‘The Winter Guest’ -W.C. Ryan

A haunting tale, exploring a post-war Ireland where loyalties are divided and we see the tensions growing between those who make it their home.

Captain Tom Harkin, our main character, is sent to investigate the death of an ex-lover, aristocratic Maud Prendeville and a known rebel sympathiser. Sent under the guise of an insurance investigation, Harkin is an IRA intelligence officer who has been tasked with learning the truth behind Maud’s shooting.

After his service, Harkin is clearly affected by PTSD. He arrives at the Prendeville home and, from the outset, we can see this is a community increasingly divided. Many characters have a secret they want to remain hidden and I found myself regularly having to check just who was loyal to which faction as double-crossing seems to abound.

From a historical perspective, this was a fascinating read.

Touted as a ghost story I found myself occasionally wondering what I was missing. There’s reference to a mysterious White Lady, rumoured to be seen before the death of a Prendeville. Harkin himself believes he is being watched over by the ghost of Maud, but the ghostly element was more subtle than I thought. There are hauntings aplenty, of the psychological variety, and this element of the narrative lent a wonderful air of unease to things.

On so many levels this story had me captivated. I want to know more about this period and these concerns, so would appreciate recommendations/suggestions for further reading. Thank you to the author, publishers and NetGalley for granting me access to this before publication.