Council of the Cursed
Minotaur, Nov 3 2009, $24.99
In 670 AD, Bishop Leodegar of Autun calls for a council to discuss different positions taken by the various Christian churches. For instance his community enforces a celibacy direction, which has led to outraged monks having to send their upset wives and children to reside at Domus Femini under the control of vicious martinet Abbess Autofleda. The Celtic Church sends Fidelma of Cashel and her husband Brother Eadulf to France as their representatives.
The night that the Celtic delegation arrives, someone bashes in the head of Hibernian Abbot Dabhoc; also with him are two unconscious clerics, who upon being revived insist they know nothing. Fidelma’s instigative fame has crossed the Channel and she has the support of the papal delegation so an unhappy Leodegar agrees to this woman making inquiries. As she uncovers clues, Fidelma finds several possible suspects that run the gamut of the church as each had motive and opportunity but also believes something more powerful is the actual motive; while her host demands she finish yesterday; proclaiming women should not be delegates or sleuths.
With obvious timeliness in terms of the issue of celibacy and a woman’s role in the church both wrapped inside a powerful complex whodunit, the COUNCIL OF THE CURSED is a terrific Dark Ages mystery. Fidelma is at her best as she rejects pressure brought by either a killer wanting to remain concealed or by her being a female. The story line is fast-paced as Peter Tremayne moves his champion from Ancient Ireland to France in a fabulous entry.