An Irish historical murder mystery of love, revenge and redemption.
It’s August in the long, hot summer of 1995 and Jo Devereux can’t believe that she still hasn’t returned home to San Francisco.
Instead she remains on in Mucknamore, the small Irish village where she grew up, the home she’d left forever, twenty years before, a place with only bad memories for her.
Jo returned months ago, pregnant and in despair, for her mother’s funeral. Now she’s done her mourning and the time for her to have her baby draws near. So what’s keeping her here in Ireland, in this crumbling shed at the edge of the ocean?
Partly it’s reading and writing about her family experiences in the bitter Irish Civil War, the death of her great uncle, Barney Parle, at the hands of his best friend, Dan O’Donovan.
This close-fought conflict, coming in the wake of the War of Independence and the peace treaty with Britain, had split the country, end to end: friend fighting friend, brother fighting brother — and sister.
Now Jo must decide who led Dan to his grisly death and whether it was a tit-for-tat killing.
Dan O’Donovan died by suffocation in Mucknamore’s notorious sinking sands. Could her beloved, gentle Granny Peg really have been capable of luring him out there, in revenge for the killing of her brother, as the diaries seem to suggest?
Was her grandmother, as Jo would like to believe, innocent of all? Or did she have secrets of her own?
And what role did Norah O’Donovan — Dan’s sister, Barney’s lover, and Peg’s best friend — play in these dramatic events of the past? Why had she lived with the Parle family, her family’s sworn enemies, for as long as Jo can remember?
Combing the words of her ancestors for what has been left unsaid, Jo is unprepared for her own reactions, as she comes to realise the price she, and Ireland, had to pay for freedom.
And how the fallout from the war of independence has passed down through the generations.
Rory, Dan’s great-nephew, and her one great love, draws ever closer and Jo has to admit he may be the reason she can’t tear herself away.
Could her mission to uncover their shared past be the key to a possible future?
Or is she about to lose everything, all over again?
Before the Fall is a sweeping, multigenerational tale set in 1920s and 1990s Ireland and 1980s San Francisco. It is the second book in The Irish Trilogy, and the sequel to After the Rising.
Praise for Orna Ross and The Irish Trilogy
“A highly ambitious, engaging and evocative novel and a hauntingly captivating read.” — Sunday Independent
“The sort of massive book you could happily curl up with for the entire winter, an impressive canvas interweaving a contemporary story of love, emigration and loss with the complex world of civil war politics, emerging women’s rights and buried secrets. It explores the influence of our families on who we later become, in literary, lyrical language, while still being a captivating read.” — Irish Independent
“The writer has taken on a tough job – interweaving past and present and making them strike fire off each other… [and] has made brilliant use of original sources, including local historians in Wexford, adding the icing on the cake.” — Evening Herald
“Epic sweep…ambitious scope… an intelligent book” — Sunday Tribune
“A riveting story…vividly brought to life.” — Emigrant Online
“No history book could reveal with as much compassion the impact of the Irish conflict on successive generations… This expertly crafted novel is an important work in terms of Irish social history, but it will also be enjoyed by anyone who appreciates intelligent and profound family sagas that make the reader count his own blessings.” — Historical Novel Society