The Mysterious Murder

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Full Title: The Mysterious Murder, or Crohoore of the Bellhook: A Story of Old Ireland

Author: Michael Banim

Published: New York, 1872

Description: This mystery novel, which opens on a brutal triple murder on Christmas Day and the kidnapping of a young woman, was originally published in 1825 in a collection of stories titled Tales of the O’Hare Family. The collection was the collaborative work of brothers Michael and John Banim, who were born in Kilkenny, Ireland. Though John eventually moved to London, the two continued to collaborate on fiction, mailing manuscripts and criticisms back and forth. Though this story was relegated to the realm of dime novels, it was political in nature, as the brother’s intent was “To insinuate though fiction the causes of Irish discontent,” in the words of Michael himself. As a result, The Mysterious Murder is highly provincial: the story’s setting is Kilkenny and it provides several references to Irish custom, religion and folklore. Local landmarks are even incorporated into the plot, such as Dunmore cave, which serves as a meeting place for the main characters.