I decided Lark needed a vacation, so I sent her to Ireland with her father. It's where I'd go, given the choice, and I once drove my father and mother around Leinster and Meath.

Lark's dad, a retired history professor from an old Quaker family, is renting a cottage in Wicklow while he researches his family's Irish roots. Because he recently had a heart attack, Lark feels he shouldn't be alone and certainly shouldn't drive on the wrong side of the road. Her mother is teaching a poetry workshop, so Lark leaves her bookstore in the hands of her clerk--and leaves her husband grading exams. She flies to Dublin.

Professor Dailey's cottage sits on an estate with a fake gothic castle, headquarters of an American company that produces highbrow CDs. Barbara and Alex Stein, partners in the company, were his students at one time. The corpse Lark finds in the potting shed while she is still deep in jet lag is the company's third partner, Slade Wheeler. The unlovable Slade was a war-gamer and had apparently been paint-balling in the woods of Stanyon Castle when he met his demise. The death might be natural, but the body is laid out with suspicious neatness, despite the blob of red paint in the center of the forehead.

At one point, the Irish Republic was the world's second-largest producer of software. Many high tech companies have opened plants on the Ould Sod, because the workforce is energetic, well-educated, and English-speaking, and because the Republic is a full member of the European Union. Nevertheless, the culture-shock works both ways. I find that fascinating, but, heck, I just like Ireland. I also like the music, so it was great fun picking out epigrams for each chapter from Irish ballads, raunchy pub songs, and the poetry of William Butler Yeats.

The Dailey/Dodge marriage is in trouble in Malarkey, but when Lark comes under suspicion, Jay drops everything and flies to her side. That annoys her. Does he think she can't cope with a little adversity? Unfortunately, Jay and Prof. Dailey have bonded over fly fishing, so Lark broods alone. Will the marriage survive? Will they produce a baby at long last? "Isn't it grand, boys, to be bloody well dead?"

"A pleasantly spooky atmosphere. . . " PW

"A deceptively stately pace, accompanied by interesting subplots and vivid jaunts in the country." LJ