Murder, mayhem and religious dissent plague Ireland in 670 CE.
Sister Fidelma, advocate of the law and sister to the King of Muman, finds herself at odds with her life partner, Brother Eadulf. She plans to leave the religious life in order to pursue her ambitions while he prefers the security of the religious life. Their disagreement, however, soon becomes moot. The pair is forced back together when their considerable sleuthing skills are called upon to solve the locked-room murder of Brother Donnchad, who’s recently returned to the Abbey of Lios Mór after a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Fidelma and Eadulf observe that the Abbey is in turmoil over more than the murder. Iarnla, the Abbot, seems to allow Lugna, his steward, to make all the important decisions. Lugna, trained in Rome, is a fiery proponent of many new rules that the Irish dislike. Meanwhile, Lady Eithne, the murdered man’s mother, is financing a huge building project. Missing manuscripts that question the faith seem to be at the heart of the murder. But all these problems must be set aside when another murder occurs and two neighboring tribes are at loggerheads. Fidelma will ask many questions and visit a neighboring Abbey before she can unmask the killer.
Like all Fidelma’s cases (The Dove of Death, 2010, etc.), this one is literate, historically detailed and demanding of concentration by any readers hoping to absorb the finer points of ancient Irish law.