THE HOUR OF OUR DEATH by Alison Joseph


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A second outing for the author's chic, impulsive Sister Agnes (Sacred Hearts, 1996)--once married, long divorced, now working with friend and mentor Father Julius at St. Simeon's Church in London. She and Julius take turns visiting the sick at nearby St. Hugh's hospital and medical school. On this particular day Agnes is summoned by Surgery Professor Burgess to help with funeral arrangements for Gall Sullivan, an administrator who has died suddenly--seemingly by accident or suicide. Agnes suspects a cover-up--an idea fostered by the observations of keen-eyed elderly patient Kathleen McAleer. Thus begins a series of increasingly implausible events: a double autopsy (one in secret); several attempts on the life of genetics Professor Tom McPherson; a string of threatening anonymous faxes; Agnes's overpowering attraction to artist Alexander Jeffes, presently working on a portrait of soon-to-retire Professor Burgess; and hospital infighting over the destruction of an old medical building, an old church, and old hospital records, as a new wing takes shape. All this and more as Agnes, helped by medical student Julia Hart, uses stolen keys to snoop through pharmacy records and private correspondence--between sittings for a volatile Alexander whose own past calls for plenty of scrutiny. The author's lively, incisive, confident prose renders just bearable the overpopulated, contrived jumble of happenings conjured up here. Readers might hope that in Sister Agnes's next appearance the plot will flow half as well as the conversation.

Pub Date: April 11th, 1997
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: St. Martin's