The Abbey of Imleach, in south west Ireland, is one of the centres of the Irish faith. When a failed assassination attempt on her brother, the king of Muman, sends Fidelma to the abbey following a lead, she encounters another mystery – the holy relics and the monk in whose care they were have vanished into thin air… well, apart from the bloodstains in his bedroom. All signs point to be the monk being one of the pair of slain assassins, down to the silver cross from the relic collection being found in his hand – except for the fact that he seems to have the wrong hair-cut… As Fidelma investigates a growing number of seemingly disparate incidents, the picture comes together of a conspiracy that threatens the region with all-out war…
The seventh in the Sister Fidelma series of mysteries, set in seventh century Ireland. So far, these well-constructed historical mysteries have really hit the spot for me. So, is this seven out of seven?
This is probably the exact opposite of the recently reviewed Christmas Mourning. The best thing about that one was the title, which is the worst thing about this one. The Monk Who Vanished? Weird title.
Other than that, there’s little to gripe about and much to praise. A well-plotted and constantly moving conspiracy thriller/whodunnit in the rich setting of Ireland in the Dark Ages. Admittedly, the brains behind the conspiracy is probably easier to spot than some of the villains in the series, but the big picture holds a number of surprises. Meanwhile Tremayne chooses to move the relationship forward between Fidelma and Eadulf (although not necessarily in the way I expected) and I’m now very eager to read the next in the series to see where we go next.
If I had to niggle about something, it’s a shame Eadulf seems to have overdosed on the stupid pills again – he had a good section taking the weight of the investigation for a while in the previous book, but he seems to have regressed into Fidelma’s shadow again. There is a good plot reason for this, but it still seemed to be a shame.
So again, as with the rest of the series, highly recommended.
Where to find it:
The paperback is still available from Amazon, so I presume it’s still in print. It’s also available on Kindle without the formatting issues that plagued at least one of the other books in the series – Hemlock at Vespers
This and A PRAYER FOR THE DAMNED are the two Tremaynes I’ve got on my e-shelf and shelf, respectively. While a good review, in your experience does Tremayne spoil previous entries in the series? I generally like to start a series at the beginning but I don’t own the first entry and I’m trying to hold off on any more e-purchases until the 12th.
I don’t think so. There are references to previous books but only in the general sense. There are one or two recurring characters but, unlike the Amerotke books, they are never serious suspects.
Another author I plan to try for the first time in 2013 – the right place to start would be ..?
Probably the first one, Absolution for Murder or the best so far, which is probably Suffer the Children
Thank you very much for the advice chum, much appreciated.
I do plan to read the Sister Fidelma mysteries. That will take me further back in history than I have yet been in historical mysteries. (I have read Mistress of the Art of Death, 12th century, which you did not care for.) I think I will add the paperback for Absolution of Murder to my year end Amazon order.
I saw that you reviewed Absolution of Murder close to your first anniversary of blogging, so you must have past two now. Happy 2nd anniversary of blogging.
Many thanks – the anniversary was a couple of days ago, but there wasn’t time for an anniversary post. Mainly because I hadn’t realised until WordPress notified me late in the evening…
Mistress of the Art of Death probably caught me at the wrong time but the main problem was that after The Death Maze, I was expecting a “proper” mystery, rather than what is a medieval serial killer thriller. If I’d gone into it with empty expectations, I probably would have enjoyed it more. C’est la vie!
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