Expect the unexpected when the discovery of a body sends lapsed-Catholic Joe Rafferty (Love Lies Bleeding, 2005, etc.) into the local convent.
Daily life at Elmhurst’s convent—actually a monastery, though it’s currently in use by a cloistered order of Carmelite nuns—revolves around prayer, contemplation and hard work. So although DI Rafferty’s genuflecting days are over, much to the dismay of his ma, he promises the Prioress, Mother Catherine, to disrupt the nuns’ daily activities as little as possible as he investigates the murder of the unidentified man Sister Rita discovered in a shallow grave on her way to her afternoon spiritual reading. But instead of a holy hush, he finds the sisters atwitter with excitement at having a pack of “brawny policemen” mucking about the shrubbery. Rafferty even gets to sample some of the convent’s apple wine with Sisters Rita and Perpetua. He does need to poke around some, since novice Sister Cecile and postulant Teresa Tattersall both have dodgy boyfriends in their past. He also has pointed questions for Father Roberto Kelly, the convent’s chaplain, and Dr. Peterson, who provides medical care. But increasingly, he finds the convent a haven whose peace and joy distract him from his untidy life—especially the threat of exposure of his role in the Made in Heaven murders (Dying for You, 2004).
Evans’s ear for just the right word more than makes up for her lackadaisical plotting.