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Absolution By Murder [Paperback]

Peter Tremayne
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Jan. 5 1995 A Sister Fidelma Mystery: A Celtic Mystery
As the leading churchmen and women gather at the Synod of Whitby in 664AD to debate the rival merits of the Celtic and Roman Churches, tempers begin to fray. Conspirators plot an assassination, while mysterious, violent death stalks the shadowy cloisters of the Abbey of St Hilda. When the Abbess Etain, a leading speaker for the Celtic Church, is found murdered suspicion inevitably rests on the Roman faction. Attending the Synod is Fidelma, of the community of St Brigid of Kildare. As an advocate of the Brehon Court, she is called on to investigate the murder with Brother Eadulf, of the Roman faction. However, the two are so unlike that their partnership is described as that of a wolf and a fox - but which is which? More gruesome deaths follow and the friction among the clerics could end in civil war. Can the solution to the mysteries avert such a conflict?

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From Publishers Weekly

This immensely appealing launch of a new series is set in seventh-century Ireland, which in Tremayne's rendering is a golden age of enlightenment and of total equality for women. Such narrative stumbling blocks as an abundance of stereotypical characters and much more dynastic trivia, ecclesiastical and secular history than can be absorbed are offset by the vigorous, intriguing puzzle posed by a series of murders and by Sister Fidelma, the tale's brilliant and beguiling heroine. An ecclesiastical conclave to settle major divisions between the Roman and Celtic branch of Christianity is held at Whitby in 664. When a major proponent of the Celtic way, the Abbess of Kildare, is murdered, Sister Fidelma, a fellow Celtic follower and legally trained scholar, is asked to investigate. She is paired with her ideological opposite, Brother Eadulf, on the Roman side, who is shrewd, highly educated and immediately smitten with the outspoken sister. The intellectual and physical sparks that are ignited between these two clerics (in an age before celibacy) light up the pages, and when two monks are killed and the malevolence thickens, the book becomes difficult to put down. It is reassuring to read that Sister Fidelma and Brother Eadulf will reappear... next time in Rome.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Peter Tremayne is the fiction pseudonym of a well-known authority on the ancient Celts, who has utilised his knowledge of the Brehon law system and 7th-Century Irish society to create a new concept in detective fiction.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Mystery steeped in history, theology and culture March 17 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I am fascinated by the history of ancient Ireland, so I eagerly dove into this book. Peter Tremayne does an excellent job of showing how the culture and religion of that tiny island greatly influenced the Angles, Saxons and Picts living in present-day England and Scotland. He also shows how the Church, even in its early history, was a political as well as a spiritual force.
I had read some of the short stories featuring Sister Fidelma before picking up this book. Fidelma can be exasperating; she is haughty, touchy and quick to anger. Her starring role in a novel-length adventure allowed Tremayne to show the reader her more appealing qualities: a zest for life, a sly sense of humor, a deep commitment to her friends and a formidable intellect.
As the plot thickened, it seemed Tremayne might lose control of his large cast of characters, but the mounting excitement left me barely able to put the book down. Tremayne wrapped things up nicely in a scene that cleverly resembles an Agatha-Christie drawing-room denouement. The epilogue hints at more adventures to come for Fidelma and Brother Eadulf.
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Format:Mass Market Paperback
In the first Sister Fidelma mystery, writer Peter Ellis - writing under the pen name of Peter Tremayne - takes us on a fantastic and memorable journey to the time of the rivalries between the ancient Celt and Saxon tribes of England. The mystery is set against the historical background of the debate between the Celtic and Roman Church factions at Whitby back in AD 664. Oswy, the current King of Northumbria, has called this big assembly at Streoneshalh Abbey, a place directed by his cousin, the Abbess Hilda. Important representatives and religieuses from all over Ireland, Britain and Rome are arriving at the Abbey with the purpose of determining once and for all which Church the Kingdom of Northumbria will follow. Sister Fidelma, an advocate of the courts of Ireland, is also in attendance. When she arrives, she meets with her long time friend, Abbess Étain of Kildare. Known for her culture and eloquence, she is to be the opener speaker for the Celtic faction. However, when the debate opens, Abbess Étain's seat is empty. A few moments later, she is found dead in her cubiculum, her throat slashed. It is immediately suspected that the opposition would be the culprit, but is it? And more importantly, how to prove it?
The King of Northumbria, on learning about Fidelma's position as a dálaigh of the Irish Courts, urges her to bring the murderer to justice. Since rumours are already starting to circulate, no time is to be lost. The country is on the brink of Civil War. Fidelma agrees, and in so doing she accepts the condition imposed by the King of having the crime investigated in conjunction with a representative of the Roman faction, a Saxon by the name of Brother Eadulf. Thus forms one of the most famous partnerships in history for the purpose of solving crimes.
