Saturday, June 30, 2018
Death of a Novice by Cora Harrison
In this series, Harrison capitalizes on the recent and ongoing turmoil in Ireland. Reverend Mother finds the body of a young novice, Sister Gertrude, in the chicken coop. She doesn't expect a young woman to have died a natural death, but she's surprised when she learns Sister Gertrude's father recently died of the same symptoms. But, she's suspicious. When Eileen MacSweeney, a former student and a former rebel, shows up with stories of two young novices used in the rebel cause, Sister Gertrude looks to the convent for motive. However, she worries that Sister Gertrude's death could have political implications.
Reverend Mother is an amateur sleuth in the traditional style. She reminds me of Ellis Peters' Brother Cadfael, living in a religious setting, but caught up in the secular world and its crimes. In some ways, she reminds me of Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe. She does leave the convent, however, most of Reverend Mother's sources of information come to her. And, she has the stature in the community to command respect from many. Her position makes her a formidable sleuth. Add the fact that many of the young people, from a former rebel like Eileen to the newly promoted Inspector Patrick Cashman, a member of the Garda, studied at the convent school. It makes for an interesting pool of assistants.
There are historical figures present in the book, including political zealots. Harrison manages to write a traditional mystery while capitalizing on a fascinating historical period. Death of a Novice enticed me into the world of 1920s Cork. It's led me back to the beginning to the first Reverend Mother mystery, A Shameful Murder. It's wonderful to find another intriguing historical series.
Cora Harrison's website is www.coraharrison.com
Death of a Novice by Cora Harrison. Severn House. 2018. ISBN 9780727887832 (hardcover), 240p.
FTC Full Disclosure - I received the book to review for a journal.