Act of Mercy (Sister Fidelma Mysteries Book 8)

Our Lady of Darkness (Sister Fidelma Mysteries Book 10)

Complications arise during the first night on the ship when one of the pilgrims is apparently washed overboard. The discovery of a blood-stained robe raises the question of murder and Fidelma finds herself having to focus all her abilities on solving the mystery. Death dogs the tiny band of pilgrims in the close confines of the ship, but is not until the Holy Shrine is almost reached that the amazing truth is uncovered Pilgrims and pirates - Fidelma has trouble finding the truth' 'An intriguing glimpse of Fidelma's interior life and past' show more.

Act of Mercy (Sister Fidelma Mysteries Book 8)

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Act of Mercy is the eight novel in the Sister Fidelma series. Sister Fidelma of Cashel, a town in Ireland, lived in the seventh century A. Although most of Europe was suffering the Dark Ages, Ireland was a progressive land where gender discrimination was rare. In Ireland any citizen could aspire to any profession.

Sister is a very talented and accomplished woman. Fidelma has a graduate education where she earned the degree of anruth, similar to a masters degree today. Fidelma works as a dalaigh, an advocate in the courts. As an advocate she investigates problems and crimes and advises both church and civil authorities. A dalaigh may prosecute, defend, or even serve as judge in a criminal proceeding. Fidelma is a strong independent woman.

This story is set almost entirely on a voyage to a pilgrimage. Sister Fidelma begins a "retreat" to a shrine of Saint James in Iberia. Sister feels she needs the retreat to sort out her feelings toward her vocation and her life. Shortly after departure of the pilgrims, Sister Muirgel, disappears and a bloodstained robe is found in her cabin. Under the authority of the ship's captain, Murchad, Fidelma investigates the mystery. Sister's investigation faces great difficulties. Is there a murder or suicide, how can one be certain without Muirgel's body?

Her fellow passengers seem to resent Fidelma's questions and doubt her authority.

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She receives shallow and sarcastic answers. What happened to Sister Muirgel?

Did she fall overboard? Did someone push Muirgel overboard? Her passengers provide little clue to the mystery. Is Sister Crella, Muirgel's cousin and best friend involved? Is Brother Cian, Fidelma's former lover, who recently split with Muirgel part of the mystery? Is it young Brother Guss, Muirgel's most recent lover? Possibly Sister Ainder was involved. Ainder considered Muirgel to have lose morals and a danger to the spiritually of the abbey.

Maybe Brother Tola, who quickly dismisses Fidelma as inferior because she is female. Even Sister Gorman, who Ainder believes to be saintly, could be a suspect. All the passengers had motive and opportunity. The voyage itself is very authentic. The navigation and the description of sailing tasks by the crew seem very real. During a storm scene, I could feel the motion of the ship, the rise and fall, the sliding, the feeling of uncontrolled motion.

The characters are entertaining. Sister Ainder and Brother Tola are strict conservatives that judge Fidelma as not sufficiently religious. Sister Crella is very protective of her relationship with Muirgel and becomes suspicions of Fidelma. One character, Brother Cian, is a surprise to Fidelma.

Ten years ago, Cian was Fidelma's lover.

Other books by the author

He keeps Sister off balance and stimulates her daydreams.