cover image The Second Death: A Mystery of Ancient Ireland

The Second Death: A Mystery of Ancient Ireland

Peter Tremayne. Minotaur, $26.99 (352p) ISBN 978-1-250-08176-6

Set in Ireland in 671 C.E., Tremayne’s 26th Sister Fidelma mystery (after 2015’s The Devil’s Seal) has one of the author’s craftiest setups. After a strange wagon joins up with some traveling entertainers en route to perform for the Great Fair of Cashel, it suddenly bursts into flame. The driver, a girl disguised as a boy, may have set the wagon on fire. She jumps off the burning vehicle, runs a few paces, then collapses and dies. After the conflagration is extinguished, the wagon is found to contain a rotting corpse of a man, who turns out to have been poisoned by the same substance that caused the girl’s death. Brother Eadulf, Fidelma’s longtime companion, witnesses these dramatic events; he quickly informs her of what’s transpired and begins to question other witnesses. The former religious sister is troubled when she learns that the entertainers have not been straight with her. Eadulf disappears in a subplot that distracts from the main story, and the payoff doesn’t match the intriguing opening. [em]Agent: Charles Schlessiger, Brandt & Hochman. (July) [/em]