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2.0 out of 5 stars A plodding swamp marsh of tedium. Sept. 26 2002
By B. Zorq
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Sorry, but the opening chapters left a bad taste in mouth and perhaps that tainted my feelings against the entire book.
The introduction to the main character, Fidelma, attempts to paint a picture of a self-assured, female esquire/nun prancing merrily through the Middle Ages without equal. She's all that and well proportioned too! Sadly, she comes off as a swaddled, "sister-superior" who should have been killed in the opening chapter. (It would have been a mercy killing on behalf of the reader).
Furthermore, it appears that Peter Tremayne (the author) must be thrilled with his own trite descriptions of the lady lawyer donned in sack cloth. "Rebellious strands of red hair steaked from beneath her headdress..." I know I read that in chapter one and then again a little later in the book word for word. Yawn. And like Elton John's Your Song, we still don't know if Sister Fidelma's eyes are green or blue as they are so changeable with emotion.
As the book rambled along, I must confess that I had repeated urges to break out in a song from Mary Poppins.
"Our daughter's daughters will adore us
And they'll sing in grateful chorus
Well done sister suffragettes!"
Truly, I expect medieval story to be flavored with phrases and words of the era. However, I read to relax and be carried away, not to labor through an encyclopedia written in a quasi-foreign language extolling the virtues ad nauseum of feminism.
Only read this one, if you have exhausted all other options.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Slow Start for Sassy Nun Mystery July 25 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I picked up Absolution by Murder in a used bookstore, thinking it would be a good airplane read. I soon found out that my level of ignorance pertaining to medieval Ireland was only going to make this mystery an irksome chore on an airplane!
Setting it aside to give it the time it deserves was a much better idea! Although initially slow and somewhat bogged down in the finer historical detail, I was soon swept into Sister Fidelma's world where nuns are NOT silent, men of the cloth are not always good, and politics are NEVER petty.
The characters are vivid, but Tremayne never gives away too much so that the "villians" aren't who they appear to be. He tempts the romantic with the introduction of Brother Eadulf but never succumbs to cheap romance or idle folly. The mysterious cultivation of friendship between Fidelma and Eadulf gives the most personal view of the protagonist(s).
The multiple murders keep you guessing to the end. The story picks up speed in the last half and is indeed VERY HARD TO PUT DOWN!
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Fidelma is a Delight !
If you haven't met Sister Fidelna, Brehon, yet - then you've been missing out. I love a good murder mystery and I love a good historical novel and I get them both in Fidelma. Read more
Published on March 14 2004 by Susanna Duffy
4.0 out of 5 stars History is good, mystery is mediocre....
I purchased this book via "used" selection. I am an Anglo junkie including reading history of early Brits, i.e. Celts. Read more
Published on Oct. 18 2003 by Dianne Foster
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun, quick read
I just finished reading this book, it was rather short, but I found that I enjoyed it quite a bit. The historical aspects were interesting and unique. Read more
Published on July 9 2002 by Lora Friedenthal
3.0 out of 5 stars Not too Bad for a First Effort
This book wasn't too bad for a first effort. The era is an interesting one, and there is some pretty good history here if you're interested in early Christianity and Ancient... Read more
Published on June 4 2002 by S. Schwartz
1.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing backdrop all but ruined by wooden prose
The historical setting of this book with the conflict between Celtic and Roman Christianity was intriguing and realistic. You get a genuine sense for the time and place. Read more
Published on Feb. 11 2002 by K. Eames
3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining but a bit irritating.
My first impression of this series was that the books were interesting, entertaining, and the balance between mystery and history done fairly well. Read more
Published on Jan. 17 2002 by Stoneheart
4.0 out of 5 stars A Reader of Peter Treyamne
I first picked up the first edition to this book which is The Subtle Serpent which is also a very good book. I picked it up not realizing what it was actually about. Read more
Published on July 18 2001 by Holly
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't bother
The setting, a religious counsel in the year 664 C.E. gathered to debate conflicts between the Church of Ireland and the Church of Rome, promises much. Read more
Published on April 26 2001
3.0 out of 5 stars Skip the first book, read the later ones.
Sister Fidelma's first outing is disappointingly predictable even for someone like me who doesn't try particularly hard to guess the murderer. Read more
Published on Jan. 6 2001
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