Mystery Books for Sale

[ Home ]
[ About | Reviews | Search | Submit ]


by Peter Tremayne
St Martin's Minotaur, March 2005
288 pages
ISBN: 0312323417

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

BADGER'S MOON is the 13th in the Sister Fidelma series, and appropriately uses the lore associated with the full moon as the background to Fidelma's present investigation. Three young women have been brutally slaughtered on the night of three successive full moons and the dálaigh believes the case to be sufficiently serious to justify her leaving her new-born son to try to ensure that a fourth does not share their fate.

She leaves her baby boy Alchu to his nurse's care and, accompanied by Eadulf, the child's father, travels to the Abbey of Finbarr, where she discovers that three exotic travellers are under siege in the Abbey and accused of the murders, largely because they showed up shortly before the murders began, they are black, and they are strange.

But Fidelma believes in law and reason, not coincidence and so she sets about establishing guilt and appropriate punishment. She proceeds as she has been trained to, painstakingly interviewing all those who can conceivably shed light on the events, and a mixed lot they are. Especially intriguing is the apothecary, Liag, who is a bit of a recluse but who holds classes in the ancient knowledge of the moon and stars for the local young people, three of whom were the murder victims.

Then there are the three travellers, with whom Fidelma is able to converse in Greek, whose stories are not quite as convincing as they should be. Or perhaps these murders have nothing whatever to do with pagan ritual or exotic practice, but are merely the result of the jealous passions which also seem to be swirling through the neighbourhood of the Abbey.

It may be that I have simply read one too many Sister Fidelma mysteries, but I found this one rather more irritating than compelling. One of Tremayne's great attractions is his profound enthusiasm for his subject, the language and customs of seventh century Ireland, and his conviction that it represents a kind of golden time in human history, one that holds many lessons in tolerance and governance for the modern day.

In BADGER'S MOON, however, Tremayne seems to be striving a bit too hard to make his point (he goes so far as to have Sister Fidelma echo the Rev King) and long stretches of the book give the impression of having been taken down in simultaneous translation. He also appears to have written himself into something of a corner by making Fidelma a mother, a condition that should considerably reduce her autonomy and freedom of movement. This is a problem few series authors (let alone actual women) have satisfactorily resolved, by the way, and Tremayne is no exception.

His solution -- to land Fidelma with a light case of post-partum depression -- while plausible, does not endear us to his heroine. The man in her life, Eadulf, seems also to be significantly diminished this time out. He spends a great deal of his time asking for translation and explanation, which is handy for Tremayne but does make the Saxon look a bit thick. Nevertheless, and despite my objections to the cliff-hanging concluding chapter, Fidelma's world remains a richly imagined and thoroughly interesting place to spend some time.

Reviewer's Note: This review refers to the most recent of the US publications in the Fidelma series. The next, THE LEPER'S BELL, has already been published in the UK.

Reviewed by Yvonne Klein, April 2005

[ Top ]



Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

[ About | Reviews | Search | Submit ]
[ Home ]