Scotland 1373: Crispinus, the head of Oronsay Priory, is found dead, strangled and battered, his mouth stuffed with sand, in the middle of the tidal strand separating the holy island of Oronsay from the larger island of Colonsay. The Lord of the Isles, overlord of the islands, assigns the task of finding the killer to Muirteach, the Prior’s bastard son.
Since breaking with his father and leaving the monastery, Muirteach has spent his time acting as scribe for his uncle, an island chieftain. Muirteach’s father, a powerful churchman, leaves behind a mistress and several other bastards as well as his embittered eldest son, who is thankful he will never hear the words, “My bastard son, the cripple” again.
As Muirteach seeks to find his father’s murderer, he is helped by the physician Fearchar Beaton and his daughter Mariota. Muirteach himself is suspected of the murder, as are the Prior’s mistress, her family, and the sub-prior. The killer strikes again, His Lordship wants the mystery solved before the Pope and the King in Edinburgh learn of it, and Muirteach himself must come to terms with his own troubled relationship with his father. Muirteach’s investigation submerges him deep into a whirlpool of deceit, long-buried sins, and treachery, from which no one emerges unscathed.
Praise for A Mass for the Dead
Susan McDuffie writes a fine mystery, full of deception, personal turmoil, treachery, and romantic attraction. It is a comfortable story, rich with Celtic culture, with a grammar and diction that effortlessly catches the tone of its time, location, and people. The plot moves quickly and the characters are well-introduced, garnering emotional appeal with the reader. Her conclusion is satisfying, offering a medieval mirror to current criminal news. ~ Linda Piwowarczyk, Mystery Scene Magazine
McDuffie, who is a “Fan of all things Scottish,” can plunge the reader into this world of the past and hold your interest. She gives us a much-needed Glossary, Cast of Characters, and a crude map. This tale is well worth your reading time. ~ Janet Overmyer, “I Love a Mystery”
A Mass for the Dead is a terrific read. Susan McDuffie clearly knows the world of her 14th century Scottish ancestors intimately, and has the storyteller’s gift for bringing it and its people fully alive. ~ Rafe Martin, author of Birdwing and The World Before This One
Each page drew me closer to the climactic ending that will surely please every reader. ~ Diana Kirk, best-selling author of Song of Isis
In her new novel, Susan McDuffie captures the ancient world of the 14th century Scotland in our Clan’s ancestral homes of Colonsay and Oronsay. With her authentic use of language and Gaelic phrases, and her vivid descriptions of scenery as well as characters, Ms. McDuffie creates images for the reader’s imagination to become immersed in the world of her lead character, Muirteach. ~ Marty Rosser, Clan Society Secretary
Ms. McDuffie has the storyteller’s gift of giving her reader characters that are flesh and blood. The reader will learn to care for its heroes and heroines. She has written a great mystery and the reader will be very satisfied with its ending. ~ Love Romances.com