Life-giving miracles counterbalance Clark’s usual turn toward velvety death-dealing menace (Just Take My Heart, 2009, etc.) in this tale of a pregnant nun’s tangled legacy.
Two generations after she gave away the child she bore soon after entering the convent, and one generation after her death, Sister Catherine Morrow is back in the news. An ecclesiastical court has been convened to determine whether preliminary steps should be taken to recommend her for sainthood. Certainly Sister Catherine’s life was exemplary. In recompense for the child she lost, she founded seven children’s hospitals, and it’s possible that prayers to her banished little Michael O’Keefe’s brain cancer. As the proceedings advance, however, darker currents emerge. Catherine’s sister Olivia is strangled to death, a day before she was going to reveal to pediatrician Monica Farrell that Catherine was her grandmother. Olivia’s old family friend and physician, cardiologist Clay Hadley, is clearly joined in a criminal conspiracy with Greg Gannon, who’s been plundering the foundation started by his late uncle Alex, the love of Olivia’s life, with the proceeds from the prostheses he invented. Monica’s tiny patient Sally Carter is being sorely neglected by her flighty mother Renée. Scott Alterman, the Boston attorney who had the effrontery to court Monica while he was married to her best friend, has divorced and come to New York to press his suit. And someone’s hired a hit man to kill Monica. The story of Sister Catherine’s maybe-miracles offers a welcome counterpoint to Clark’s more familiar types: the imperiled young professional woman, the equivocal detective, the womanizing wastrel, the loyal employees who exist only there to move the plot forward.
So many conspirators that the unmasking of the biggest villain is a distinct anticlimax. Until then, however, it’s a pleasure watching the slow grinding of well-oiled gears as the unsurprising outcome looms.