Peter Tremayne – Shroud for the Archbishop

Shroud for the Archbishop is the second book  in Peter Tremaynes historical serie about the celtic (irish) sister and advocat in the 7th century.

This is the first Sister Fidelma book I´ve ever read but apparently they are quite popular. In this book Sister Fidelma travels to Rome to meet the Pope to get her convent blessed. There she also meets the saxon brother Eadulf. Together whom they solved the case Absolution By Murder (The first book).

Also in Rome is the Archbishop of Canterbury who recently has been appointed Archbishop after a long conflict between the Irish and the Saxons. When the Archbishop is murdered there could be a political crisis between the Irish and the Saxon, especially if the  murderer is Irish. To soften both sides the Irish sister Fidelma and the Saxon Eadulf  are given the task to find the murderer.  They soon have a suspect but Fidelma wants clear evidence before they jump to any conclusions.

This is a puzzle mystery and Fidelma and Eadulf walks around Rome to to investigate and talk to suspects. While they are solving the mystery we are getting plenty of history lessons and descriptions of Rome from this period of time and there is no doubt that the author knows his history.

A big problem for all writers who writes historical novels is to make the characters credible and at the same time make them interesting for a modern reader. This is really a hard task since people behaved differently and lived in a very different type of society in the 7th century. I´m buying that there were strong, outspoken and educated women in Ireland during this period but it seems unlikely to me that the Romans who lived in a very patriarchal society would accept Sister Fidelmas behaviour so easy. Eadulf is a completely modernized which makes him totally unbelievable as a character. I also wish Tremayne would have toned down Fidelmas moral which makes her character too perfect, add her fighting skills and she is really a super hero woman. Despite this Sister Fidelma has a lot of charm and I can´t help but like her.

I think the criminal story had a lot of potential in the beginning but I don´t like the typical puzzle mystery ending with the line up. It would have worked so much better without the puzzle form.

If you like Puzzle mysteries and historical novels you should give this a try. If you like Sister Fidelma you have a whole series of books to look forward to. What you definitely should read is Umberto EcosName of the Rose who really is a great historical criminal novel with religion as a key ingredient. (There is also a movie starring Sean Connery and Christian Slater)

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