OUT 27 Jan 2021
Faced with darkness could you find the light?
An innocent victim.
A wicked crime.
A killer on the loose.
Meet Sister Veronica Angelica, a secret crime fiction writer and lover of custard cream biscuits.
When she discovers a dead man in the grounds of the Catholic Youth Hostel, a building next door to her Convent, she can see he’s been brutally strangled.
What she doesn’t know, is that Jamie had a secret he’d been about to confess. Being forbidden by the Cardinal to contact the police, the nuns at The Convent of the Christian Heart are instructed to contain news of the murder.
As Sister Veronica tries to uncover the truth, another murder takes place, plunging her deeper into the mystery. But when her investigation raises more questions than answers, will Sister Veronica be able to solve the case without attracting the killer’s attention?
Something different in the murder mystery genre as we meet Sister Veronica – nun, secret crime fiction writer and amateur detective – in this first crime novel from Sarah Sheridan.
It sounds like quite the cosy crime fiction but this story is more hard hitting than that.
Sister Veronica Angelica is a nun at The Convent of the Christian Heart situated in Soho, London. Along with her duties in the convent she works at the Catholic Youth Hostel next door to the Convent but when she’s not praying, working or carrying out her duties she can be found in her room writing crime fiction stories and eating custard cream biscuits.
There’s lot’s going on alterations to the Youth Hostel means builders are in with all the mess and noise that brings! Also, a young journalist, Melissa, is staying at the Convent for a week reporting on ‘life as a nun’. Sister Veronica is meeting with Melissa for an interview – there is something more to her piece than meets the eye. It’s just as well Veronica has her secret world to go to!
However, her secret activities soon become very real when she goes to work at the youth hostel and finds a body. A young man, Jamie, who is staying there has been killed. Just as she is about to report the murder the Cardinal along with Father Mathers – who Sister Veronica is not too keen on – turn up. Issuing orders not to report the murder to the police the Cardinal says that it is a matter for canon law.
Sister Veronica has her own relationship with God she has long felt that some of the issues within The RC Church raise questions which are not properly investigated or answered. Her own history is a prime example of that. Then her conversation with Melissa about Jamie and that very issue – the children of a religious parent – ensures that Sister Veronica will not rest until she discovers what has been going on and who killed Jamie.
As Veronica, with Melissa’s help, continues to dig into what is happening she realises there are very bad, evil forces at work. Sister Veronica gets a tip off that she is to be ‘sent away’ so, with some trepidation and much fortitude, she and Melissa set off to France.
This book gives a fascinating insight into the numbers of children that are born to a Nun or Priest, what being the child of a Priest or Nun may mean – rejection, secrecy; what that can feel like – isolation, feeling different and, yet, how common it appears to be. How these liaisons/relationships are viewed and dealt with by the Church. It touches on the child abuse cases. All of this leaves a deep sadness, a futility, an acrimony along with an understandable feeling of abhorrence towards the Church which has historically dealt so badly with these issues. However, there is a sense of hope given through the characters in the book, not least Sister Veronica, and of a goodness within the Church.
Added to the murder of Jamie and the connection to the children of religious storyline there is also a financial issue that comes to light. Sister Veronica investigating has put a dark chain of events into play which places her in a very dangerous situation. As the story moves from Paris to Rome this becomes a real issue and as the action moves along, the pace ratchets up and the tension is palpable. With more murders, a kidnapping and a devastating discovery this book packs a punch and keeps you totally engrossed.
I really enjoyed this book, the character of Sister Veronica, the uniqueness of the story is captivating and I look forward to reading Sarah Sheridan’s next book.
With many thanks to Maria Slocombe, Publicity & Social Media Manager, Bloodhound Books for the invite to read and review The Convent by Sarah Sheridan and for the eBook.
Published: Bloodhound Books (27 January 2021; eBook and Paperback – ISBN-10 : 1913942201|ISBN-13 : 978-1913942205)
If you pre-order the eBook it is currently 99p – such a bargain.
Sarah was born in London and now lives in a village in South Northamptonshire. She gained a Masters degree in Eighteenth-Century French and English art from the Courtauld Institute of Art, before teaching art in secondary schools for thirteen years. After working with human rights organisations that protect minority groups from institutional abuse, Sarah worked towards a PhD at The Open University, researching the effect of secrecy on marginalised people, specifically the biological children of Roman Catholic priests. She has spoken about her research on various news programmes for the BBC and other media outlets around the world. It was this sense of secrecy and silencing that became the inspiration for her first crime novel, The Convent.
Sarah is hugely obsessed with reading and is amassing such an unrealistically large book collection that some of it is now in storage. She is also addicted to writing, and after inventing stories (mostly in secret) from a young age and having various articles and short stories published, she wrote a children’s book, The Top Secret Diary of Davina Dupree – inspired by her daughter – in 2013. Overjoyed to hear that young readers were enjoying the story, she went on to write a series about Davina Dupree.
When she is not looking after her three children and menagerie of pets, or going for long walks with her wonderful partner Rich, Sarah can be found writing, while consuming large amounts of chocolate.
The Convent – out now.| The Disciple – coming soon.
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