The Second Death

Written by Peter Tremayne
Review by Ilysa Magnus

It is 671 AD, and the beginning of the summer season in the Irish kingdom of Muman, where Fidelma’s brother is king and she continues to act as dalaigh of the Breton courts and companion to Eadulf. On the eve of the Great Fair of Cashel, a foreign-seeming wagon accompanying a group of traveling entertainers headed to the Fair catches fire. The young woman driver is not the only casualty – there is a rotting corpse discovered in the back of the wagon by Eadulf. Who are these people? Where did they come from? Is there murder afoot? A plot? With scarcely a week left before the Fair commences, Fidelma and Eadulf set off to investigate in the hopes of solving the mystery.

I think I’ve read every Fidelma book since the inception of the series. While the former religieuse has clearly grown as a person, the character I found most entertaining – and maturing – in this installment was Eadulf. Perhaps Tremayne has just begun to pay more attention to him, but Eadulf’s intuition, his ability to survive under very difficult circumstances and his personhood, separate from Fidelma, is definitely the focus here. Although the series is notable for its sense of place and time and for its fairly complex plots (and some really good insight into the social mores of the period), I always find that the characters are most memorable. A very enjoyable read – especially during the summer!