St. Martin's, July 2003, 23.95, 288 pp.
In the kingdom of Dyfed in what is now South Wales, Brother Cyngar stops at Llampadern, a religious community of twenty-seven brothers, expecting a good meal only to find the place deserted. There are no signs of a struggle but it looks like the brothers departed in the middle of their meal and all the livestock is missing. The traveler rushes to the Abbey of Dewi Saint to inform Abbot Tryffin. The abbot and the king of Dyfed, whose son is one of the missing brothers, prevail upon Sister Fidelma and Brother Eadulf to investigate the vanishing.
Fidelma and Eadulf agree to help though both realize the Britons who occupy most of Dyfed hate the Saxons. They stop briefly at the town of Pen Cair, accompanied by a judge, who is presiding over a murder trial. The two visiting sleuths help their companion investigate the situation until it is time to travel to Llampadern where they are kidnapped by outlaws who have a distinctly royal bearing. When they escape, they find the judge murdered. Fidelma investigates both cases with some very interesting results.
Peter Tremayne makes the culture of that period come alive in the mind's eye and snares the interest of the reader from the outset. Fidelma observes that mid-seventh century South Wales is very similar to her homeland since the Celts also settled there. This who done-it has many layers and the two cases have threads in common which makes for a brilliant puzzle that is almost impossible to solve. As usual a Fidelma mystery is always fun to read and SMOKE IN THE WIND is no exception.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner