This is a novfel of ancient Ireland, according to the title’s subtext and it is extremely efficient as a vehicle of the lore and lexicon of old Eire. Sister Fidelma is a sleuth who is faced with a murder mystery and has to get to the bottom of it. A ship comes under fire from pirates and is forced ashore, with Sister Fidelma aghast that an envoy of the king has been murdered in cold blood. Tracking the enigmatic emblem of the ship, a white dove, the indefatigable sister stumbles upon, what else, a plot to dethrone the king.
The plot itself is fairly thin and predictable, but the book is interesting at times, with insights into the old words that make up the Gaelic language. The tale is wrapped in the history of the time, with the Roman colonials coming and going, disseminating their knowledge and religion. The pagan beliefs die hard and the church can do little but adapt its rites to the older customs prevalent in the native land. You’ll learn a fair number of Latin phrases, as well as Gaelic words long since vanished.
Verdict: Educational and mildly enjoyable.