Ireland, AD 669, one year after the events of A Prayer For The Damned. Sechnussach, the High King of Ireland is sleeping in his chambers when Dubh Duin, the chieftain of the clan Cinél Cairpre walks in and cuts the King’s throat. As the guards arrive, Dubh Duin kills himself, rather than surrender. It seems an open and shut case but there is no way he could have gained access to the bed chamber by himself. He has co-conspirators and they are still at large.
Sister Fidelma is summoned by the Chief Brehorn of Ireland to find the truth. Civil war is on the horizon and unless the conspirators are unmasked, blood will be shed. But it seems that more than politics may be driving events. The followers of the old religion are determined to bring it back, no matter how many people have to die?
Book Sixteen of the Sister Fidelma series (not counting the two short story collections) and once again I’m faced with the same problem when reviewing a series. It’s more of the same but that’s not a bad thing in any way.
To recap what you get from Peter Tremayne – a complex (but followable) plot, a convincing historical background (this one is based on a true story by the way) and clues laid down for the reader to come to the same conclusions as Fidelma does as she gathers the suspects together for the big reveal at the end. And as often the case with the Fidelma mysteries, virtually everyone has something to hide, so working out who’s done what is part of the fun.
It’s another strong entry in the series – it had a little dip a few books ago, but seems to be back to the usual high standards. If I had to quibble, some of the clues are a bit straightforward. There are two “You’ve got a green hat on. I’m sure I saw someone else wearing a green hat earlier” types of clue but because the equivalent thing to the “green hat” in these cases is very distinctive, the reader spots it straight away, making Fidelma and Eadulf seem a bit dim when they can’t remember where they’ve heard about the “green hat” before. Having said that, there’s still at least one real surprise at the end. Two, if you don’t read the foreword, but having said that, surely someone would have considered it…
But that’s just a niggle. This is a good entry in a strong series of historical mysteries. Highly Recommended.