Saturday, June 23, 2018

Peril & Prayer by Olivia Matthews

If you didn't meet Sister Lou (Louise) LaSalle in the first mystery in the series, Mayhem & Mass, there's no reason you can't pick up the second cozy. Olivia Matthews gives enough backstory in Peril & Prayer to make it easy for a new reader to pick up the book. Sister Lou is a strong, determined character, driven by her faith and a willingness to serve the small Briar Coast, New York community.

After the previous murder investigation, Sister Lou promised her nephew, Chris, that she wouldn't get involved again. But, Sister Marianna is enough to make anyone consider murder. The confrontational sister even argues with resort owner Autumn Tassler over a menu. There's a reason Sister Barbara, the prioress, put Sister Lou on the retreat planning team. The Congregation of the Sisters of St. Hermione of Ephesus will hold their Advent retreat at Briar Coast Cabin Resort. Or, they'll hold it there if Sister Marianna can stop fighting with Autumn. Sister Lou has to step in to offer compromises.

When Autumn is murdered, two disgruntled deputies target Sister Marianna for the crime. Despite her promises, Sister Barbara asks Sister Lou to investigate. Chris' boss at the college, Sister Valerie, asks him to step in and investigate because the murder inquiry bothers some of the college donors. And, reporter Shari Henson's boss at the newspaper puts her on the story, but warns her to try to get along with the sheriff's department. Shari has to take deep breaths and learn from Sister Lou's example. The murder brings the trio of amateur sleuths back to investigate. Sister Marianna may have a temper, but Sister Lou thinks Autumn's ex-husband's second wife, her cousin, or her business partner might have motives.

We all have pet phrases we tend to repeat too often. Better editing could have caught a few of Matthews' repetitions. But, Sister Lou and her friends make up for the overuse of descriptions and phrases. They're a likable group of characters who are still getting to know each other. While Shari hides her past from an inquisitive Chris, Sister Lou has a few quirks too. She drives her car too fast, and has accumulated a few tickets, but she still yearns to drive a sports car. She runs five miles six days a week with a fellow sister, and speeds up when she's troubled. But, she's a determined sleuth. She's determined to find justice for the victim, and peace for the community.

Matthews second Sister Lou mystery, Peril & Prayer, might be appreciated by those who enjoy Christian or Amish mysteries. Or, try it if you're a fan of Murder, She Wrote.

Olivia Matthews' website is

Peril & Prayer by Olivia Matthews. Kensington, 2018. ISBN 9781496709400 (paperback), 368p.

FTC Full Disclosure - I received the book to review for a journal.

Note: Once the religious, nuns and sisters, started wearing street clothes, it didn't come as a surprise to know they jog. However, I'm showing my age by saying nuns still wore long habits when I first started at the Catholic school, and I was shocked, just shocked, to learn they went swimming.


Liz said...

Left query on Goodreads. Sorry for duplication. How does this series compare to that of Sister Carol Ann O'Marie?

BPL Ref said...

I read the first one. I liked a lot about it-- setting, characters-- but I thought all the colors were going to drive me up a wall. Every one seemed to have a very specific eye color, for instance, which was repeated over and over: onyx eyes, cocoa eyes, ice blue eyes. There was a red brick purse that was always a red brick purse no matter how often it appeared. I'm with you on the editing. But I did like the idea and the characters.

Lesa said...

No problem, Liz. I don't know. I haven't read the Sister Carol Ann O'Marie mysteries.

Lesa said...

Yes, there were a few odd habits - what kinds of clothes they always wore, eye colors, etc. I seldom notice eye color, unless eyes are very vivid in one shade or another.

Liz said...

O'Marie was the author, as well as a nun, who wrote a series about a sleuthing nun.

Sharon said...

I read the first one of these but did not find it special enough to continue on. I did like the Sister Carol Ann O'Marie mysteries many years ago. But I really loved Sister Agatha in Jane Willan's book.

Lesa said...

That's the series I need to try, Sharon. With Sister Agatha.

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