A possible murder spices the 40 days of Lent for Sister Louise LaSalle and her cohort in the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Hermione of Ephesus.
Somebody wants Heather Stanley out of Briar Coast—somebody who’s sending her anonymous letters calling her “Outsider” and threatening dire consequences if she runs for re-election as the town’s mayor. So it’s not entirely surprising when Opal Lorrie, the town’s director of finance and management, suffers a fatal fall while she’s wearing the coat Heather loaned her on her way to a meeting with the board of education she’s attending in Heather’s place. It’s not surprising when Heather, who doesn’t think deputies Fran Cole and Ted Tate, are up to the job, begs Sister Lou, who’s already demonstrated her sleuthing chops (Peril & Prayer, 2018, etc.), to investigate. (After all, Heather is worried because “my margin of victory over Owen Rodney was very small, not even twenty percent.”) It’s not surprising when Sister Lou identifies Heather’s most intimate professional associates—administrative assistant Kerry Fletcher, chief of staff Arneeka Laguda, interim finance manager Penelope del Castillo, communications director Tian Lu —as prime suspects. It’s not surprising that the motive for the attack on Opal, and another on Heather herself, has roots in the past. And it’s also not surprising that even though Sister Lou is a sister, not a cloistered nun, she knows from Easter. Luckily, her nephew Chris’ girlfriend, Sharelle Henson, is utterly oblivious about Catholicism even though she’s a seasoned reporter for the Briar Coast Telegraph, where recently hired cub reporter Harold “Don’t Call Me Hal” Beckett is thirsting for her job. So Sister Lou has plenty of chances to explain utterly unsurprising moral concepts and religious practices to Shari and equally clueless readers.
The target audience, in fact, is clearly genre fans allergic to surprises. The whole production almost makes you forget what an almighty surprise the first Easter must have been.