Spunky Bay Area nun Sister Mary Helen and her sidekick, Sister Eileen, return for an eighth outing, this time investigating the poisoning death of a monsignor.
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Sister Carol Anne O'Marie has been a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet for the past forty-five years. She ministers to homeless women at a daytime drop-in center in downtown Oakland, California, which she co-founded in 1990. Death Takes Up A Collection is her eight novel featuring Sister Mary Helen.
On a San Francisco St. Patrick's Day, Sister Mary Helen and Sister Eileen are delivering soda bread to Monsignor Joseph P. Higgins of St. Agnes in the Sunset District. The nuns find Higgins in a tense parish council meeting, and the next day he is dead from poison. The sisters are drawn into the case since they were among the last to see Higgins alive. This eighth Sister Mary Helen novel offers vivid characters, light humor, and great views of San Francisco. Inspectors Kate Murphy and Dennis Gallagher are strong foils to the nuns; Gallagher's bluster and insight suggest an updated Lieutenant Phil Pevsner from Kaminsky's Toby Peters series. Many of the other series set in San Francisco are considerably more hard-boiled than this one, but Susan Dunlap's Kiernan O'Shaughnessy novels perhaps best capture O'Marie's spirit. John Rowen
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