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.
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