An Irish country doctor hires a ghost from her own past for a Victorian Christmas murder case

The final volume of Patrick Taylor’s “Irish Country Doctor” series has arrived in bookstore. “The Christmastime Detective” (University of Maine Press, $18.95) is the first of the series to follow the series character Nic Conner, a Boston-based pediatrician who specializes in children with special medical issues or illnesses.

In this short but richly detailed story, Taylor introduces the character of Nic’s father, a reclusive nature writer and inventor who lives in Shoshone, Idaho. Taylor is obsessed with area-made science fiction, a literary pursuit that Taylor delves into throughout the book, including an introduction to early early 20th-century Irish literature, Charles Dickens and Edgar Allan Poe.

Over a year, Nic Conner investigates an obituary at an Irish funeral home in Shoshone, but the case comes to a head when she discovers that a ghost has been haunting the family home in Boise. In the holiday-themed story, Nic sets out to solve a homicide but finds that her own ghosts become the focus of the investigation. In addition to the blend of murder mystery and folklore, the setting of the story involves ghosts, angels and the even the White Witch of the North.

“It’s all about answering questions about my own family,” Taylor told Washington City Paper. “My father raised me in Shoshone [Idaho] and still lives there. I have a weird relationship with my family there. … Although it’s a pretty remote town, they still have their traditions. In my childhood I used to go up to my grandparents and they would use a lantern on the roof and on their front porch and I used to light it. So when I started this book, I wanted to answer the question about what it’s like to be a boy in Shoshone.”

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