Sarah Stewart Taylor (A Distant Grave) melds Irish history and contemporary concerns with a subplot about immigrant issues in The Drowning Sea, her third terrific novel featuring former Long Island homicide detective Maggie d'Arcy. The Drowning Sea finds Maggie contemplating a move to Dublin, Ireland, to join her boyfriend, Conor Kearney, which will uproot her 17-year-old daughter, Lilly. As a kind of test run, they spend the summer with Conor and his teenage son, Adrien, on Ross Head, a remote West Cork peninsula.
The quiet community is undergoing a resurgence as developers build mini-mansions and Rosscliffe House, a crumbling Anglo-Irish manor house, is converted into a luxury hotel. The community is polarized: just as many residents support the development as oppose the renovation. Newly discovered human remains are identified as construction worker Lukas Adamik, who disappeared a few months before. It had been assumed that Lukas, who was one of the Polish immigrants working in the area, had returned to his native country. Another death increases the residents' anxiety and xenophobia. Although she is no longer a police detective, Maggie begins a clandestine investigation, reaching out to Irish police colleagues.
Taylor creates a full portrait of the appealing Maggie and her family, reveling in her characters' intelligence and emotional landscapes, while balancing domestic scenes with a police investigation. By exploring the Irish community and its history as related to Rosscliffe House, Taylor gives readers a vivid, enthralling look at Ireland. These are characters that readers will want to revisit. --Oline H. Cogdill, freelance reviewer