Monday, February 25, 2019

Alibis & Angels (Sister Lou Mysteries #3), by Olivia Matthews

Kensington Publishing Corporation, ISBN 9781496709424, February 2019

Sister Louise "Lou" LaSalle , of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Hermione of Ephesus, in Briar Crest, NY, does not really like being thought of as a sleuth. Unfortunately, she has twice recently had occasion to investigate murders. Now, though, the Lenten season is about to begin, and she's really, really hoping to give up sleuthing. She means it. For sure.

Even more unfortunately, Mayor Heather Stanley is receiving threats from an anonymous stalker, who is sending her ominous threats about what will happen to her if she doesn't announce she's not running for reelection, and leave Briar Crest. When the latest threat arrives in her office inbox along with the rest of her mail, Heather is feeling enough stress that she decides to ask her finance director, Opal Lorrie, to go to a Board of Education meeting in her stead. Because the weather is bad and Opal doesn't have her car with her, Heather loans her both her coat and her car.

Later that afternoon, two Briar Crest Sheriff's deputies arrive to inform her that Opal is dead. Just a tragic accident; a fall on the steps leaving the building.

Or not.

Heather doesn't want to talk to the deputies about the threats, because she doesn't want them to become public, but they are worrying, and it's not long before she's asking Sister Lou for her help. It's not easy to persuade Sister Lou, but once she does, it's not long before Heather is being asked to accept Sister Lou's team, her nephew, Chris LaSalle, and his girlfriend, Shari Henson, reporter at the Briar Crest Telegraph.

The editor of the Telegraph is Diego DeVarona, an acquaintance and maybe-friend of Heather's from when they were both still in El Paso. Heather's time there ended badly, and she doesn't want to be reminded of it. Diego, though, is also determined to help in this investigation.

The stalker's focus on Heather is highly personal. At first it seems it must be one of her political rivals, or one of her staff, who have, obviously, the best access to her. As they work through the possible suspects and the meager evidence, though, it increasingly looks like it must be someone from Heather's past.

But who? There just don't seem to be any motives that make sense. The more they dig, the more puzzling it all seems.

Some aspects of the writing seem a little rough to me, but Matthews gives us Heather, a character who at first seems abrasive and a bit cold, and gradually makes us understand her past and her goals, and makes us care about her. She plants the clues skillfully, and more than once I thought I had spotted a likely culprit. Yet when the truth is reveals, it's a logical and fair conclusion to the mystery.


I received a free copy of this book and am reviewing it voluntarily.

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