Cristina Sumners, Author . Bantam $23.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-553-80303-7

While the autumnal suburban street scene on the dust jacket of Sumners's winning debut suggests peace, serenity and tea at the rectory, the opening chapter with its gruesome murder scene proves otherwise. When housewife Grace Kimbrough goes missing in the affluent university town of Harton, N.J., Tom Holder, overweight 40-something police chief, seizes the opportunity to recruit the Rev. Dr. Kathryn Koerney, a professor at Harton's renowned seminary and associate of St. Margaret's Episcopal Church—anything to have contact with the pretty, witty priest and a respite from his worse-than-bad marriage, if only in his fantasies. For her own reasons, Kathryn agrees to help, and the two sleuths begin an investigation that will uncover the closely guarded secrets of several townspeople as well as secrets of their own hearts. Spunky 10-year-old Tita Robinson, who has recently become fascinated with Nancy Drew, guides Kathryn and Tom to a dramatic conclusion, though veteran crime readers may find the solutions to the various mysteries obvious. Graduates of New Jersey's only Ivy League university and others familiar with the Princeton area will relish the picture of Harton, while fans of ecclesiastical cozies will delight in Kathryn, whose lecture on lust and contact with others is intelligent, bold and refreshing. (Nov. 5)

FYI:Like her heroine, the author is a teacher and an Episcopal priest.

Reviewed on: 09/16/2002
Release date: 10/01/2002
Mass Market Paperbound - 336 pages - 978-0-553-58430-1
Hardcover - 397 pages - 978-0-7540-8951-3
Hardcover - 397 pages - 978-0-7540-8952-0
Hardcover - 397 pages - 978-0-7862-5121-6
Open Ebook - 171 pages - 978-0-553-89710-4
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