Posts Tagged ‘Sister Joan’

Vow of Evil

Sister Joan is uneasy and feels something is wrong somewhere.  Then she finds some vandalism in the postulancy which is being renovated ready for new tenants to bring much needed money to swell the convent’s always depleted coffers.  Sister Joan feels it better to keep things to herself rather than upset Mother David, the prioress.  Then other strange things start to happen in the area and various people believe there is evil afoot.


Many people will pass through Sister Joan’s suspicious mind before she gradually manages to piece together a singularly unedifying series of events.  The characters are well drawn in this unnerving mystery and it is interesting to see how Mother David is developing in her new role as prioress.

I found this disturbing mystery well written and absorbing – it kept me turning the pages because I wanted to know what happened and how was responsible.  It’s a pity this is the last book in this entertaining series.

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Vow of Compassion by Veronica Black

Mother Dorothy’s godmother is having her hip replacement operation in the local hospital and Sister Joan is asked to visit her as it is her turn to do hospital visiting.  Unfortunately Louisa Cummings has died unexpectedly of a heart attack though she leaves all her money to Mother Dorothy which helps the convent’s ever depleted coffers.  Both Sister Joan and Mother Dorothy are suspicious about the unexpected death and the prioress tacitly sanctions Sister Joan’s enquiries into what really happened.


This is an interesting story in which there will be several more unexplained deaths before Sister Joan, Detective Inspector Alan Mill and Sergeant Petrie manage to work out who is the murderer.  Mother Dorothy shows her human side including a delicious sense of humour and trainee guard dog – Alice – proves that intruders may be licked to death rather than bitten.


I have enjoyed all the books in this entertaining series.  The characters are believable and the life inside the convent makes for a different background to these well plotted mysteries.  If you like your crime and mystery stories without too much on the page violence or bad language then try this series which can be read in any order.

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A Vow of Adoration (Sister Joan Mysteries)

Sister Joan finds a body while she is out exercising Lilith, the pony belonging to the Order of the Daughters of Compassion of which she is a member.  Unfortunately D S Alan Mill is away on holiday but the death is reported to Constable Petrie in his absence.


Brother Cuthbert – who has been occupying the former schoolhouse owned by the convent – has returned for a month to his monastery in Scotland.  Sister Joan visits the school house to assess the possibility of letting it while he is away and stumbles across a young woman who appears to be sleeping rough and offers her the premises for a week.


Mysterious antique dealers, young wives conspicuous by their absence, lonely houses on the moor and a ruined chapel provide the background to this entertaining mystery.  There are darker strands to this story than to some of the books in this series but it is still a relatively light read.  I found it kept me turning the pages as the strange events mounted up and Sister Joan struggled to keep her mind on her duty to God as well as a her duty as a citizen.


If you like your mysteries with an added dimension then this might be a series for you.  All of them are well plotted and worth reading.  The religious background adds something to the story though it is not overdone.  DS Mill, the main police character is agnostic and that provides a certain amount of tension which stops the religious theme being too cloying for non-believers.

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A Vow of Fidelity

Sister Joan receives a photograph through the post of her class at art school twenty years ago.  This reminds her of an agreement she had with her classmates that they would get together at Westminster Abbey twenty years from the date of the photograph.  Mother Dorothy allows Sister Joan to attend the reunion in the hope that she can also publicise the retreats which the convent is about to start hosting in an attempt to boost their failing finances.


The reunion is rather disappointing – as such events often are.  Three people are missing – two of them killed in the last couple of years in accidents and a third recently dead of a suspected overdose.  When the surviving members of the class attend a retreat at the Order of the Daughters of Compassion Sister Joan is put in charge of them.  There will be many frightening events which yet again involve the convent in crime before all is resolved.


I find this entertaining series compulsive reading and I like the religious background which gives an insight into convent life – albeit of a fictitious kind.  I like the series characters too – DS Alan Mill, who is gradually starting to understand convent rules; Alice the would be guard dog; Mother Dorothy who sees more than her nuns give her credit for; and Sister Gabriella who believes that age gives her the right to speak her mind.


If you enjoy crime stories with an interesting background and likeable characters then try this one.  The series can be read in any order but if you read them in the order in which they are published it is easier to understand the development of the series characters.  The first book in the series is A Vow of Silence.


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Sister Joan is still acting as lay sister and doing some of the cooking as well as running errands for her community – the Daughters of Compassion.  She is asked to go and collect two prospective nuns from the station.  Magdalen and Bernadette are two totally different girls and Sister Joan immediately likes Bernadette and distrusts Magdalen – something doesn’t feel right about her.


When red roses start appearing in strange places and Sister Joan has an unpleasant encounter at night things start to get frightening and everyone in the community is on edge.  Precautions are taken but worse is to come.


I enjoyed this well written mystery with its well-crafted air of evil and mounting tension leading up to the unexpected conclusion.  Here are all the series characters – Sister Hilaria, the mistress of novices, Mother Dorothy, the current prioress, Alice the would-be guard dog and DS Mill who finds any woman’s desire to be a nun totally incomprehensible.  There are plenty of touches of humour and an interesting insight into the life in a convent.


If you enjoy Peter Tremayne’s Sister Fidelma series then you may enjoy this modern day equivalent.  I find this series compulsive reading and I enjoy reading about life in a convent and how the nuns relate to the world.

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Vow of Penance


It is Lent in the convent and Sister Joan is trying to keep control of her curiosity and her desire for more interesting food when a new lay sister arrives at the convent.  Sister Joan does not take to Sister Jerome but knows she has to get on with her.  Father Malone is off on a sabbatical and his place is being taken by the dour Father Timothy who seems of a very similar character to Sister Jerome.  But what does Mrs Fairlie – the Presbytery’s housekeeper – want to talk to Sister Joan about?  Mrs Fairlie is found dead before she can tell Sister Joan what she is worrying about.


Mother Dorothy seems inclined to let Sister Joan investigate and sends her to housekeep for the two priests – Father Timothy and Father Stevens.  Soon there are more strange events than anyone might want to experience and Sister Joan finds herself torn between her Lenten observances and her duty to help the police with their enquiries. I enjoyed this interesting story and liked the way Sister Joan’s character is developing.  I also like Mother Dorothy who definitely has more to her personality than meets the eye.


The plot is likely to keep the reader guessing until all is revealed.  It is fairly clear who could be the murderer but the motive is less clear and how everything fits together – past and present – is interesting reading.  I like the way Sister Joan’s relationship with the DS Mill is progressing and it is a challenge for any author to develop such a relationship convincingly without being able to introduce the conventional love story.  Veronica Black succeeds admirably with this and the relationship is subtle and believable.

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Vow of Obedience

Sister Joan has just returned from a retreat in Scotland when she hears that the small school which she runs is to be closed.  She makes a sentimental pilgrimage to the school building and finds the body of a young girl dressed as a bride pushed into a cupboard.  Shortly afterwards another young girl is found in similar attire at the local Romany gypsy encampment.


Naturally Sister Joan is curious and she soon finds her new job as lay sister does not occupy her mind sufficiently to keep it away from the two murders.  Mother Dorothy is being very understanding and decrees that she should help the police in whatever way she can.  This is a well written and interesting mystery with its background of convent life.  I enjoyed the way the characters are being developed and I liked the way the relationship between Sister Joan and DS Mill is being developed.


If you like your crime novels with interesting backgrounds and not too much on the page violence then give this a try.  The books can be read in any order but if you read them in the order in which they are published you can watch the relationships develop and the individual characters of the nuns come to life.  The first book in the series is Vow of Silence.


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