Bel of the Brawl by Maggie McConnon

Bel of the Brawl Blog Tour

Setting:  Foster’s Landing, a small river town


  • Belfast (Bel) McGrath, only daughter, sister to four, professional chef
  • Kevin Hanson, Bel’s ex-boyfriend, police detective
  • Cargan, Arney, Derry, and Feeney, Bel’s brothers

Plot:  It’s been years since Bel’s best friend disappeared. Bel, Amy, Kevin, and others were having a party on Eden Island. Bel can’t quite remember what happened, but she woke up alone on the island and, after wading to shore, found that her brothers and boyfriend had been searching for both her and Amy all through the night. They only found Bel. The memory has left a haunting imprint – in both Bel’s memory, and that of the town, it seems.

Bel’s working as a chef at Shamrock Manor, her family’s wedding hall, doing her best to focus on food and the future. When the groom at the wedding being held at the Manor reveals that he’s a Private Investigator, Bel wonders if she might finally be to find out what happened to Amy. It’s a short-lived hope; Bel finds the groom just as he takes his last breath, meaning another mystery at Shamrock Manor. In the midst of her haunting memories and the groom’s mysterious death, is the fact that some of Amy’s belongings have surfaced from the river bottom and one of the Manor’s servers has disappeared, leaving everyone short-handed and curious as to where she might have gone – and if leaving was her choice or not.

All of these elements mingle together like a finely tested recipe, resulting in a story mystery readers will savor.

Pacing:  Good

Predictability:  Low; there’s so much going on with the various plot points, that the author leaves you no room to ruminate over a suspect before directing your attention to another detail.

Wild Card:  While I have not read the first book in this series, I don’t feel like I missed anything; the author does a good job of recapping. At the same time, I now want to go back to read the first, because I enjoyed this one so much! I especially enjoy the relationship that Cargan and Bel have . . . and I’ve got my suspicious eye on you, Brendan.

Hit, Miss, or Draw?  Hit

bel-of-the-brawl-coverAbout the book
When Belfast McGrath was in high school, her best friend went missing after a party on the river. The investigation was long and intense, but Amy Mitchell was never found.

Now, many years later, after a scandalous mistake ended her career as a New York City chef, Bel is working as a caterer at her parents’ wedding hall back in her hometown. But Bel’s new life is turned upside down when some of Amy’s belongings surface in the river, and the investigation into her disappearance is reopened. Bel knows just who to ask for help finding Amy after all this time—the groom in the wedding she’s currently planning is a private detective. But when he mysteriously dies at his own wedding, Bel realizes that if she’s ever going to find the truth, she’ll have to do it herself.

author-photo-maggie-barbieri_credit-to-jim-barbieri-and-julia-boltinAbout the author
MAGGIE MCCONNON grew up in New York immersed in Irish culture and tradition. A former Irish stepdancer, she was surrounded by a family of Irish musicians who still play at family gatherings. She credits her Irish grandparents with providing the stories of their homeland and their extended families as the basis for the stories she tells in her Belfast McGrath novels. Maggie McConnon is a pseudonym for Maggie Barbieri, who is the author of ten other mystery and suspense novels including The Murder 101 series and Once Upon a Lie, Lies That Bind, and Lie in Plain Sight.

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