By Peter Tremayne
Headline - 2001
ISBN 0747271216 0 - Hardcover
Mystery / Historical - 7th century, Dyfed, Wales

Reviewed by: Rachel A Hyde, MyShelf.Com
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Peter Tremayne's Sister Fidelma stories have attracted a large following with their feisty protagonist, easy-to-read style and evocation of 7th century Ireland. This is the tenth in the series and opens with Fidelma and Brother Eadulf, shipwrecked on the coast of Dyfed in Wales. They enjoy the hospitality of local King Gwlyddien who is keen to get Fidelma to solve a mystery, for in true Marie Celeste style, the entire monastic order at nearby Llanpadern (where the king's eldest son is a member) has vanished into thin air. But Fidelma is even more interested in the rape and murder of a local girl, supposedly by an itinerant shepherd lad whom the locals are intent on lynching. Can the two crimes be connected, and who is this outlaw everybody seems so afraid of?

As usual Tremayne spins a highly entertaining tale that is by turns baffling, thrilling and informative. To its detriment, Tremayne's depiction of this period is always rather on the rosy side, although now we are not on Fidelma's home soil the tone of this novel is perhaps slightly more robust. The lengthy introduction makes for fascinating reading and is of vital importance to understanding the story. I was also glad to see that this time a guide to the pronunciation of the Irish words was included. This might sound as though the tale has a foot in the schoolroom but Tremayne has the right light touch with the facts and would deliver a superb lecture, I am sure. A book to curl up with and sink into - exciting, enlightening and replete with interesting characters not least, the grumbling Eadulf and the cool, business-like Fidelma.

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