Tuesday, February 20, 2007

A Prayer for the Damned by Peter Tremayne

The latest in the Fidelma of Cashel series and therefore may contain spoilers if you have not read any of the previous books yet.

Fidelma and Eadulf have finally lived together for a year and a day as man and wife and have chosen to finally wed. Distinguished guests from all over Ireland including the High King himself descend upon Cashel to celebrate the marriage. There are also those who seek to disrupt the marriage as they believe that the religious should not marry. When one of these dissenters is found dead in his room Fidelma and Eadulf are once again drawn into the search for a murderer. Although the case at first seems an open and shut affair with the main suspect having been seen leaving the room of the deceased around the time of his death, Fidelma is not so sure. But as more people die and deep rooted hatreds are uncovered there definitely is more to this than meets the eye.

Peter Tremayne rarely lets me down. The world of Fidelma and Eadulf is full of colour and depth. For those who have religiously read the previous installments much of the background, the setting and the characters are already known to you. Even so Tremayne does not allow his characters to remain constant. In particular in this book we see Eadulf's increasing discomfort at the differences in rank between him and Fidelma, while Fidelma questions her faith and chosen path in life. Perhaps Tremayne is setting us up for a brand new direction. Whatever his reasons its refreshing to see his characters are real people who evolve with each new experience. It is also refreshing that they are so human, how many grooms get a touch of the 'cold feet' after all!

I can't be completely praiseworthy of this book. There were times when the pace seemed to flag and rather than entertaining twists and turns you felt as if you were wading through mud. Some readers may find the Irish law system difficult to understand and stomach and we are left to question which is better, the Irish tradition of Christianity or the Roman tradition (which of course is the one that eventually triumphed). Although it is perfectly easy to read the book without getting bogged down in the detail it does at least offer the reader the chance to appreciate the story at a different level.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and think it perfect for anyone interested in 7th century Ireland, or historical murder mysteries.

**4 stars**

1 comment:

Peter said...

I've just found my way to Sister Fidelma, starting with the first in the series, Absolution by Murder. Tremayne seems to managing quite well to keep a story going while providing rich historical detail. I'm pleased so far.
Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"