Book Review: Shadow of Death by Alison Joseph

A gentle mystery with a nun as the unlikely heroine. A bit unorthodox – you don’t expect nuns to be out having meals at expensive restaurants hosted by their friends; Sister Agnes works in a run down area of London. She has been asked to help sort out the Order’s library before the building (shared with an NHS day centre for the mentally ill) is closed down. 

The piles of scruffy Victorian tracts and lives of the saints have little interest for her – whearas the seventeenth century Hawker archive with its collection of books on magic plus hand written journals are much more intriguing. The journals tell the story of the building’s former owner Alice, her husband Thomas and their child who died in infancy. 

Agnes soon discovers that Alice’s story is not finished, and seems to have links with what is happening today. Is the building haunted? Then a mother attending the centre is murdered on Agnes’s doorstep, and her young child goes missing along with a novice of the order. Who is hunting the child? What are the links with an American evangelist and his following? Why is the Hawker Archive being targeted by burglars? Agnes is determined to find out.

Action moves at a steady pace throughout the book, with new twists and turns constantly appearing.  An undemanding read with an unusual setting.

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