A Novena for Murder by Sister Carol Anne O'Marie (1984) 232 pages
Always on the lookout for mystery series that I haven't read, I happened upon this Sister Mary Helen Mystery, and it did not disappoint. Our protagonist is a 75 year-old nun who has recently been transferred to a Catholic women's college near San Francisco. A few days after she met a history professor, he is found dead after a mild earthquake, done in by a heavy statue on his bookshelf. Sister Mary Helen, who makes the call to the police, finds herself learning all she can about the case when his death is ruled a homicide.
Sister Mary Helen's propensity to judge potential suspects by their eyes is reminiscent of Agatha Christy's Miss Marple, as is her careful reasoning, with a tiny hint of busybody thrown in for good measure. The police investigators, Kate Murphy and Dennis Gallagher are believably portrayed, as is the live-in boyfriend of Detective Murphy. The author, Sister Carol Anne O'Marie, did not shy away from depicting their home sharing without the benefit of marriage. The author has passed on, but the other 10 books she wrote in this series have caught my interest.