Mother Celeste, the superior at St. Adelaide's Convent School in Braddock, Kansas, never liked Frances Finn when she was a student there. So now that Frances is a private detective in Kansas City, why has dying Mother Celeste called on her to make an announcement about the 30-year-old death of Sister Barbara Ross, who apparently killed herself just after returning from the convent's new mission in Guatemala? Mother Celeste, who wants Frances to tell Sister Barbara's friends and relatives that Barbara was murdered without saying by whom, tells Frances the killer was someone Celeste saw sneaking out of her room before dawn. But Sister Sharon Bieralski, Frances's beloved old teacher, says she was the person Celeste saw, and she never killed Barbara. By the time Barbara's dysfunctional family weigh in with their opinions--her domineering father insists the whole thing is a mare's nest; her recessive mother thinks Barbara killed herself to avoid being committed to a mental hospital; her twin brother, a priest, says Sharon is the killer--the accusations are so muddled that it's almost a relief when Celeste is picked up from her deathbed and flung off her terrace to the pavement below, and the focus shifts to the long-ago history of her dysfunctional family. Frances isn't much of a detective, and this isn't much of a mystery. But newcomer Hollingsworth does make St. Adelaide's secrets sinister enough to satisfy the most jaundiced of anticlerical souls.