Book number 77 that I read was The Chalice of Blood by Peter Tremayne. These are now listed as A Mystery of Ancient Ireland instead of A Sister Fidelma Mystery because Fidelma has decided to leave the religious life and pursue the life of a lawyer. This has always been her first love and so she has made the decision to renounce her religious vows. This has caused problems between Fidelma and Eadulf, who is still committed to his vocation as a brother in a religious community. He wanted Fidelma to bring their son Alchú with him and live in a religious community north of Cashel but Fidelma refused, so they have separated.
The abbott of Lios Mór has sent to Cashel and asked for Fidelma’s help in solving the mysterious death of one of the brethren of the abbey, Brother Donnchad. He was found murdered in his locked cell, which was locked from the inside with the only key to the cell found by his bed. The manuscripts he was working on were missing from his cell. Brother Donnchad had recently returned from a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and had been exhibiting strange behavior. He insisted on a lock being put on his cell door and had been keeping to himself and not speaking to anyone. There are other interesting characters at the abbey, in particular Brother Lugna, the conservative Roman steward, who acts more like the abbot than the abbot Iarnla.
On the way to the abbey, Fidelma, Eadulf, whom Fidelma has taken with her at her brother’s request, and Gormán, their bodyguard, are attacked by two warriors. This adds another puzzle to solve. When they arrive at the abbey, they find a large building program underway, funded by the abbey’s patroness, Lady Eithne, who was also Brother Donnchad’s mother. Accidents are occurring at the abbey and then attacks are happening at nearby settlements. These all seem to be related. Fidelma must resolve all these puzzles and put all the pieces together. Seventy-seven down, 23 to go.