Books by Carol Anne O’Marie

Released: June 5, 2006

"The killer is no surprise, but devotees will presumably enjoy another of the Sisters' travel adventures as much as they would postcards or photo albums."
A lethal Irish road trip for Sister Mary Helen and Sister Eileen. Read full book review >
Released: Aug. 12, 2002

"The largely predictable adventure, though mostly for fans of the series (Requiem at the Refuge, 2000, etc.), is enlivened by interesting local color and softened by a mellowed Sister Mary Helen."
Sister Mary Helen is getting on in years, but in addition to ministering daily to homeless women at a church-run refuge, she's still the premier sleuth in residence at San Francisco's Mount Saint Francis College. Her latest case falls literally into her lap when undercover police officer Sarah Spencer is shot just outside the refuge building, uttering only a single word as she dies in Mary Helen's arms. Inspector Dennis Gallagher is furious, as always, when he finds Mary Helen on the scene, but his partner Kate Murphy, now Bassetti, greets her warmly—no surprise, considering the help the police will need cleaning up the neighborhood. Another undercover cop is ensconced in the New You Tattoo Parlor trying to track down rumors of a well-protected local prostitution ring. And prostitutes aren't the refuge's only problem. One of its daily visitors is Geraldine, a working-girl alumna worried sick about the disappearance of her nephew, tough guy Junior Johnson. She enlists Mary Helen's help, and eventually they find him, another gunshot victim—and not the last, until Mary Helen, working with Kate and helped by a single clue, uncovers the killer. Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 10, 1998

Another sleuthing triumph for San Francisco's elderly Sister Mary Helen of Mount Saint Francis College and her Irish best friend Sister Eileen (Death of An Angel, 1997, etc.). The murder victim this time is Monsignor Joseph Higgins, pastor of St. Agatha's—a suavely elegant man with a taste for the finer things, now found dead of poison after a meeting of the parish council. Sisters Mary Helen and Eileen, delivering a loaf of homemade Irish soda bread to the rectory in honor of St. Patrick's Day, were invited by the Monsignor to join the council meeting for tea and were appalled by the tension- charged atmosphere at the table as tea and the hacked-up soda bread were handed round by surly housekeeper Eveleen Glynn. The other participants—retired professor Nicholas Komsky; alcoholic George Jenkin; bejeweled Tina Rodiman; weepy Debbie Stevens; recent widower and council treasurer Fred Davis, and parish administrator Sister Noreen—all make clear their scorn and hatred for the Monsignor, who was accused at the time of his death of using church funds for his own self-indulgence. Getting to the bottom of things takes a couple of replays of the meeting, orchestrated by Inspector Dennis Gallagher with partner Kate Murphy and accompanied by his usual bitter complaints about Sister Mary Helen's attempts to help. But help she does—eventually arriving at the crucial clue to the killer. Clumsily plotted and largely unsuspenseful but enlivened by its series of incisive character studies—and sure to please the Sister's legion of fans. . . . L¢pez-Ortega, Antonio MOONLIT: Stories Trans. by Nathan Budoff Lumen/Brookline (224 pp.) $15.95 paperback original Aug. 1, 1998 ISBN: 1-57129-057-5 A mosaic portrait of contemporary Venezuela emerges with seductive intensity, if only imperfect clarity from this first collection of 61 variously related vignettes and meditations, many scarcely a page in length. The long first section, entitled "Moonlit," gathers "stories" that seemingly re-imagine in different forms an unnamed family's experiences (particularly vacations and miscellaneous excursions) and traumas (the abduction, perhaps death, of a wife; the dangers to which young siblings are exposed; a failed artist's suicidal fantasies). The briefer "Futures and Other Times" assembles more general images of annihilation and apocalypse; and a concluding section ("Extremes") juxtaposes the family's stories against such real events as the horrendous murder of a three-year-old by two Liverpool preadolescents. One admires Ortega's concision and mastery of tone, but the opacity and redundancy also prominent in these accomplished miniatures discourages us from fully entering their dark, disintegrating world. Read full book review >
DEATH OF AN ANGEL by Carol Anne O’Marie
Released: Jan. 7, 1997

