Friday, 24 September 1999

Peter Tremayne: Valley of the Shadow (1998)

Edition: Headline, 1998
Review number: 334

The Sister Fidelma mysteries seem to be beginning to fall into a familiar pattern as the series grows in length. She goes to a remote corner of her brother's kingdom of Muman (better known by its later name of Munster) to a suspicious and insular community. There, murders happen, often linked to a threat to her brother's rule, and Fidelma overcomes local opposition to solve the mystery. The variety of settings used in the earlier books - different parts of Ireland, Whitby, Rome - has disappeared. The character of Fidelma has settled into an opportunity for Tremayne to repeat again and again his point that seventh century Ireland was an immensely civilised place. Her enlightened attitude is always on display, emphasised by the astonishment it causes in those around her - especially her Saxon friend Eadwulf.

None of these criticisms stop the Sister Fidelma mysteries being interesting and entertaining detective novels, but it is perhaps time that Tremayne made a bit more effort again.

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