The serenity of Cornwall's Convent of the Daughter of Compassion is being threatened by disquieting events that seem to have begun with the arrival of Bernadette Fawkes and Magdalen Cole. These two young women are on an extended visit to the convent, trying to decide if they want to join the order, while Mother Dorothy, the prioress, will judge if they're suited to the nun's life. Other new arrivals on the scene are Brother Cuthbert from Scotland, living as a hermit in the old schoolhouse, and an encampment of New Age travelers a few miles away. Thoughtful, spunky Sister Joan finds the convent's visitors mostly eager and complaisant, but Magdalen seems fearful, and one day Sister Joan discovers a flick knife in her possession. A string of single red roses found in odd places and sightings of an ominous bat-like figure add to an uneasiness climaxed by the bludgeoning death of postulant Sister Elizabeth. Sturdy, troubled Detective Sergeant Mill does his best, but it's Sister Joan who ferrets out the culprit and the crime's underlying motive. The tedious chronicle of daily convent routine and the usual bland characters remain unchanged, but, here, plot and motivation are livelier and more intriguing than others in the series (A Vow of Penance, 1994, etc.). For readers who like their mayhem easy, quiet, and polite.