbor Island! Who’s guilty? Who gets caught? The answers to these questions and the unraveling of an art thief just might come to light as you the reader will be privy it only be reading this five star novel. The vivid descriptions of Boston Harbor Island Recreational Area make you wish you were there. Too bad Declan’s Cross-is a fictional place. This is Carla at her best.
Fran Lewis: Reviewer