Friday, September 26, 2008

Friday's "Forgotten" Books - Lee Harris' The Good Friday Murder

Lee Harris, who is really Syrell Rogovin Leahy, published the first Christine Bennett mystery, The Good Friday Murder, in 1992. Although the last couple books in this series have been much weaker titles, this first title introduced an interesting character and a fascinating series.

Christine Bennett was a nun. In this first book, she's left the convent, after fifteen years, half her life, and moved into the house she inherited from her aunt. She also "inherited" her beloved cousin, Gene, who lives in an institutional home that he loves. It's because of Gene that she takes on the first investigation she's ever done, trying to clear a pair of retarded savant twins, who are now senior citizens, of their mother's murder on Good Friday years earlier.

I've always had a hard time describing Harris' Christine Bennett mysteries. The seventeen books in the series, with titles ranging from The Christening Day Murder to The Cinco de Mayo Murder are more complicated than most cozies. Christine always uses her knowledge of human character to delve into family mysteries that are involved. They are usually cold cases that have occurred years earlier, but still affect a family.

It's a pleasure to watch Christine change in the course of the series, from a thirty-year-old woman just out of the convent, and very insecure in the outside world, to a mature wife and mother. I always bought the new Lee Harris title the minute it came out, and saved it. These are books that have helped me through hospital waiting rooms, and difficult times. Christine Bennett was a character to reach to for comfort, both in her books, and, for me, in my troubles.

Start with The Good Friday Murder. Don't let the books by this very special author be forgotten.

The Good Friday Murder by Lee Harris. Random House Publishing Group, published 1992. ISBN 9780449147627 (paperback), 199p.


Barrie said...

Sounds great. Love the premise.

Lesa said...

They are great books, Barrie. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

This is a really good choice for your Friday book, Lesa. I read it years ago and just never picked up the second in the series. I need to do that.

We were having a discussion at my mystery group meeting Thursday night about long-running series and story depth or quality after so many. It was quite interesting. Sort of like what we were talking about with Faye Kellerman's latest.

Lesa said...

That would be an interesting discussion, Kay. Wish I'd heard it, particularly to hear everyone's comments about which series have gone on too long.

Thank you! I love this series, even though it has been weak at times. But, the early books are outstanding. And, people who read it really seem to remember The Christening Day Murder, with its submerged town.

Like me, though, I'm sure you're busy keeping up with newer series, and it's hard to go back and start a long-running one.

Lesa said...
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