Holy rocambole! The nuns at St. Theresa's are fighting tooth and nail over the candidate for abbess and the fate of the abbey. The issues evenly divided between the Sisters of the Holy Heart, who are content to sit on the $7 million bequest they got from the Laney Foundation and tend their harvest of rocambole garlic, and the Sisters of St. Agatha, who have been moved to St. Theresa's from a Texas conference center and want to use all that Laney cash to turn the abbey into another hot spot. The race between garlic-loving Sister Gabriella and conference center manager Sister Olivia will be determined by a majority vote. But attorney-turned-herbalist China Bayles, visiting the abbey to retreat from the hectic world and look into some suspicious fires and accusatory anonymous letters while she's in retreat, wonders if the deaths of pioneer Laney legatee Mother Hilaria and ailing old Sister Perpetua aren't the work of somebody who's trying to gerrymander the election. A cryptic note in Mother Hilaria's diary reads, ``Sr. A, letter. Questioned Sr. R & Sr. O,'' clearly refers to Sister Olivia, but which is Sister R--Rose, Ruth, Rachel, Rosabel, Rosaline, Rowena, Ramona, Regina, or John Roberta? And can China unglue herself from her one-time squeeze Tom Rowan, now managing St. Theresa's trust fund, long enough to dope it out? The unsentimental look at convent life makes up for the near-invisibility of China (Rosemary Remembered, 1995, etc.). But not even Albert's way with a telling phrase can bring all those Sister R`s to life.