In the mood for a leisurely cruise? Don’t book your passage on the Barnacle Goose, the tragic ship in Peter Tremayne’s “The Dove of Death.” When overtaken by pirates in 670 A.D., the ship is taken captive, along with the people on board, with the exception of those killed and the two who escape—Sister Fidelma and her companion, Brother Eadulf. Saved by a local monk, they find themselves stranded in a small Breton fishing village.
Eadulf is relieved to have been rescued, while Fidelma, a king’s sister and a legal advisor, thirsts for justice for the dead. Aided by their rescuer, Brother Metellus, they start the dangerous and arduous search for the pirate ship in the countless coves surrounding the island.
As a latecomer to Tremayne’s ancient Ireland series, I still managed to enjoy the book overall. Tremayne seems to find the word “said” to be a four-letter word to be used sparingly. Instead he often has characters smiling or shrugging their dialogue, a contrivance I found annoying. There were also too many characters whose names began with the letter “B,” making the story confusing at times.
Those quibbles aside, I enjoyed learning about the lifestyles and the weaponry of the time, as well as striving to figure out who was the mysterious pirate leader. I recommend Tremayne for those who like their mystery travels in olden times, rather than set in the faster-paced Internet world.
Reviewed by Kari Wainwright for Suspense Magazine