I have read the 44th book for the book challenge. It was Behold A Pale Horse: A Sister Fidelma Mystery by Peter Tremayne.
Sister Fidelma is returning to Hibernia from Rome when her ship is damaged during a storm and they must put into the port of Genua. There she must wait for another ship. She is out walking when she sees an elderly monk being attacked by two men. She helps him and they become friendly. His name is Magister Ado and she learns that he is from the Abbey at Bobium. She also learn that this abbey was founded by her countryman Columbanus, or Colum Ban, and that her former teacher, Brother Ruadan, lives there. She would like to visit them so she sets out for the Abbey of Bobium with Magister Ado and his companions, Brother Faro and Sister Gisa. They are returning from a trip to trade a book for their abbey.
As they travel the three days’ journey to Bobium, they are attacked by two men in the forest. An arrow pierces Brother Faro’s shoulder but they all assume that once again, the intended target is Magister Ado. They reach the fortress of Raoald, the Lord of Trebbia, before they come to Bobium. Sister Fidelma that night sees the men who attacked them talking to Raoald’s apothecary Suidar, and Sister Gisa in the fortress’s courtyard. She wonders what this could mean.
The next day they reach the Abbey of Bobium. Sister Fidelma learns that her teacher Brother Ruadan has been attacked for preaching the gospel by the heretic Arians and heated. He is gravely ill. She may see him, but must not task him. She goes to him but some of the things he says does not make sense. She resolves to go to see him on her own when no one else is around. Later she does so. He tells her that the boy Wamba was killed because of the gold coins he gave him. He also make reference to a mausoleum. Then he tells her to leave the abbey because there is evil there. She must leave because someone is coming. Then the Lady Gunora and her young charge are reported missing, and then Brother Ruadan is reported to have died in his sleep. But Sister Fidelma discovers that Brother Ruadan was smothered with a pillow.
Sister Fidelma and a fellow Hibernian brother arrange to visit the sanctuary at the top of the mountain. First they stop into the cabin of the boy Wamba’s mother Hawisa and ask her about the boy’s death. Apparently he had fallen on the mountain when he was tending his goats. He had given a gold coin to the abbott and the abbott had given the value of the coin to his mother. Wamba was buried in the abbey necropolis. Brother Eolann translates Hawisa’s story for Sister Fidelma. They proceed to the sanctuary. While there, they discover the body of the Lady Gunora but not of the young lord. They are taken prisoners of the Lord of the Vars, Grasulf, and led to his fortress.
Grasulf is a pagan. He keeps Sister Fidelma and Brother Eolann as his prisoners. Sister Fidelma is outraged, but Brother Eolann is content to look over Grasulf’s library since he is the scriptor of the abbey. Suidar arrives and helps Sister Fidelma and Brother Eolann escape to Raoald’s fortress and eventually return to the Abbey of Bobium. Sister Fidelma is beginning to put together the pieces of the puzzle together. She knows that gold is involved. It has been made to appear that it is the gold of Caepia of ancient times, Aurum Tolosa, but she knows this is just a myth to distract them. There are conspirators in the abbey who are plotting this thing.
Then Abbott Servillius is murdered. She had suspected he was involved by now has to revise her theory. She confides in Venerable Iona and they leave the abbey and tell Raoald that Grasulf will attack the abbey to steal the gold that is hidden in a mausoleum in the necropolis. Brother Eolann was in charge of building that mausoleum and now he has been found dead, too, after he said he was going to make confession to Abbott Servillius. Grasulf attacks the abbey but Raoald counterattacks and defeats him. The steward Wulfila is the other conspirator. It was he who killed Brother Ruadan. And the mastermind behind all this was Brother Faro, Sister Gisa’s lover. Sister Gisa is devastated.
Sister Fidelma returns to Genua to find a ship to carry her home to Hibernia. She misses home but would like to see the young Saxon Brother Eadulf again.
This book, while the latest in the series, relates a tale out of order in the telling of the story of Sister Fidelma. It was an interesting departure from the other books where we have learned that Sister Fidelma has married Brother Eadulf and they have a young son, as she continues her work as a dailaigh and she solves mysteries.