Sister Fidelma, an Irish nun, travels with a party of coreligionists to Whitby Abbey. There, a Synod is to be held presided over by Oswy, Saxon King oSister Fidelma, an Irish nun, travels with a party of coreligionists to Whitby Abbey. There, a Synod is to be held presided over by Oswy, Saxon King of Northumbria. At stake is which set of rites, Celtic or Roman, the kingdom will follow. At issue is the form of clerical tonsure and the dating of Easter. When the Abbess Étaín, the leading speaker for the Celtic faction, is murdered Fidelma must investigate the crime.
An advocate in the Irish Brehon Court, she is well suited for her task. But Oswy, known to favour the Celts, must be impartial. She must work with Brother Eadulf, a Saxon from the Roman faction. As their investigations proceed and as the Synod continues, more murders threaten to plunge Northumbria into civil war.
There is much to like about this first work in the series. The clash of Irish and Saxon cultures maintain a dynamic tension through the work and while Fidelma is a more rounded character Eadulf is certainly not two dimensional.
Peter Tremayne (the pen name of Peter Beresford Ellis) is a Celtic scholar, and it shows in the detail that he brings to the work. Unfortunately, at times, it reads like an anti-Roman polemic. But, though it's in the third person, the novel is clearly told from Fidelma's point of view. Also, as her working relationship with Eadulf strengthens, Fidelma comes to appreciate (though still not necessarily agree with) the perspective that he brings.
I found the clues a little telegraphed, having guessed the guilty party less than half way through the book. However, the political intrigues stop it from being too predictable. If you like this period of history then this should be a series worthy of your consideration.
The Limpopo Academy of Private Detection continues the exploits of Mmas Ramotswe and Makutsi, punctuated by tea-drinking and cake-munching. This time,The Limpopo Academy of Private Detection continues the exploits of Mmas Ramotswe and Makutsi, punctuated by tea-drinking and cake-munching. This time, Grace Makutsi and new husband Phuti Radiphuti arrange to have a new house built, but the builder seems too slick to be trusted.
Meanwhile, trouble looms at the orphanage. Mma Potokwane, opposing a move catering into a large and impersonal dining hall, is unseated by the new head of the board who proposed it. Finally, into Gaborone comes Clovis Andersen, whose Principles of Private Detection has been their constant source of mentorship. He too carries a secret.
Like the denizens of Tlokweng Road, the Number One Ladies' Detective Agency is drifting into quiet domesticity. We have gotten use to Grace Makutsi's talking shoes, the frequent breaks for tea and cake, and Mr. J. L. B. Matekoni's old fashioned common sense.
But there's also something to be said for comfortable familiarity. For fans of the series, it's the literary equivalent of a nice fire, dressing gown and slippers, and a nice cup of hot chocolate. ...more
It is the spring of 1543. Henry VI seeks Catherine Parr as his sixth wife. Matthew Shardlake is promoted to Serjeant at the Court of Requests thanks tIt is the spring of 1543. Henry VI seeks Catherine Parr as his sixth wife. Matthew Shardlake is promoted to Serjeant at the Court of Requests thanks to Archbishop Cranmer. Cranmer and the reformist faction at court meanwhile follow Henry's pursuit of Catherine with interest as she is known to have reformist sympathies. Radical lay preachers prophecy the coming of the Apocalypse, and Bishop Bonnor in London seeks to rid England of them with a new round of heresy trials.
A serial killer's victims are murdered to fulfil the vision of Revelation 16, in which angels pour onto earth the seven vials of God's wrath. Each killing is more gruesome than the last. Meanwhile, a young man incarcerated in the Bedlam Asylum will be burned as a heretic unless Shardlake can uncover what has unhinged his mind.
This is the darkest of the Shardlake novels so far. As fear casts its shadow across England, so too shadows fall across friendships. Matthew and Guy, Barak and Tamasin are estranged as trust fails and tragedy strikes. But author C. J. Sansom is increasingly comfortable in his chosen milieu. In general, he conveys the flavour of Tudor England without resorting to anachronism. Occasionally a piece of dialogue feels out of place, such as Matthew's 'Back to square one' when his investigation runs up a blind alley. The notion of a serial killer in Tudor England may sound unconvincing but the unfolding sequence is handled skilfully.
The plot perhaps rambles along rather too much for some tastes, but for me it it's an important part of the immersion. It's a mild antidote to the prevailing gloom that stops Revelation from becoming a piece of Tudor noir. It's perfect reading wither you're on the train to work or curled up on a comfy couch with a fine wine. I'm looking forward to Heartstone very much indeed. ...more
Hindsight is the debut novel for Adelaide writer Melanie Casey. Cassie Lehman comes from a long line of women with a psychic gift, which differs for eHindsight is the debut novel for Adelaide writer Melanie Casey. Cassie Lehman comes from a long line of women with a psychic gift, which differs for each of the recipients. Cass sees and experiences the final moments of those who have died violently. She sees and feels the full force of their pain and terror through their eyes. It’s a gift that has led her to live the life of a recluse with her mother and grandmother.
Detective Ed Dyson has never gotten over the disappearance of his wife and unborn child. He’s stayed more or less on track with the help of Phil, his partner, and together they have tried to piece together what happened to her in their off-duty hours. A killing witnessed in the alley of a country town brings Cass and Ed together in an unlikely combination to track down a serial killer.
It’s a pleasure to read a work set in familiar territory (in this case, South Australia’s Fleurieu Peninsula) , and Casey delivers a nicely paced tale that makes the pages turn faster than a pancake on a hot stove. The two main characters are both nicely well penned, though partner Phil once or twice felt a little stock-character-like.
What I really enjoyed was the struggle that Cass had with her gift. Though their gifts differed from hers, it was a struggle Cass has shared with her mother and grandmother. It is perhaps true that anyone who is especially gifted struggles with its use. While Cass very much wants to use her sight to find the killer, the cost for her is high. Like her namesake Cassandra, the Trojan prophetess, her sight manifests like a psychic possession. While seeing her visions, Cass is helpless, and to an observer seems possessed. As the blurb states, this is a “not-so-sexy gift”. It has left her without friends, without romance and with uncertain social skills. A similar “gift” was used in the Star Trek: Voyager episode Ex Post Facto, where the memory of the victim was implanted into the killer. Their sentence – to relive the victim’s final moments every eight hours for the rest of their lives. This is not the stuff of gentle tea-leaves-at the-bottom-of-the-cup.
This was a debut work that was a pleasure to read. The relationship between Ed and Cass was perhaps closer at the end of the story than I thought it might have been, given the baggage both of them carry. However, the frantic climax perhaps burned away some of the layers of the past. The sense of foreboding that pervades Aeschylus’ Agamemnon is nicely acknowledged by quotes from the playwright himself at the beginning of each section. This is an excellent weekend read for the crime fiction buff who likes a subtle dose of psychic with their reading ...more