Tremayne, Peter - 'Behold a Pale Horse'
This novel, the latest in the long-running series featuring Sister Fidelma, takes a step back in time to before the young nun is married. She has been travelling in Europe and is near Northern Italy, on her way home, when her ship runs into trouble. Temporarily without a means of getting home, she makes a detour to a nearby monastery to visit one of her former tutors. Fidelma is her usual feisty self in this book, shocking the monks with her forthright, outspoken nature and the almost brazen attitude with which she gets to the bottom of the mystery she uncovers this time around. It is rather touching to observe her catching herself almost by surprise in this novel, when she starts thinking about a young man that she has recently met - a certain Eadulf of Seaxmund's Ham in East Anglia. Of course, followers of the series know that she goes on to marry Eadulf but it is sweet to see her starting to develop her feelings for him here. Despite her feisty brashness, Fidelma is a sensitive and caring soul but it isn't that often we get to see her more vulnerable side!
Fidelma's beloved old tutor is sick, so when she discovers that he is living nearby and is unlikely to live for much longer, she rushes to his side. On the way she and her party are ambushed but this is only the beginning of the danger she is to expose herself to. Not knowing the local language and suspecting foul play is at the centre of her tutor's injuries, she is at loss as to whom she can trust. Sensing that war is coming, her tutor urges her to leave the area but this becomes impossible when somebody murders the man and she vows to catch the killer.
Full of the usual Fidelma mannerisms, sharp logic and cutting comments, long-time fans of the series will love this book just as much as the earlier ones. Fidelma is an interesting and endearing character. It is always refreshing to see a strong female character winning the day and Fidelma certainly gets my vote!
Amanda C M Gillies, Scotland