PERIL & PRAYER (A Sister Lou Mystery)
By Olivia Matthews
PERIL & PRAYER, A Sister Lou Mystery, by Olivia Matthews is a must read for the ‘who-dunnit’ fans of the cozy mystery persuasion. Sister Louise “Lou” LaSalle is the protagonist and amateur, somewhat reluctant sleuth. She is a member of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Hermione of Ephesus. The story is set in the fictional town of Briar Coast. Sister Lou and her partners in crime (no pun intended) nephew, Chris LaSalle, who works for the college, and Shari Henson, investigative reporter for The Briar Coast Telegraph, newspaper find themselves involved in solving the murder of Autumn Tassler, co-owner of the Briar Coast Cabin Resort.
First, this story reeled me in because I love a good mystery. Second, the premise for this novel is quite ingenious. A Sister of a religious order with a keen eye of observation takes on the role of an amateur sleuth. Because Sister Lou solved a previous murder (Mayhem & Mass-Book 1) she is once again called upon to solve a murder that will clear the name of her fellow Sister, the prickly Marianna Tuller, the number one suspect. Sister Lou’s involvement is welcomed from everyone accept Deputies Fran Cole and Ted Tate of the local sheriff’s department and the Mayor. The tension between them was quite evident. You will find out why when you read the story. Third, I learned some things from reading this story that I was not aware. It’s always a plus to read a book and gain new information. Fourth, the eclectic cast of characters kept me engaged as one by one they moved from the top of the suspect list to the bottom.
On the other hand, the author’s preoccupation with detail is at times overwhelming. The colors of chair cushions, room scents, clothing, and the position of lapel pins in most cases, had very little bearing to solving the mystery. At times the attention to such details caused the storyline to drag. And what was up with that cat?
Nevertheless, I enjoyed PERIL & PRAYER by Olivia Matthews (aka Patricia Sargeant), and I recommend it. The book was a welcomed change from my usual reads, and it can be read as a stand-alone.