cover image The House of Death

The House of Death

Peter Tremayne. Severn, $29.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-7278-8965-2

Set in 672 CE, Tremayne’s strong 32nd whodunit featuring Irish law advocate Sister Fidelma (after 2020’s The Shapeshifter’s Lair) finds Fidelma’s brother, Colgú, the king of Muman, preparing for the ceithirfine, “the annual gathering of the seven princes of the Eóganacht.” The law allows the princes to hold Colgú to account for how he has ruled; if they agree with his decisions for the previous year, he’ll be handed a sacred sword to signify his legitimacy. But murder interferes. Someone smashes the skull of Brother Conchobhar, Fidelma’s surrogate father, and steals some sacred relics in the elderly man’s care. The timing seems tied to the ceithirfine, as Conchobhar served the king as keeper of the sword, though that ceremonial item wasn’t one of the stolen relics. Fidelma investigates, even as her brother faces another threat to his authority—a docked ship carrying people infected with the plague raises concerns that spread of the pestilence will be blamed on Colgú. Tremayne plays fair with the readers while evoking the period in vivid detail. This long-running series remains as fresh and inventive as ever. Agent: Euan Thorneycroft, A.M. Heath (U.K.). (Sept.)