Peter Tremayne, |
Our Lady of Darkness
(St. Martin's Press, 2000; Signet, 2004)
Brother Cadfael may have some competition in the form of fellow ecclesiastical sleuth, Sister Fidelma of Cashel. The unflappable nun returns for yet another mystery in Our Lady of Darkness, Peter Tremayne's 11th novel featuring the resourceful religieuse.
Drawn away from a pilgrimage to Iberia, Sister Fidelma arrives in the kingdom of Laigin to discover that her dear friend Brother Eadulf faces execution in 24 hours for the brutal rape and murder of a 12-year-old postulant at the local convent. As a dalaigh, an advocate of the ancient Brehon courts, Fidelma is well-educated in legal matters, but she must employ all her devices in the effort to exonerate him. In the process, she discovers the Church is not a beacon of light to everyone in the kingdom.
Tremayne (the pen name of Celtic scholar Peter Berresford Ellis) offers a window into the world of 7th-century Ireland, a haven of scholarly pursuit where women are educated and enjoy gender equality. He is remarkably adept at creating a sense of place in the long-distant past. The intrepid and quick-witted Sister Fidelma makes a compelling heroine, and Tremayne's excellent grasp of Irish history and tightly-woven plot combine for an absorbing read.