When Sechnussach, High King of Ireland, is found dead in his bedchamber with his throat cut, all clues seem to suggest an all-too-obvious prime suspect. Dubh Duin, the chieftain of the clan Cinél Cairpre, was found with the murder weapon in his hand when the High King's guards entered the royal chamber, before taking his own life. The Chief Brehon of Ireland asks Sister Fidelma to investigate and find out what possible motives could have driven Dubh Duin to assassinate the High King. Her investigations reveals an intricate web of conspiracy and deception that threatens to unbalance the five kingdoms and send them spiralling into a violent and bloody civil war and religious conflict...
Judicial advocate Sister Fidelma takes on her most sensitive assignment yet in Tremayne's excellent 16th mystery set in seventh-century Ireland (after 2007's A Prayer for the Damned). When Sechnussach, High King of the five kingdoms of ireann, is assassinated, the killer appears to be a kinsman, Dubh Duin, found in the king's bed chamber, dying by his own hand and still bearing the knife that apparently struck the fatal blow. Since the powers-that-be are concerned that Sechnussach's heir, Cenn Faelad, not fall under suspicion, they appoint Fidelma, as an outsider, to uncover the motive for the crime. She soon finds that a person, possibly someone close to the throne, had arranged for Duin to get past the king's guards and enter Sechnussach's chamber unchallenged. Tremayne does his usual masterful job of depicting the strain between Christianity and the Old Faith, and provides a logical, if surprising, twist toward the end.