I initially reviewed Declan’s Cross last September as part of Carla Neggers’ blog tour to promote its release. I have spent the last few weeks catching on the Sharpe & Donovan series, which started with Saint’s Gate, followed by Heron’s Cove, and Declan’s Cross.
Last year I had a family emergency that didn’t allow me to concentrate as well as I should have, and I think I did a disservice to the author by stating that the mystery was less important than the love interactions. I re-read this book again for several reasons: 1) to read the series in order to understand the characters better; 2) to be sure I hadn’t missed anything the first time around.
I think that in the Sharpe & Donovan series the mystery is a strong component, almost breathing element in the plots, and they have to be, considering Emma and Colin make their living as FBI agents. I still think that Emma and Colin should be flesh-out more because they are the protagonists. I like Father Bracken better, though I have learned to appreciate the interactions among the Donovan brothers, and all the characters that are fillers in a way—or important to a novel but don’t reappear in another.
Leave it to Carla Neggers to describe the setting of her novels in such detail that always make me want to plan for a trip there. In Declan's Cross the setting is Ireland, which kept reminding me of the novel The Princes of Ireland by Edward Rutherford that I started reading years ago and put aside for shorter readings. Despite being a very long novel, The Princes...is about the history of Ireland from pre-Christianity to modern days. I guess I needed to be in the mood to tackle it and Carla Neggers has set the stage perfectly.
Even though the novels can be read as stand-alone, I think it’s crucial to read them in order to understand the characters and their development in the series. I feel they have grown on me after these few weeks.
In summary, since folklore and background mysteries are very well developed, Carla Neggers should focus on strengthening the characters further to make it a superb series. As it is, the Sharpe & Donovan series is already very good.