Declan’s Cross by Carla Neggers (♦♦♦♦)
Ten years ago on a dark November night, a thief entered a mansion in Declan’s Cross and stole three valuable Irish landscape paintings and a Celtic cross dating back to the fifteenth century. The thief was never caught or the bounty recovered, though the Sharpe family has some evidence that the same thief had been at work in other cities across the globe since that fateful night.
FBI undercover agent Colin Donovan and FBI agent with the art crime division Emma Sharpe are vacationing in Ireland when Colin receives an e-mail from his brother Andy telling him that Julianne Maroney, Andy’s ex-lover, is heading to Declan’s Cross for two weeks in advance of an internship she is starting in Ireland in January.
Julianne has met a rich woman whose family is connected to a well known oceanographic research institute in the States. This woman invites Julianne to Declan’s Cross where she is planning to build a research facility to study marine species. Since Julianne is a marine biologist working towards a master’s degree, she is excited with the prospect of being offered a position there. But things turn unpredictable upon Julianne’s landing in Shannon.
Suddenly Colin and Emma are feeling suspicious of Julianne’s friend’s intentions. Is she who she says she is? And, why did she choose Declan’s Cross, the scene of a cold case investigation?
I had a slow start with this book due to family events that haven’t allowed me to concentrate as well as I would have liked, but as soon as Emma and Colin arrived in Declan’s Cross things started to heat up and the story grabbed me merciless.
Declan’s Cross is part of a series and though there are references to past adventures and misfortunes involving main characters Emma and Colin, this book can very well be a stand-alone novel considering that Carla Neggers describes characters—who are already regulars in the series—and events in their lives as if you were encountering them for the first time. I had only read Saint’s Gate prior to this installment, and had to read my review to remember what happened before, but thanks to the format of the story I had no problem getting re-acquainted with the characters.
I think that Emma and Colin are not as well outlined as characters as Father Bracken is, for example, however, their love encounters are electric. Emma and Colin’s psyches should be explored more deeply considering they are the protagonists in the series; however, I found that in Declan’s Cross as in Saint’s Gate, art depictions—which are lush—and love have more relevance than the mysteries themselves.
In summary, I liked Declan’s Cross, the last installment in the Donovan and Sharpe saga. Neggers is more deft at depicting art than she is at outlining their protagonists personalities and inner worlds, but in contrast Neggers expertly describes Irish art and folklore and makes the reader a willing captive. I plan to read the remaining books to know the characters better.