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Comment: This book has already been loved by someone else. It MIGHT have some wear and tear on the edges, have some markings in it, or be an ex-library book. Over-all it is still a good book at a great price! (if it is supposed to contain a CD or access code, that may be missing)
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Absolution by Murder (A Sister Fidelma Mystery) (Mystery of Ancient Ireland) Mass Market Paperback – September 1, 1997

3.9 out of 5 stars 96 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This immensely appealing launch of a new series is set in seventh-century Ireland, which in Tremayne's rendering is a golden age of enlightenment and of total equality for women. Such narrative stumbling blocks as an abundance of stereotypical characters and much more dynastic trivia, ecclesiastical and secular history than can be absorbed are offset by the vigorous, intriguing puzzle posed by a series of murders and by Sister Fidelma, the tale's brilliant and beguiling heroine. An ecclesiastical conclave to settle major divisions between the Roman and Celtic branch of Christianity is held at Whitby in 664. When a major proponent of the Celtic way, the Abbess of Kildare, is murdered, Sister Fidelma, a fellow Celtic follower and legally trained scholar, is asked to investigate. She is paired with her ideological opposite, Brother Eadulf, on the Roman side, who is shrewd, highly educated and immediately smitten with the outspoken sister. The intellectual and physical sparks that are ignited between these two clerics (in an age before celibacy) light up the pages, and when two monks are killed and the malevolence thickens, the book becomes difficult to put down. It is reassuring to read that Sister Fidelma and Brother Eadulf will reappear... next time in Rome.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Peter Tremayne is the pseudonym for Peter Berresford Ellis, a well-respected authority on the ancient Celts. He is the author of over twenty books, including The Dictionary of Celtic Mythology, The Celtic Dawn: A History of Pan Celticism, and The Druids. Valley of the Shadow is the sixth Sister Fidelma mystery. Tremayne lives in London, England.
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Signet (September 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451192990
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451192998
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.7 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (96 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #102,591 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on August 26, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I stumbled across the first "Sister Fidelma-mystery" quite by accident; and I have never before had a more lucky discovery! Sister Fidelma is Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple and Father Brown all rolled into one as well as being the female equivalent to the role played by Sean Connery in "name of the rose". Tremayne writes in a style, which can only be compared to that of Agatha Christie, - with one MAJOR difference though: Where Agatha Christie often let her victims die a hoffifying death by poisoning; Tremayne displays a taste for variation: The first victim in this particular book thus meets her untimely death by throatcutting, another one is drowned in wine, and a third is hanged. I very much like the way Tremayne entertains as well as teaches at the same time. While I read this book, I learned more about the Irish legalsystem in 7th century Ireland, than I ever did at university... I have now read all but one "Sister Fidelma-mystery", and I hope that I will not be reading the last but merely the latest!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I purchased this book with high hopes and expectations, only to be disappointed. If, like me, you tend to roll your eyes at descriptions of handsome but irritating men who unaccountably steal the hearts of (supposedly) intelligent women, then this book is not worth your time. While it never descends to the level of bodice-ripper, neither does it ever approach the excellence of, say, the Cadfael series by Ellis Peters, or the Owen Acher series by Candace M. Robb.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
The historical setting of this book with the conflict between Celtic and Roman Christianity was intriguing and realistic. You get a genuine sense for the time and place. The downfall, and it is quite a fall, is the wooden prose. I have never seen so many characters grimace. Tremayne uses the word "grimace" frequently, conspicously, and awkwardly. In addition, Sister Fidelma's character is one-dimensional. She isn't a medieval feminist from an enlightened society; she is just a grouch. If she isn't angry, she's irritated, impatient, insulted, or otherwsie bothered. Once in a while she is pleasant, but then she grimaces and your back to square one. The plot is crafted well enough, though the murderer wasn't hard to guess. In sum, this might be worth a single read, but I wouldn't search for the hard cover version.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
In the first Sister Fidelma mystery, writer Peter Ellis - writing under the pen name of Peter Tremayne - takes us on a fantastic and memorable journey to the time of the rivalries between the ancient Celt and Saxon tribes of England. The mystery is set against the historical background of the debate between the Celtic and Roman Church factions at Whitby back in AD 664. Oswy, the current King of Northumbria, has called this big assembly at Streoneshalh Abbey, a place directed by his cousin, the Abbess Hilda. Important representatives and religieuses from all over Ireland, Britain and Rome are arriving at the Abbey with the purpose of determining once and for all which Church the Kingdom of Northumbria will follow. Sister Fidelma, an advocate of the courts of Ireland, is also in attendance. When she arrives, she meets with her long time friend, Abbess Étain of Kildare. Known for her culture and eloquence, she is to be the opener speaker for the Celtic faction. However, when the debate opens, Abbess Étain's seat is empty. A few moments later, she is found dead in her cubiculum, her throat slashed. It is immediately suspected that the opposition would be the culprit, but is it? And more importantly, how to prove it?
The King of Northumbria, on learning about Fidelma's position as a dálaigh of the Irish Courts, urges her to bring the murderer to justice. Since rumours are already starting to circulate, no time is to be lost. The country is on the brink of Civil War. Fidelma agrees, and in so doing she accepts the condition imposed by the King of having the crime investigated in conjunction with a representative of the Roman faction, a Saxon by the name of Brother Eadulf. Thus forms one of the most famous partnerships in history for the purpose of solving crimes.
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By A Customer on March 25, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Much like the means of transportation in this novel's 7th century setting, Peter Tremayne's Murder by Absolution moves slowly. It is predictable and densely-written. Tremayne's characters are largely bland and uninteresting. Notable in this respect is Brother Eodulf, whose sole purpose in the novel seems to be a straight man who provides all the obvious--and obviously wrong--solutions to the mystery.

The only compelling element in this novel is its protagonist, Sister Fidelma. She is a surprisingly strong female character, especially given the 7th century setting. However, the author's stereotyping of her as a fiery Irish woman diminishes an otherwise interesting character.

Perhaps worst of all, Murder by Absolution commits the sin of being a predictable mystery. I knew halfway through the book who had commited the murders.

If you like historic settings for your mysteries, you're better off going elsewhere. My suggestion would be Sharon McCrumb's If I'd Killed Him When I Met Him or her equally intriguing She Walks These Hills.
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