cover image Death of a Novice: A Reverend Mother Mystery

Death of a Novice: A Reverend Mother Mystery

Cora Harrison. Severn, $28.99 (240p) ISBN 978-0-7278-8783-2

Early in Harrison’s workmanlike fifth whodunit set in 1920s Ireland (after 2017’s A Gruesome Discovery), Reverend Mother Aquinas is devastated to find the body of 22-year-old Sister Gertrude, a promising new member of her convent, in a hen shed. When the doctor who examines Sister Gertrude deems her a victim of alcohol poisoning, the reverend mother considers that verdict ludicrous and resolves to discover the real cause of death. Meanwhile, another novice, Sister Catherine, claims that Sister Gertrude was extorting two other novitiates, who regarded Sister Gertrude as insufficiently patriotic and spoke of killing her. A prologue reveals that a ruthless Sinn Fein leader has been using two nuns to further his cause, raising the likelihood that Sister Gertrude was murdered. Harrison’s vivid recreation of the turbulent period when most of Ireland gained independence from Britain compensates for a solution that’s not up to her usual high standard. Agent: Peter Buckman, Ampersand Agency (U.K.). (July)