Chain of Evidence
Ireland was a wild place during the time when Henry VIII was on England’s throne. Cardinal Wolsey has sent Stephen Gardiner there to examine the ways of the people and their laws. The leading chapters bring together many people as they mourn the passing of the Tanaiste, the chieftain’s heir. The book’s title refers to the chain found with the Taoiseach, the chieftain, who is found dead after a cattle stampede. After the first witness sees his body, with a chain attached to his ankle, it mysteriously disappears, and all of those involved deny its existence. Now the clan has the task of appointing not one but two new leaders. The list of suspects and motives are mounting up for Brehon Mara, the king’s lawyer and judge, and her brilliant law students. Despite her position as the king’s wife and her high legal standing as Brehon, there are those who stand to benefit from the Taoiseach’s death and would like her investigations to end. The greed and ambitions of the men and women who want to become Taoiseach and inherit his lands and wealth turn the atmosphere treacherous and poisonous.
The author has certainly researched her history of the period, providing us with information on the laws and the terminology used in Ireland at that time. The chapter headings reflect the antiquated beliefs of early Ireland. The Gaelic titles and names can be overwhelming in the beginning, but readers will find them an important introduction to the times. The customs and people add interest as the plot in this period mystery develops.