Saturday, October 30, 2010

At The Last Supper by Sr. Christine Kresho

This review was written specifically for CatholicFiction.net: 

At The Last Supper 
by Sr. Christine Kresho

A murder mystery written by a Catholic nun? How daring could that be, I wondered when I first received this book. Sister Christine Kresho, the author's bio tells us, has a background in education and technical writing and, being a nun, an insight into the workings of the subject matter: two priests have been stabbed to death and a third is in a coma following a similar attack. It is up to Detectives Chris Coleman and Rick Russell to solve the mystery.

The story unfolds quickly when two much loved priests, very popular in their parishes, are murdered and the two detectives, one a devout Catholic, the other an agnostic, begin their investigation. Of course there is a fair amount of discussion of Faith and how it impacts their respective interpretations of the information gleaned throughout the interviews, some of which is rather surprising and even shocking. Without giving away too much of the plot I found the underlying theme to be quite a surprise and very timely. As the parishes are left without priests to minister to the congregation, the bishop employs the only solution he can in drafting a well-educated, well-loved nun as the Eucharistic Minister to fill in until a solution can be found.

We soon discover that there are two opposing forces at work in all three of the parishes whose priests were attacked. One is a group called Magdalene Witnesses, a pro-woman organization within the parishes which educates members on the role of women in Christ's life and ministry and advocates for advancing the role of women and female clergy in the Church. The other is a group known as God's Troops which is a dogmatic, fundamentalist organization with very traditional, unyielding ideas on a mission to make sure the Church stands firm in its 2000 year old beliefs and rules. All three of the priests were known to be present at meetings of the groups and all three were considered liberal, progressive men (one arguably too much so). So it is up to Coleman and Russell to figure out what role these groups and their members played in the attacks. Along the way they find themselves confronting their own beliefs or lack thereof.

The book is a typical “cozy mystery” in that there is no explicit violence or sex but some interesting twists and turns. The solution relies on the investigative powers of the detectives and there certainly are no shortage of clues along the way – as well as red herrings. Most of the characters have considerable charm and, not surprisingly, the author takes the opportunity to address a few issues at the forefront in the Church today, especially that of the roles of women.

I won't give anything away but will say that this was a pleasant read with a few surprises. If I have any complaints it would be that I would have liked to see a little more character development, especially of Sister Emily, and would like to remind the author of the first rule of writing fiction: show, don't tell. But none of that detracts from the enjoyment of reading an interesting mystery with enough spice to keep me turning the pages.  

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