FeaturedHistorical Fiction

The Sorrowful Girl


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This is a book I could not put down. It's long but so worth the time it takes to read it. Historical fiction is my favorite genre.

This book takes place in towns close to where I live--Adams, Pittsfield, Massachusetts. It mentions Mount Greylock, where the broadcast tower of the radio station for which I've worked for 41 years is located. And it doesn't hurt that my last name was Adams before I was married.

But that's not why I loved this novel.

This is the story of Liam Barrett, whose dream had always been to attend Harvard Law School and become an attorney. However, when his father died, he had to take over the family farm. He is also a police officer in Adams, Massachusetts--a very careful, thoughtful investigator--who looks for actual evidence, even though this takes place in the 1800s, when no DNA or fingerprinting existed for collecting evidence.

A young woman is found dead in the woods of Adams, and Liam has to investigate. The person who finds her is a homeless Irish itinerant who lives in the woods while looking for work. Irish immigrants had a terrible time finding work during this time of "No Irish Need Apply," and these workers were desperate for jobs. George Washington Stanley of the Pittsfield police, who's known for his brutality to prisoners, decides that an Irish immigrant living in the woods must be the perpetrator; Liam says, essentially, not so fast.

The young woman , Deidre Monaghan, worked for a rich Scottish man, six-and-a-half days a week. He uses his wealth and power to cover up things. His mansion and family is the source of much of the intrigue and turmoil in this story.

This novel is fast-paced and interesting, with great character development and believable situations. From Liam's mother, who's sat by a window waiting for years for her dead husband to return home, to his younger brother Kevin, who wants to quit school and go to work in the local mill, from the local priest, Father Frank, who does so much more than his "priestly duties" within the community, to Eileen, the woman whom Liam loved but married someone else, this book explores so many different areas that could happen anywhere. Everywhere Liam turns, he faces another challenge, and he attempts to solve his problems logically and rationally--unlike many of the other law enforcement officials in the book.

I could not put this book down. I read the more-than-500 pages in less than two days, and I had several meetings and other commitments to attend to in between. I applaud this author for a well researched, well thought out book, and I look forward to reading her other works.

Reviewed by

After a 40-year career in public relations/marketing/media relations, I wrote "Empty Seats," a coming-of-age book with baseball as the backdrop. This debut novel is appropriate for all ages and has received excellent reviews. I have since written several short stories and now "A Few Bumps."

A Pretty Girl

About the author

Keenan Powell is the award-nominated author of the Maeve Malloy Legal Thriller series, and the author of the Implied Consent, a #metoo legal thriller, an Ippy gold medal winner. When not writing or practicing law, Keenan can be found studying the Irish language. view profile

Published on September 23, 2023

Published by

80000 words

Genre: Historical Fiction

Reviewed by