Homicide in a quiet town summons investigative skills that a middle-aged religious never knew she had.
Sister Louise LaSalle, of the Congregation of St. Hermione of Ephesus, is worried about theology professor Dr. Maurice Jordan, her longtime friend from grad school. When Sister Lou has dinner with him the night before he’s to speak at St. Hermione’s affiliated college, she thinks he looks tired, older than his years, and definitely distressed about something, although he won’t tell her what. The next day, he doesn’t show up on time as promised, and Sister Lou learns why when she goes to his hotel room and finds him murdered. Despite the reassurance of her protective nephew, Chris, and her friends among the Sisters, Lou can’t help blaming herself: if only she hadn’t invited him to speak, Mo might still be alive. She knew he was a controversial figure in the world of academic theology, and he had many detractors, some of whom even sent death threats. Two of the local deputies start their interviews with the congregation of St. Hermione, but Sister Lou is convinced they’re looking in the wrong place. And with the eager help of journalist Shari Henson and Chris’ more cautious support, Sister Lou—for whom patience is an acquired virtue—takes time from her community outreach work for her own investigation. A conniving business partner, a couple of academic rivals, Maurice’s unfaithful wife, and her lover all come under Sister Lou’s scrutiny, even when pressure mounts from all sides to back off. The tale is bogged down by full-color descriptions of every article of clothing, item of furniture, head of hair, and pair of eyes, but the possibility of romance between two of the characters provides a pleasant foil to Sister Lou’s pursuit of the truth for the sake of her old friend.
Cozy fans will forgive the extraneous details and Matthews’ naïve style in this debut of a saintly sleuth with some very human failings.