In 670 A.D. Fidelma of Cashel is asked to act as an advisor to the Irish delegation to a church council hostile to the Celtic Church. In an abbey in Burgundy, Bishop Leodegar of Autun has assembled church leaders from all over western Europe—an assembly which soon descends into chaos. That night, one of the delegates is found murdered, his skull crushed and Fidelma and her companion, Brother Eadulf, are suddenly in the midst of a murder investigation involving some of the most power religious leaders. Between the autocratic Bishop Leodegar and the malignant abbess, Mother Audofleda, a web of sinister intrigue soon spreads. The theft of a priceless reliquary box, the disap pear ance of women and children and rumours of a slave trade make this one of the most sinister and deadly puzzles that Fidelma and Eadulf have ever faced.
Sister Fidelma encounters a raft of political, religious and cultural conundrums in Tremayne's engrossing 18th full-length novel to feature the seventh-century Celtic advocate (after 2008's Dancing with Demons). Accompanied by her companion, Eadulf, Fidelma journeys to the French city of Autun to serve as aide and adviser to Abbot S gdae at a conference of church leaders. Before they arrive, one delegate is murdered and suspicion falls equally on two others who are bitter enemies. Bishop Leodegar charges Fidelma, because of her reputation as a sleuth, with determining which of the two is guilty of murder. Tremayne's seamless blend of church history (e.g., Pope Vitalian's efforts to impose Rome's authority over disparate western churches) and political squabbles (e.g., among Britons, Angles and Saxons) provide meaty background. Fidelma's ability to best opponents, whether in argument, strategy or audacity, makes her a heroine for any age.