This delightful Irish mystery is already the 10th part of the exciting Burren series. The tale is now set in the year AD 1519 and again it tells the story of Mara, Brehon of the Burren, but due to the leap of six years, its predessor was set in AD 1513, the old familiar scholars like Fachtnan, Aidan, Moylan, Fiona, Hugh and Shane have been replaced by Slevin from Donegal, Mara's grandson Domhnall, Mara's son Cormac and his foster-brother Art and Finbar from Cloyne. Again the book is very informative with historical details about Brehon Law in Ireland in the 16th Century, and this Irish lady deserves so much more credit for her stories, simply because her Burren mysteries are just excellent. This story is about the Cross of Kilnaboy Church, and it seems to be an important relic, some say it's a piece of the true cross itself, when Mara sets out to attend mass at this same Kilnaboy Church with her scholars. After the service a fire breaks out in the round tower where the relic is housed, when next morning a dead body is found of one of the pilgrims, naked and spreadeagled in the shape of the cross a little way from this same Kilnaboy Church. And so it's up to Mara and the pupils of her law-school to investigate this deed and to bring the culprit to justice. This is another excellent "Thrilling Irish murder mystery"!
In my search to find good historical mysteries I had come across this series several times but had not read any of the novels. I was intrigued to learn more of the Irish system of law and order as illustrated in this novel set in 1519. To think that the Irish were so far ahead of other countries that they could have this system in place where a representative of the king could be completely in charge of hearing cases and settling disputes was interesting enough. But add to that the fact that they did this regardless of whether the Brehon was male or female certainly did make me interested in reading this novel. How did this system work so well when everything depended on the pride of family and community to maintain order? Mara, the Brehon of Burren in mid-west Ireland is also in charge of the law school where she teaches her five students, one of whom is her son and a second is her grandson. They make their way to attend Mass at Kilnaboy Church and find at the service that six pilgrims have arrived to see the holy relic of the one true cross. Unfortunately one of the pilgrims is later found dead with stigmata suggesting crucifixion. Mara will need the help of her assistant and her students to reason out what happened to Herr Hans Kaufmann.
Even though this novel is the tenth in the series I had no problem whatsoever with being able to understand the background of the characters, the foundation of the legal system, and the author did a wonderful job of making me comfortable with the characters as well as the surroundings. This is the type of mystery novel where the crime is solved by discussion among many interested parties so I was given all the information showing how Mara came to her conclusion. The themes of religious fervor and human nature are what hold this story together. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and will not hesitate to read more in the series.
I received this novel as an ARC from NetGalley. The opinions expressed are my own.