Smoke In The Wind by Peter Tremayne

Smoke In The WindFollowing the events in the previous book, Our Lady Of Darkness, Sister Fidelma has chosen to accompany Brother Eadulf as he returns to Canterbury from Cashel. A storm soon blows their ship off course and they find themselves in the kingdom of Dyfed in Wales – a land that does not tolerate Saxons, the race that Eadulf belongs to. This is hardly an issue as Fidelma’s reputation precedes her and soon the King of Dyfed has recruited her to investigate how every member of a nearby monastery has vanished into thin air.

They accompany a local judge who has been charged with investigating an apparent open-and-shut case – a local boy is accused of raping and murdering a young girl after an argument. But this case is far more than it first appears – and the disappearance of the monastery personnel seems to be entwined with the death of the girl. But as Fidelma carries little authority in Dyfed and even the local lord seems against her investigations – and the outlaws hiding in the hills and a Saxon war-party aren’t exactly helping matters…

Now is it cheating to count the Sister Fidelma series as one of my Medieval Miscreants series as well as using her for the previous Original Sins series? Well, according to (ahem) Wikipedia, the Middle Ages went from the 5th to the 15th century, so Fidelma (7th century) counts. And I make the rules, so it’s probably impossible to cheat…

Anyway… as the series progresses, there seems to be a standard pattern emerging. Fidelma investigates a crime, and it emerges that something much bigger than expected is taking place – slave trading, local war, etc… Both of the cases interweave, a number of people are guilty of something, a number of complications arise and Fidelma finally pulls things together in full-on classic mystery style by gathering the suspects – usually in a courtroom.

Oh, and the mystery is well-clued, enticing the reader to try and put the pieces together. And it’s an ultimately rewarding endeavour as with so much going on, you’re bound to work out/guess parts of the mystery and yet still be surprised by other parts. It’s like trying to put together two jigsaw puzzles that have been mixed together, which each lead to similar but different pictures. And usually – and certainly in this case – there’s a moment when you realise you missed something that it both shocking and completely obvious – the sign of a great mystery.

Peter Tremayne has written at least one book featuring Sister Fidelma per year since 1994 – to date, I can say hand on heart that I have thoroughly enjoyed each and every one that I have read so far – this is the tenth book in the series and I’m delighted that there are eleven more published novels still to read. The engrossing mysteries, along with the background detail of a time of which I have little knowledge and the ongoing story of Fidelma and Eadulf’s relationship, have kept me coming back for more, and, once again, I recommend that any fan of the classic mystery tries this series out. As for this book, as you might imagine, is highly recommended.


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