“I found this book gripping and couldn’t stop reading it.”
NO MAJOR SPOILERS
Sister Veronica Angelica discovers the body of Jamie Markham in the backyard of the Catholic Youth Hostel, a building next door to her home; The Convent of the Christian Heart. She can see from the purple marks and bruising around his neck that he’s been brutally strangled. What she doesn’t know, is that Jamie had a big secret he was planning on telling her that day; that he was the biological child of an Archbishop. It is a secret tangled up with so many layers of silencing, power and ego within the Roman Catholic Church, that its central core of corruption goes up to the very highest echelons of Catholicism.
When she finds out the truth, memories of her own childhood come flooding back, ones she’s spent years suppressing. Her whirling thoughts relive the moment she discovered her adored parents weren’t all that they seemed, that her father wasn’t really her father, that her mother had had an affair with the local Catholic priest, and that she’d been the unwanted product. Although it explained the estranged dynamic in her parents marriage, and why her father – now not her biological father – would sometimes gaze at her with a strange expression in his eyes, it had been a bitter, horrific pill to swallow. The small Catholic community they’d belonged to must never know that she was an object of Catholic shame. Never meeting her real father – he’d abandoned her mother and been transferred to a new diocese as soon as her mother announced the pregnancy – Sister Veronica had thought she was the only priest’s child in existence; an aberration, a disgrace, a mistake: priests were celibate, she shouldn’t exist. She’d spent her life trying to repent, she’d become a nun, she’d buried the shameful secret. Until now. Finding out about Jamie’s pain, coupled with his horrific murder, gives Sister Veronica the hardest most compelling motive she needs to investigate his death. It causes her to question everything she previously believed about Catholicism, and she vows she will never let such a thing will happen to anyone else. The more she investigates, the more her own pain is soothed, but she knows if she fails Jamie then she too will suffer an internal death, it is as though their pain and experiences are interlinked.
Being forbidden by Cardinal Moore to contact the police, (he is still furious at the sensationalised bad press that has surrounded the Diocese of Westminster since the public trial of Father Cuthbert for clerical sexual abuse), the nuns at The Convent of the Christian Heart are instructed to contain news of the murder because, as Cardinal Moore says, it happened on Catholic Church property therefore is a matter for Canonical Law, not judicial law, for now at least. A private team of Catholic investigators are sent in.
Sister Veronica, a secret writer of crime fiction and open lover of custard cream biscuits, finds herself pulled into a world she was only vaguely aware of; the web of sexual relationships between ordained priests and others, that exists under the demure public mask of priestly celibacy. She finds out, to her cost, that as children are often the result of these priestly relationships – living breathing examples of priests breaking their vows – the higher ranks of Catholic Church hierarchy are willing to go to any lengths to hide these children in order to protect their careers and reputations.
Fighting to find out the truth after another murder takes place, Sister Veronica is plunged into a world of manipulation, blackmail, sex, love and revenge. Trawling her way through the corruption that makes up the underbelly of Roman Catholicism, she finds the trail pointing towards the Vatican. Shocked to discover that some of the good people she knows are also immoral and dishonest, Sister Veronica slowly pulls the veil from each lie until the identity of the murderer of these priests’ children is laid bare.
I found this book gripping and couldn’t stop reading it. I absolutely love Sister Veronica, who is the amateur sleuth, her character is both lovable and formidable. I really can’t recommend this book enough, it’s an absolute page turner!
Added 2ng July 2020