The Book of Killowen

The Book of Killowen

“Hart combines powerful insights into human nature and pristine prose with history and archeology in her stellar fourth crime novel” (Publishers Weekly) about an ancient volume of philosophical heresy that provides a motive for murder.

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.
  • Scribner | 
  • 352 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781451634853 | 
  • March 2014
List Price $23.00 (price may vary by retailer)

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Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for The Book of Killowen includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book clubThe suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


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 read see more

More Books from this Author

False Mermaid
Lake of Sorrows
Haunted Ground

About the Author

Erin Hart
photograph by Joyce Ravid

Erin Hart

Erin Hart is a theater critic and former administrator at the Minnesota State Arts Board. A lifelong interest in Irish traditional music led her to cofound Minnesota’s Irish Music and Dance Association. She and her husband, musician Paddy O’Brien, live in St. Paul, Minnesota, and frequently visit Ireland. Erin Hart was nominated for the Agatha and Anthony Awards for her debut novel, Haunted Ground, and won the Friends of American Writers Award in 2004. Visit her website at