In this seventh outing for Sister Mary Helen and her co-conspirator, Sister Eileen, the two nuns take time out from their duties at Mount St. Francis College in San Francisco when a wealthy widow, a benefactor of the college and dear friend, is the second victim of a local rapist-murderer. And if that weren't enough to make the nuns take the crime personally (and infuriate the homicide detective in charge, who has had experience with these feisty elderly nuns before), the policeman husband of a former student (herself a cop) is severely wounded in a confrontation with the criminal.
Between juggling their regular duties, ducking the notice of the detectives on the case, and a well-meaning plan to straighten out the life of a sad young woman employed by the college library, Sister Mary Helen and Sister Eileen have their hands full. But, as criminals, law enforcement types, and their fellow nuns have discovered, there's no stopping the pair if they feel their involvement is called for.
Not all the villains in the engrossing mystery are criminals; there are a couple of mothers who would delight Sigmund Freud. But the many reader-friendly characters, and especially the two elderly nuns, make this a charming as well as exciting listen.
"O'Marie delivers compelling characters and sophisticated plotting in her best effort to date." (Publishers Weekly)
"[There is a] depth to the novel beyond the level of a simple whodunit. Hard to put down." (Booklist)
I didn't warm to this book as much as I did "Requiem at the Refuge" in the same series. The irrepressibly investigative nun who appears throughout the series shines here as well. I was able to guess the identity of the killer early on, though, which made it a little less fun.
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Somehow this story seemed to impress with its dreariness - relentless dreariness. The religious aspect helped me but the only exciting moment happens for me when I can see it's almost over.
The characters are fine and well-described, and easily understood - maybe too easily - a charicature of their respective types?
This is my first Sister Helen story - but halfway thru the series. I may go back to the earlier books and try again - they are said to be good, but unless I can become interested in the characters, I may not be able to appreciate its goodness.