Bored The book is repetitive, cliched and full of historical infodumps I didn t make it through the first half Too bad I love mysteries and historicals, and especially love historical mysteries Brother Cadfael is my comfort reading.I got increasingly irritated with the characterization of the women beautiful genius, or thickset so must be a lesbian This is the first a eighteen books in this series They are historical mysteries set in Ireland in the mid seventh century AD Sister Fidelma is the protagonist She is a religieuse and a qualified dalaigh in other words a lawyer in that system of law Tremayne is an excellant writer and an Irish historian, one of the best As well as thoroughly enjoying the stories I am almost in awe of the Irish system of law in that historical period I have found myself than once wishing that that system of law was current and active in our day I highly reccomend this series of books to anyone who enjoys historical mysteries and or to anyone interested in a law system that makes human sense.PS Most of the books have historical notes that go even deeper into the law and history of that period in Ireland. ABSOLUTION BY MURDER Is The Brilliant And Evocative First Novel In Peter Tremayne S Sister Fidelma Series, Bringing Th Century Ireland Vividly To LifeAs The Leading Churchmen And Women Gather At The Synod Of Whitby In AD 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 FactionAttending 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 hmmmlooked interesting at the library and since I do love Cadfael and miss Ellis Peters , I was willing to give it a shot I m glad a few other readers let me know that the writing style has its hiccupsbut I have to admit, finding it a really hard slog The main character is interesting but the author had decided we need to know everything he knows, instead of dropping in just enough historical detail for background and to let me the reader explore it too I keep going not sure why hope for something better but find myself scanning and mentally editing paragraphs to see what would make it smoother to readthat s not the most fun Plus, this might be the edition I m reading, but the dialogue set up somehow makes it very hard to tell who s speaking And since every character seems to expound the same kind of details, you can t even tell by what they re saying Maybe when I get to the end, I ll believe it s worth itI hopeWell, got to the endand while the denouement was reasonably goodjust not convinced it was worth the work it took to get there I would consider using it to teach writing and or editing exercises in a creative writing class Or to show students why some simple patterns don t work Oh well, you win some, you lose othersI m definitely sticking with Cadfael It was ok I am willing to give Tremayne the benefit of the doubt and just assume he hadn t yet quite figured out his fiction voice yet, since this WAS the first fiction book he d written His history books are better, and he is clearly comfortable with that genre since he was simply unable to refrain from adding in somewhat irrelevant historical facts to this book It wasn t terrible, just not very good I think he also needs a better editor I found numerous grammatical errors, and a few times he would use one word when clearly he meant a different word, like using indifferent instead of diffident And his characters grimaced a lot So his fictional writing style needs some polishing It was a predictable plot as well I figured out who did it almost first thing, and it was confirmed in the immediate aftermath of Etain s murder I did like Sister Fidelma, though, and will most likely be reading of this series I have a weakness for medieval mysteries AND Ireland, so between the two, the series does have a continuing hold on me I just won t be running out logging on, really, but whatever to buy the next one But I am sure I will eventually. After the death of the incomparable Ellis Peters and of course with her death, also the end of her Brother Cadfael series of Mediaeval mysteries which is truly my absolutely favourite historical mystery series of all time , I have since then been on a constant quest to find an adequate and worthwhile replacement And while I do have a few series that come close even if they are still not quite on par with Ellis Peters brilliance namely Paul Doherty s Hugh Corbett, Susanna Gregory s Matthew Bartholomew and Edward Marston s Nicholas Bracewell series , for the most part I have been rather disappointed with the historical mysteries I have tried as Brother Cadfael alternatives and have often actually stopped after perusing the first instalment of a to be considered series often finding especially the authors writing styles and tones of voice either annoyingly pedantic or inauthentic and sometimes indeed a combination of both And indeed, this has most definitely been the case for me with Peter Tremayne s rather well known and famous Sister Fidelma series For while I do enjoy and appreciate Sister Fidelma as a character and historical sleuth and have found the author s historical and ecclesiastical knowledge of early Mediaeval Ireland both interesting and also quite massively impressive, sorry, but when I was reading the first Sister Fidelma novel, when I was reading Absolution by Murder, I have generally felt that Peter Tremayne s writing style was at best too much info dumping, was too much like reading a non fiction textbook on Irish history and Irish Christianity, with the storyline itself seemingly lost in the constant lectures that especially Sister Fidelma has the tendency to give Therefore, while Mediaeval history certainly is of much personal and academic interest to me, if I am reading a Mediaeval mystery, I first and foremost want to be entertained and read an engaging account of a given mystery And no, this has not really been the case for me with Absolution by Murder where sadly and in my opinion, pedantry and too much information seems to far outweigh Peter Tremayne telling us an entertaining and engaging historical mystery, as I do find Sister Fidelma, Brother Eadulf and indeed most of the presented characters often lost under the author s need to constantly show and teach but not really relate this in any manner as smoothly incorporated into his narrative