B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree

Award-winning Historical Fiction Books


A Clara Swift Tale


Website(s) Website 
Genres Historical Fiction, Mystery
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Canada’s greatest murder mystery—who assassinated poet-politician & Father of Confederation T. D’Arcy McGee in April 1868—is reimagined through the eyes of Irish housemaid Clara Swift.
This bright, spirited girl uses wit & intuition to step beyond the horror of her hero’s bloody end, four other deaths linked to his shooting, the targeting of her religious & ethnic minority group, & the hanging of an innocent rebel—until she truly understands the cost of crossing a new country’s threshold.
Clara is on the other side of the door when McGee is shot in the back of the head on the doorstep of his Ottawa boarding house. Thrust into the thick of the investigation & trial, and the only one able to read the dead man’s coded notes, Clara is suspicious of the motives of Prime Minister John A. Macdonald in avenging McGee’s murder. And where is one-time Irish rebel McGee’s missing manuscript, which the dead man described as a hot political memoir?
This crisis tests the nascent country & strips Clara of her job, her home, her friends and her trust that the truth will out. When she does discover the murderer’s motives, she comes to question the harsh justice that places a nation’s needs above a man’s rights & reputation—even when the cost could be peoples’ lives.
Critics call CELTIC KNOT a thrilling, gripping tale spun with brio: “This is a lively and fascinating story, well told,” says PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
“Shortell conjures a memorable heroine in Clara … she’s uncannily sharp and literarily astute but endearingly guileless …” says KIRKUS REVIEWS. “The author “skillfully builds a suspenseful mystery…the novel’s strongest selling point is its artful amalgam of historical scholarship & fictional drama—Shortell brings her meticulous research to vivid life.”
A five-star FOREWORD/CLARION Review says “CELTIC KNOT is unusual and engrossing historical fiction… Clara is a fascinating character… with her own flair & determination … Polished prose captures the tones & styles of the late 1800s perfectly.”
Praising “…a bright, engaging character” & “a lively mixture of historical fact & literary drama,” the HISTORICAL NOVEL SOCIETY calls it “…elegantly written.” The book’s 18 award honors include plaudits for historical, literary, multicultural, mystery, & crossover YA fiction.
With its winsome heroine, dramatic plot, & a style that envelops the reader in another time, it’s truly a coming-of-age story for the ages—& it all begins with a shot in the dark.

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