The Devil's Seal
Minotaur Books, Jul 28 2015, $26.99
In 671 Ireland, religious leaders are irate over the latest Papal decree of Rule of the Blessed Benedict. They come to Cashel to debate over how to implement and more important ignore the dictate by the Council of Autun. One of the attendees Anglo-Saxon Brother Egric survives a shipwreck that killed his three traveling companions. He claims to be Brother Eadulf’s brother who the latter thought died years ago.
Before the divided discussion between the Irish and Anglo-Saxon delegates commences someone slices the throat of Saxon emissary Brother Cerdic; leaving his corpse in a position of prayer. At Cashel, Mumen King Colgu assigns his sister (Eadulf’s wife) Sister Fidelma to investigate in hopes of preventing more homicides from occurring. As she makes her inquiries, additional killings happen including Cill Naile steward Sister Dianaimh.
The silver anniversary Mysteries of Ancient Ireland (see Atonement of Blood) is an enjoyable medieval whodunit. The fascinating focus on the various religious leaders’ reactions to the Papal decree anchors the novel in time and place. Sister Fidelma’s intriguing investigation entertains the faithful, but the climax lacks the vigor of most entries (including this novel) in one of the consistently best historical series.