Sunday, April 11, 2010

MURDER MAKES A PILGRIMAGE by Sister Carol Anne O'Marie

Sister Carol Anne O'Marie's cozy mystery novels are just that--well-written traditional cozies in the line of Father Brown and others. And so it is with 1993's Murder Makes a Pilgrimage.

Sister Mary Helen and Sister Eileen of Mount St. Francis College go on another of their pilgrimages, this time to Spain's Santiago de Compostela, supposedly the resting place of St. James.  

I took St. James to be the apostle, the brother of John, though there are other saints named James.  According to tradition, these old apostles often end up migrating to and being buried in strange, far off places.

On the current trip, someone murders a pilgrim. The murderer has to be one of the other pilgrims.

As the nuns remember Chaucer's pilgrims (including the prioress and her murderous anti-Semitic tale), they set about to solve the murder.

The murderer stages several "accidents" which almost do in Sister Mary Helen.  

Mary Helen and Eileen end up calling back to their police friends in the states for information, so the story involves many of the usual characters.  

In other words, this is a typical Sister Mary Helen cozy, and maybe it is one of the better-written and more interesting ones at that.

I read the book as an interlude.  We were traveling, and I picked up a cheap paperback from my to-be-read stack.  If I lost it or dumped it in a river (though I didn't plan to go near a river), it wouldn't matter.  It would have been easily replaced.

And I enjoyed the book, as I always do with Sister Carol Anne O'Marie.    I can't say I read the book word-for-word (Read here--"He skipped some parts..."), but, still, I enjoyed the characters and the story.

And, as always, the author's well-disguised clues help the two nuns solve the mystery.

I don't really know much about the author, Sister Carol Anne O'Marie, except to know that the biography in this book says that by the time she wrote this book in 1993 she had already been a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet for fifty years.  At the time of the book, she ministered to homeless women at a daytime drop-in center in downtown Oakland.  She co-founded the center in 1990.

Anyone with a biography like that deserves to have her books read.

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