Sister Joan, of the tiny Order of the Daughters of Compassion in Cornwall, faces the most personal of her forays into crime- solving (A Vow of Devotion, 1995, etc.). A photograph received in the mail, with no sender noted, of her first-year art class, reminds Sister Joan that the group of ten had promised to reunite in 20 years, at Westminster Abbey—the date just a few days hence. Permission granted, she heads for London to meet the others: quiet Dodie Mason, married to engineer Colin, mother of two; bubbly Fiona, still a beauty, still unattached; Barbara Ford, then a nonentity, now an elegant career woman recently returned from New Zealand; buxom Serena, two divorces later, still living on Daddy's fortune. Two men have turned up also—handsome Derek Smith, whose wife Sally died three years before in a fall, and Paul Vance, who seems to have turned from straight to gay over the years. Missing is Bryan Grimes, killed in a hit and run, and Serge Roskoff, dead of a drug overdose—his pathetic young girlfriend later found dead, her throat slit. A lot of mortality for a small group of youngish people, Sister Joan muses as she awaits the group for a week's retreat at the convent. But that's not the half of it, Sister Joan will discover, as falsehoods are uncovered, domestic lives laid bare, old crimes revealed and new ones committed. The lean narrative and vivid sense of menace are undermined, in the end, by some clunky plot and contrivances of character, but it's an intriguing puzzle a good part of the way.
Read full book review >