Tremayne’s latest medieval outrage is the murder of an abbess and the disappearance of six women accompanying her on a pilgrimage.
Even before Sister Fidelma, her husband Eadulf and Conrí, a friendly Uí Fidgente warlord, arrive at the abbey of Ard Fhearta, the Venerable Cináed, a well-known scholar, has been found with a crushed skull. Adding this mysterious death to her investigation, Fidelma finds that she faces hostility from the community, many of whom are sympathetic to those fighting to restore a Uí Fidgentedynasty. A short trip aboard a merchant vessel precedes an attack by a warship carrying the flag of the defeated warlord. But Fidelma and company survive to visit the home of a local leader and hear tales of murderous attacks by a mysterious outlaw group reputed to be led by the leper Lord Uaman, a man Eadulf saw perish in quicksand (The Leper’s Bell, 2006). An overland search for the missing woman gives them the clue they need: A dying monk washes ashore and tells them that pirates have taken over his tiny island where the women are being held captive. After rescuing the sisters, they return to Ard Fhearta, where Fidelma gathers up all the loose strings of her investigation and brings the case to a stunning conclusion.
For once, melodrama is piled as high as historical minutiae. Even non-medievalists may be tempted.