A second case of murder nearly as close to home as her debut (Mayhem & Mass, 2017) gives Sister Louise LaSalle another chance to show off her sleuthing chops.
When the 63 Sisters of St. Hermione of Ephesus put out a request for bids for their annual retreat, the lowest price came from the Briar Coast Cabin Resort. It promises to be a great event if only Sister Marianna Tuller, whom prioress Sister Barbara Yates has put in charge of the arrangements, will drop her commendable ascetic insistence on inedibly healthful meals for the whole event. Sister Lou doesn’t relish her position as the person who has to keep coming up with compromises in Sister Marianna’s negotiations with Briar Coast principal owner Autumn Tassler. But matters get much worse when Autumn is choked to death in her office early one morning, throwing much more than the retreat plans into disarray. As even short-tempered Sheriff’s Deputy Ted Tate acknowledges, there are oodles of suspects with strong motives for killing Autumn. Her cousin January Potts is convinced that Autumn is breaking the sixth commandment with her husband, Sherrod Potts. Her ex-husband’s pregnant wife, Isabella Fortney, wants her to stop accepting alimony. Her minority partner, Rita Morris, is salivating at developer Montgomery Crane’s offer to buy the resort, which Autumn insists isn’t for sale. And her accountant, Gary Hargreaves, is convinced that someone’s embezzling from the company. With so many juicy possibilities, Tate and his partner, Fran Cole, naturally zero in on Sister Marianna, who certainly has the right temperament and who left a scarf behind in the office that may have been the murder weapon. So Sister Lou, joined again by her nephew Chris and reporter Shari Henson, resolves to clear Sister Marianna’s name despite the accused sister’s best efforts to direct the investigation herself.
Despite some pointed dialogue between right-minded people who happen to disagree about important matters, there’s very little here to disturb readers’ faith or their mental repose.