Are you a fan of mysteries? If so, you won’t want to miss Kilmoon, the new mystery novel from up-and-coming author Lisa Alber. She spoke with us about writing her new book and why you’ll want to be sure to pick up a copy.

An Irish Mystery

Thanks to her book’s Irish setting, Alber enthuses, “The novel research was fabulous!” The concept for the story first began to materialize on her initial trip to Ireland, where she discovered an intriguing place called The Matchmaker Bar. On another visit, when she met the matchmaker himself, the ideas really began to flow.

A matchmaking festival in an Irish village sounds like a happy occasion, but in the novel, American Merrit Chase finds more than she bargained for when she visits the festival to meet her father, the famous matchmaker. Unfortunately, the festival becomes the setting for violence and murder, and somehow, Merrit’s arrival and her father’s past are all tied up in the horror. Readers will be drawn into this complex and intriguing mystery.

“Writing mysteries is challenging,” says Alber. “[They] require what I think of as honest subterfuge. You don’t want to give away the ‘whodunnit’ or ‘whydunnit,’ but you do want to play fair with the reader, which means hiding clues in plain sight. You’ve got to insert red herrings, too.”

Right or Wrong?

Kilmoon is a dark-ish story, full of moral ambiguities,” advises Alber. The main character, Merrit, has had a difficult past, and she hopes that her trip to Ireland will bring healing. However, although she does find some of what she’s looking for, the experience isn’t nearly as smooth as she might have hoped. As Alber puts it, “Life is complex, and relationships are complex. We may get what we want, but it may not look like how we expected it to look.”

Additionally, she describes her characters as being in “grey areas” when it comes to right-versus-wrong. “The so-called bad guys might be sympathetic, for example, while my so-called heroes might act in unlikeable ways at times.” As for Merrit, Alber explains that she’s not a bad person, but “she’s a person with flaws.”

Tips for Discussion Groups

We remember King David of Israel as a king who followed God’s ways, but he confessed, “My sin is ever before me” (Psalm 51:3). Can you, with the Bible’s David and Kilmoon‘s Merrit, identify with the feeling of not getting it right all the time? Probably so, and that topic would be a good one to explore with a book club.

Here are Alber’s suggestions for other themes that groups might want to discuss after reading this book:

  • Love: How was love portrayed in this book? Does that match up with your experiences? Is a happy matchmaking setting appropriate for this story in which love is not always an easy thing?
  • Faith: One character has lost his faith in both God and in his father. “What is faith in everyday life, whether you practice a religion, or not?” asks Alber.
  • Marriage: Alber says, “My detective has marital problems because of a previous tragedy. How can tragedy affect marriages?”
  • Justice: Did you expect the book to wrap up the way it did? Was justice served in the end?

More from Lisa Alber

If Kilmoon hooks you, you’ll surely be looking forward to reading more from this author. However, Kilmoon is Alber’s first novel, at least her first published novel. She admits, “I have a practice novel that will never see the light of day.”

Nonetheless, she does have other published work out there. Her story “Paddy O’Grady’s Thigh” appears in Two of the Deadliest, a collection of short mysteries.

Furthermore, Kilmoon is not a stand-alone novel, but is the first in the County Clare Mystery series. The next installment will feature detective Danny Ahern from Kilmoon. Alber shares, “I don’t have a pub date yet, but look for Grey Man (probably with a new-and-improved title) sometime in 2015.”

For now, you’ll find Kilmoon, which was released by Muskrat Press in March 2014, at book retailers everywhere. After reading it, come back and share your thoughts on this Irish mystery with us.

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