Those sleuthing San Francisco Sisters, Mary Helen and Eileen, of Mount St. Francis College (Death Goes on Retreat, 1995, etc.), are at it again—even though the fierce disapproval of Police Inspector Dennis Gallagher is seconded by warnings from the sisters' good friend and Gallagher's partner Kate Murphy. Kate's policeman husband Jack has been critically injured in a shoot-out with a rapist-murderer in the Sea Cliff area. The latest victim of the rapist, who got away, was Gemma Burke, Mary Helen's longtime friend and a generous donor to the college. With the appearance of Tilly Greenwood, an elderly Sea Cliff woman who dotes on the sullen, ne'er-do-well son who lives in her basement, the reader is made aware early on of the man's probable identity. There's another family disaster looming, just down the street, in the shabby home of obese Angelica Bowers, who works in the college library and lives with her fiendish, bedridden mother as well as with the two huge dogs who guard her. Sister Mary Helen's innocent attempt at prodding Angelica into a program of self-improvement blows up into a weird denouement that brings all the story's elements together More a chronicle of dysfunctional family relationships than a detective puzzle, but with enough chilling suspense, even so, to hold the reader's interest to the finish. One of the author's better efforts. Read full book review >
Released: Dec. 1, 1995

San Francisco's Sister Mary Helen is once again embroiled in a murder case (Murder Makes a Pilgrimage, 1993, etc.), this time while on retreat at St. Colette's in the Santa Cruz Mountains. She and colleague Sister Eileen mistakenly arrive a week early—at the start of a retreat for a group of priests headed by Monsignor McHugh of downtown San Francisco. There's plenty of room, and, encouraged by St. Colette's head, Sister Felicita, the nuns remain. That night, walking in the woods, Sister Mary Helen comes across the bloody corpse of Greg Johnson, boyfriend of Laura Purcell, who'd just quit her job as helper to sour-natured Beverly, the cook who runs St. Colette's kitchen. True to form, Mary Helen starts to poke about—asking questions, getting some input from old friend Inspector Kate Murphy of the San Francisco PD, while likable Detective Sergeant Bob Little does rundowns on everyone in residence. The retreat's guard dogs are found dead of poison, and there are odd vibes between Beverly and arrogant Sergeant Eric Loody that don't go unnoticed by Mary Helen or by Sergeant Little, who winds up with yet another corpse. Naturally, it's Sister Mary Helen who puts things right. Full of inane conversation, paeans of praise to the scenery, and coincidence stretched to unconvincing lengths: this sixth in the series is only for the author's fondest fans. Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 4, 1993

Elderly Sister Mary Helen of San Francisco's Mount St. Francis College (Murder in Ordinary Time, etc.) has won a week's pilgrimage to Santiago, Spain, sponsored by a local restaurant. Accompanied by friend Sister Eileen, she joins tour guide Pepe and the other winners on the overseas flight: Professor DeAngelo and his supercilious wife Bootsie; the earthy Bowmans, Bud and Cora; dentist Neil Fong and fitness-obsessed wife Rita; and dumpy young Heidi Williams, whose guest is Lisa Springer, her sometime best friend. Sister Mary Helen becomes aware of tensions building in the group, seemingly focused on the gorgeous Lisa, but she's shocked when, a day after their arrival, she discovers Lisa's strangled corpse in the town's magnificent cathedral. Over the next few days Mary Helen survives a series of accidents, and it becomes apparent to Comisario Angel Serrano that her life is at risk. Working with the Sisters' police friends back in the US, he uncovers a vital connection, but the puzzle's final piece is provided by Sister Mary Helen's sharp eyes. Those attuned to religious history may enjoy the colorful depiction of an area steeped in it. But the plot and characters are all but buried under fussy, repetitive details of clothes, meals, minor ailments, spats, and irrelevant chitchat. A mostly dull, overextended trip. Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 1991

San Francisco's elderly, sleuthing Sister Mary Helen is once again barging in where Police Inspectors Kate Murphy and Dennis Gallagher have begged her not to go (Advent of Dying, etc.). This time, Sister Mary Helen was among others waiting to be interviewed on a local TV news program when newswoman Christina Kelly died of cyanide poisoning, having eaten the only tainted cookie in a plateful from an unknown donor. It's soon apparent that Christina was not the intended victim, but the reader will have latched onto the murderer long before the police are led to the solution by Sister Mary Helen. Strained and tedious, padded with chitchat on menus, interior decor, weather, the Super Bowl, Catholic ritual, and the imminent birth of Kate Murphy's baby. In all: unpretentious but unrewarding. Read full book review >