cover image False Witness: A Sister Agatha Mystery

False Witness: A Sister Agatha Mystery

Aimee Thurlo, David Thurlo, . . St. Martin's Minotaur, $23.95 (261pp) ISBN 978-0-312-32212-0

The pallid fourth Sister Agatha mystery from the Thurlo husband-and-wife team (after 2006's Prey for a Miracle ) piles on New Mexico smalltown color, but lacks a challenging puzzle. Agatha is an extern—authorized to interact with the outside world—for Our Lady of Hope Monastery, a small community on the cusp of financial ruin. When a drunk driver crashes his SUV into its security gate, the nuns must scramble to find the funds for repairs. Meanwhile, a hacker is disrupting the computer work the community relies upon for much of its income, and the adjacent vineyard may be sold to a developer. Salvation seems at hand when dying millionaire John Guttierez, aware of Agatha's reputation as an amateur investigator, offers her a lucrative payday if she succeeds in tracing his estranged niece. The descriptions of monastic life are compelling, but too-pat miracles and too-simple mysteries will disappoint all but the most devoted series fans. (Oct.)