A Prayer for the Damned
St. Martin’s, Nov 2007, $24.95
In 668 AD in the Five Kingdoms (ancient Ireland), Abbot Ultan is acting as the emissary for Bishop Segene, the Abbot of Ard Macha. He travels the country seeking to sell the concept that Segene would be lead abbot. Both men adhere to the strict laws of a sub-group of Rome State who believe the church holy cannot marry; they each believes it is their calling from God to do whatever it takes to insure others follow their religion as well including bribes, coercion and force.
Ultan and his retinue head to Cashel in the Kingdom of Muman where King Colgu’s sibling Sister Fidelma is about to take the vows to make her marriage of a year and a day to Brother Eadulf permanent. The abbot arrives to voice his strong objection to two church officials marrying. Before he can make his displeasure known, someone murders Ultan. The wedding ceremony is postponed while the bride and groom investigate the homicide in which one f the kings of the Five Kingdoms is the prime suspect.
Readers who love Middle Ages whodunits will want to read A PRAYER FOR THE DAMNED (as well the previous Sister Fidelma tale) as this series is one of the best being written today. The freshness in Sister Fidelma’s latest inquiry is her doubts as to whether she should be releases from her vows as a religeuse. The power struggle between Rome’s edicts and the Irish church leaders are meticulously examined even as this serves as a key element to the exciting descriptive plot. Readers gain plenty of insight into seventh century religious and secular politics in Ireland yet the beauty of Peter Tremayne’s skill is he does this while entertaining his fans.