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Tremayne, Peter - 'The Dove of Death'
Paperback: 448 pages (Feb. 2010) Publisher: Headline Paperbacks ISBN: 0755357620

The attention to historic accuracy and detail in this book is awesome. Despite being part of a long-established series about a medieval female detective, the characters were introduced and described well enough for it not to be necessary to read the other, earlier, books in order to get a feel for what was going on.

Fidelma: lawyer, nun, sister to a king, is feisty, forthright and won't take no for an answer. Brother Eadulf, her partner and husband, is a constant and long-suffering fellow who is clearly well under the thumb and knows better than to disobey his outspoken wife. She is clearly not suited to the religious life and goes on many voyages searching for truth and justice instead.

In this tale of their adventures, Fidelma and Eadulf are on their way home after a long time overseas. They are sailing upon "The Barnacle Goose" with Bressan, a cousin of Fidelma's, and their ship has a valuable cargo of salt on board, on its way to Fidelma's brother. Suddenly, out of nowhere, the ship is attacked by pirates and Bressan, along with the ship's captain, is savagely murdered. Fearing that they will be next, Fidelma and Eadulf jump overboard and are rescued from the sea by a fellow monk, from a nearby small island, who sees their daring plunge into the water.

What follows is a complicated web of mystery, intrigue and further murders. Fidelma cannot leave until she has justice for her cousin and starts to investigate what is going on. Turned away from the local Benedictine abbey on account of her being female, Fidelma strikes out on her own to solve the mystery and ends up a guest in the castle of the local Lord, whose family may be somehow involved in the attacks. Suspects are aplenty but motives are not that forthcoming. Fidelma has her suspicions and eventually reveals all to a crowded room of witnesses, including the local king and his new wife.

THE DOVE OF DEATH is a very pleasant, "feel good" story, that fans of medieval fiction will just love. A good, quick, light read that is perfect for commuting with and is easy to pick up and put down again without losing track of the plot. I am impressed by the feistiness of Fidelma, even if she does take her husband a bit for granted. Now that I know her thoughts at the end of her current adventures, I am curious to start at the beginning of her stories and get to know her properly.

Amanda C M Gillies, Scotland
April 2010

Details of the author's other books with links to reviews can be found on the Books page.
More European crime fiction reviews can be found on the Reviews page.

last updated 27/03/2011 10:55