framework and structure And while Absolution by Murder also has not been in any fashion a totally terrible and horrible personal reading experience, I did find the novel rather tedious and often really quite massively boring and am therefore also not planning to consider any of Peter Tremayne s Sister Fidelma series although I have also heard from friends that some of the later series instalments are supposedly not quite as heavy handedly into teaching Irish history and Irish religious history. Great setting, and a time and place I knew next to nothing about It was fun to hear the echoes of How the Irish Saved Civilization And it s a fairly competent mystery although the minor characters are cutouts, and like others I suspected the perp all along, I didn t really put it together until the denouement But I agree with other two and three star reviewers The stylistic problems in Tremayne s prose are distracting, given the high quality of others in the genre For example he loses his grip on the point of view character, shifting haphazardly and unnecessarily from one to another It would be better to stick with Sister Fidelma Therefore you can t see the set of her mouth or the oh, not again flash of her green of course eyes Description is weak as well For this period we need the sounds and smells of the place It s too little too late, in the second half, to know that the kitchen smells of rotten cabbage Except that the rooms are named in Latin, most of the action could just as well be in a Holiday Inn. That Peter Tremayne pseudonym of an unnamed medieval scholar can t write his way out of a cloister I got halfway through before giving it up as a waste of reading time Wooden prose that could have used an editor Too many references to Sister s green eyes or blue , as well as to the Brother s deep baritone voice As opposed to a thin, reedy baritone voice The murder mystery is almost incidental to academic discussions of Roman vs Irish Catholicism in the 7th Century One cover blurb compared this to Brother Caedfael I agree didn t like those either. What to label Absolution by Murder Celtic propaganda A hit piece on ancient Angle, Saxon and Roman cultures A theological and philosophical debate A sexless romance novel A murder mystery Actually, it s a bit of everything rolled into a 272 page book There s much to love and loathe in this first installment of the Sister Fidelma series of historical mysteries.I took away plenty from the book First and foremost, I learned that Tremayne, as a scholar of all things Irish, loves ancient Irish culture and Celtic Christianity, and finds Angles, Saxons, and Roman theology lacking While the Irish bathe regularly, the bath averse Saxons must cover their gag inducing body odor with overwhelming clouds of incense While the enlightened Celts practice restorative forms of justice, the barbaric Saxons prefer stoning, hanging, flogging, and other forms of torture While the well balanced Celtic faith allows their religious to marry, the prudish Romans force the unnatural condition of celibacy on their monastics While the evolved Celts allow women to take on positions of leadership in the political and religious realms, the patriarchal Saxons seem to relish finding as many ways as possible to belittle women Tremayne bludgeons readers brains continuously with his learned brand of cultural elitism While I may agree with most of his preferences for how the world should work, I found his proselytizing tone extremely annoying at times.Then there s Tremayne s incessant info dumping It s one thing to provide useful information on characters and historical context, but quite another to assault readers with every minor detail, including challenging place names with little to no relevance for the story s outcome.On a positive note, Absolution by Murder reminds me that, often than not, debates over church dogma and doctrine come down to power grabs Sure, many Mothers and Fathers of the church have argued sincerely on points of great importance and pastoral relevance But debates over scriptural inerrancy, a proper tonsure, papal infallibility, limiting salvation to certain folks, the dating of Easter, whether or not birth control may be used, original sin, how to position your fingers for a blessing, restricting participation in the Eucharist, etc A desire to secure power and control over others plays a big part in the proceedings.Though I enjoyed much about Tremayne s handling of these theological and philosophical debates, I found myself wanting a deeper discussion Is Tremayne so blinded by his love of Celtic Christianity that he can t acknowledge the pain experienced as Christianity encountered the traditional Druidic pagan systems of ancient Ireland Is there any beauty and good to be found in Roman Christianity Must criminality and guilt be made so obvious with unfortunate scars and ugly or awkward appearance Much of my struggle has to do with the black and white treatment of good and evil I wanted nuance.In looking at what I ve written above, I m somewhat surprised that I gave Absolution by Murder three stars It seems one or two stars might be in order What can I say, I love Sister Fidelma, and appreciate Tremayne s creating such a strong heroine There s a genuine sweetness in the blossoming romance between Fidelma and Eadulf And as a theologian, I find the period of church history chosen by Tremayne than a little fascinating And though I give Tremayne a hard time about his fanboy treatment of Celtic Christianity, I love the tradition as well Absolution by Murder left me wanting to know about the characters, relationships, and what life would have been like for the religious of that time and place I will continue with the Sister Fidelma series while hoping for a nuanced and less infodumpy treatment of the subject. The author wants us readers to know everything about the 7th century He leaves no name unmentioned which is very distracting in the beginning In the second half of the book there s room for the story, which I enjoyed.
Peter Berresford Ellis born 10 March 1943 is a historian, literary biographer, and novelist who has published over 90 books to date either under his own name or his pseudonyms Peter Tremayne and
- 272 pages
- Absolution by Murder
- Peter Tremayne
- 03 July 2017 Peter Tremayne