Bloodmoon by Peter Tremayne

Ireland, 671 AD, and once again Sister Fidelma – or just Fidelma really as she has renounced her role as a religeuse – is called upon to undertake a mission for the sake of the Five Kingdoms of Ireland. But what exactly is her mission? Bound to silence by a sacred oath, her colleagues in the hunt for the truth, her husband Eadulf and the warrior Enda, have to trust that she can be released from the oath before the lack of information becomes a risk to their safety.

At the abbey of Finnbarr, the place to where Fidelma is summoned, the abbot is murdered before he can speak to her and the prime suspect disappears into the night. As Eadulf and Enda follow Fidelma in pursuit of the truth, pieces start to fall into place of the big picture. A plan to assassinate the High King himself – a plan hatched by members of Fidelma’s family…

First a word on the cover – the one above is the US release from those nice folks at Severn House, who were nice enough to let me have a review copy. It’s out in the US in October, but with the cover below, it was released in the UK by Headline in May. August isn’t exactly halfway between the two release dates, but it’s not far off…

This is the 29th of the Sister Fidelma mysteries, along with a novella and a couple of books of short stories. I’ve reviewed the first nineteen titles on the blog, so it’s fair to say I’m a big fan of the series. More so than any other historical series, there’s a sense of other-worldliness about the setting, as in a land that itself contains a mixture of religions and cultures, with other contrasting beliefs across the sea both near and far. The plots tend to be a mixture of classic whodunit, conspiracies and thriller-adventures, with each the amount of each aspect varying from book to book.

This book is as full as ever of the historical picture and the characterisation of Fidelma and Eadulf, with previous frictions coming to the surface once again due to the secrecy that she has to adopt due to her oath. I think that it’s only fair to warn new readers that this probably isn’t the title for mystery fans to start the series with, though, as the whodunit element is very slight, with a lot of characters remaining off-page for a significant portion of the book. It also means that following exactly who is related to who and is plotting what against whom can take a little concentration at times.

For fans of the series, it will be another enjoyable read in the series. For the mystery fan, you might want to get to know the characters in a more traditional mystery setting – basically anything from the first fifteen of so titles – first and then come back to this one. Either way, it is Well Worth A Look.

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