August 17, 2012

Book Review: Behold a Pale Horse

Behold a Pale Horse is the 22nd book starring Peter Tremayne's intrepid Sister Fidelma of Cashel. Simultaneously a religeuse, princess and lawyer, Fidelma has a curious mind and cannot resist getting involved whenever something mysterious appears in her path.

Although Behold a Pale Horse is subtitled "A Mystery of Ancient Ireland," it's actually set in 664 A.D. Italy. On her way back home to Ireland after a pilgrimage to Rome, Fidelma is shipwrecked. Stuck in Genoa, she hears that her mentor Brother Ruadan is at an abbey in the mountains. Fidelma sets out to see Ruadan--traveling through the territory of the fierce Longobard warriors (who are gearing up to battle the Franks) to get there. Ruadan confides in her about some mysterious gold coins; but before Fidelma can speak to him again, he's murdered. Soon, Fidelma learns that Ruadan isn't the only person tied to the abbey who has died mysteriously. She is determined to find out if the deaths are connected, and if the gold of which Ruadan spoke is connected to rumors of buried treasure.

Tremayne's lessons in the intricacies of 7th-century northern Italian tribal warfare are fascinating: the Longobards and Franks are opponents both politically and religiously, with pagans, Nicean Christians and Arian Christians all struggling for supremacy. Fidelma must tread delicately to find the gold and solve Ruadan's murder without becoming a victim herself. This intriguing blend of medieval religious life, political warfare and murder will captivate history buffs and crime aficionados alike.

I found the history fascinating, and really enjoyed the mystery! I was a little worried about jumping in so late in a series, but it wasn't at all difficult to catch up. I went back and bought book one though, so that I can start over with more of Fidelma's story.

Rating: 4 out of 5
Should I recommend this to my grandma? Sure!
I originally wrote this review for Shelf Awareness and was compensated for it.

Are you a fan of historical mysteries? 
Ever read any of the other Sister Fidelma books?