The Bride Collector by Siobhán MacDonald is published with Constable (Little Brown UK) and is described as ‘a compulsive serial killer thriller’. Set in a small town in Co. Kerry, a woman’s body is discovered dressed in her wedding dress laid out on her bed. Her name is Isolde Hanley. She did not die a natural death.
‘It was done. She was centre stage and she was beautiful.’
The town of Kylebeggan reels with shock as Isolde Hanley was a very well respected member of the community and events like this do not happen in Kylebeggan. But things take a turn for the worse when, soon after, the body of another woman, Imelda Gannon, is discovered in her bed, laid out in a similar fashion. She was a local primary school teacher, a bride-to-be, excited with the prospect of her upcoming nuptials to local publican and rugby star, Harry Kirby. The town mayor and the Gardaí are determined to keep the details as low key as possible. Kylebeggan is a tourist town with a reputation to withhold, named ‘a jewel in the Garden Trails of Ireland’, with a race course, a number of luxury hotels and top championship golf courses. A popular stop on the renowned Ring of Kerry, rumours of a murderer on the rampage is something the economy of this small town could not entertain. But the women of Kylebeggan are afraid. Two bodies, both discovered in their bridal attire, sends chills down the spine of every would-be bride.
Ellie is a local taxi driver with her own intriguing story to tell. She doesn’t have the regular appearance of a taxi driver with designer labels her go-to wardrobe. She has a store of expensive ware in a spare bedroom which is incongruous with her rented accommodation where she lives a very solitary and private existence. Ellie is on-call one evening when she picks up a fare of three women out celebrating a hen-night, the bride-to-be among them. Her name is Marina Willoughby and she is a local solicitor about to embark on her married life. Ellie drops Marina home, only to discover the following day that Marina was another victim of the murderer now being called ‘The Bride Collector’, discovered laid out in her bridal attire, dead. Ellie is shocked. She was one of the last to see Marina. She does her duty, reporting to the local Garda station but she is left with an unsatisfactory feeling. Something feels off.
Ellie is an amateur sleuth in her down time, always looking one step ahead trying to figure out cases and, immediately, she senses that something is wrong. When she is approached by a local reporter, Cormac Scully, they come to an agreement to trade information. Her job places her in a position where she overhears private conversations and Cormac has a source within the force. Together they start to investigate the case outside of the Garda investigation with some very shocking discoveries.
The Bride Collector is a very entertaining return to the old fashioned idea of the amateur detective solving the case Miss Marple style. With great characterisation throughout Siobhán MacDonald creates a very vivid picture of all the individuals involved while slowly drip feeding us snippets from Ellie’s background. We begin to gather up the jigsaw pieces and create a full picture of the goings on in Kylebeggan. I am very familiar with Kerry so I did have a town in mind when reading The Bride Collector and I can easily imagine how the economy of a local community could be destroyed as the media speculate and fill their column inches. Siobhán MacDonald accurately depicts the ways of a small country town community bringing a very authentic and relatable layer to her writing.
An engrossing read with some very unexpected twists, The Bride Collector is a highly enjoyable addition to the brilliant array of incredible Irish crime writing and is currently available in all good bookshops now!
(c) Swirl and Thread
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