Domfarcai fidbaidæ fál fomchain lóid luin lúad nad cél.
Huas mo lebrán indlínech fomchain trírech innanén . . .
Fommchain cói menn medair mass himbrot lass de dindgnaib doss
debrath nomchoimmdiu cóima cáinscríbaimm foróda ross.
A hedge of trees surrounds me:
a blackbird’s lay sings to me
praise which I will not hide . . .
Above my manuscript—the lined one—
the trilling of the birds sings to me.
In a gray mantle the cuckoo sings
a beautiful chant to me from the tops of bushes:
may the Lord protect me from Doom!
I write well under the greenwood.
—Verse written in the margin by an Irish scribe who copied Priscian’s Institutiones Grammaticae (a Latin grammar) in the mid-ninth century
The Book of Killowen
After a year away from working in the field, archaeologist Cormac Maguire and pathologist Nora Gavin are back in the bogs, investigating a ninth-century body found buried in the trunk of a car. They discover that the ancient corpse is not alone—pinned beneath it is the body of Benedict Kavanagh, missing for mere months and familiar to television viewers as a philosopher who enjoyed destroying his opponents in debate. Both men were viciously murdered, but centuries apart—so how did they end up buried together in the bog?
While on the case, Cormac and Nora lodge at Killowen, a nearby artists’ colony, organic farm, and sanctuary for eccentric souls. Digging deeper into the older crime, they become entangled in high-stakes intrigue encompassing Kavanagh’s death while surrounded by suspects in his ghastly murder. It seems that everyone at Killowen has some secret to protect. Set in modern-day Ireland, The Book of Killowen reveals a new twist on the power of language—and on the eternal mysteries of good and evil.
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Book Cover Image (jpg): The Book of Killowen
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Reading Group Guide
What could possibly explain two dead bodies in the buried trunk of a car—murdered hundreds of years apart? Could the two crimes have anything to do with each other? This is the mystery that brings archaeologist Cormac Maguire and pathologist Nora Gavin back to the bogs of beautiful Tipperary in central Ireland. At Killowen, a local artist retreat where Cormac and Nora are staying, secrets simmer below the surface and it seems everyone’s a suspect. As the evidence unfolds, mysteries of the past become present again, and questions begin to swirl around medieval manuscripts and ancient philosophies of good and evil. Cormac and Nora work with the local detectives in a race to figure out how the past informs the present, and whose secret was worth killing to protect.
Topics & Questions for Discussion
1. The prologue reveals to us what happened to the bog man all those centuries ago, providing information to readers that the modern-day characters are still in search of. How do you think the experience of reading the story would see more