MAYHEM & MASS
By Olivia Matthews
Sister Louise “Lou” LaSalle, a devout member of an order of sisters (not nuns—there is a difference) founded by Saint Hermione of Ephesus, is thrilled when a former colleague of hers, Maurice Jordan, is invited to be the guest speaker at the annual celebration of the founder’s feast day. Mo is a Catholic theologian whose opinions are frequently controversial, and Sister Lou is looking forward to re-connecting with him.
They arrange to have a private dinner the night before his presentation, to give them a chance to catch up. Lou becomes increasingly concerned during the meal that her old friend seems troubled, even making mysterious comments like his work may be the death of him. He also confides that he’s determined to cut back on his speaking schedule, so he can spend more time with his wife and son. When Mo fails to turn up to give his speech the following day, Sister Lou is worried that something has happened to prevent him from coming. Perhaps he’s sick—or worse? But when she goes to check on him, she’s shocked by what she finds in his hotel room. Her friend is dead, and it’s obviously murder. Sister Lou is determined to find out who’s responsible for this heinous act, despite the objections of the local police, several members of her own congregation, and the town’s mayor. But she does have some allies she calls on to help.
Sister Lou’s order founded the adjacent College of St. Hermione of Ephesus, and her nephew, Chris, is the college’s Interim Vice President for College Advancement. Chris reluctantly agrees to help his aunt find out whodunit, as does a feisty reporter for the local paper, Shari Henson.
Although Sister Lou took the vow of obedience, she doesn’t always play by traditional rules, as readers of this first-in-a-new-series will soon find out. “Mass & Mayhem” is a promising addition to the cozy mystery genre, and its protagonist is delightful!