OK, this is the first post of this type on the new blog site, so let me go through the whole drill. I've been reading mysteries for two purposes. I enjoy them, but I'm also studying them (sometimes by a brutal dissection) to help me learn more about how to write my own. Because of that, while some of what I say may resemble a book review, even books that I like might get a full forensic examination.
First, let me say, that I did enjoy this book. It was a nice cozy read--quick and easy reading--a good bedtime book. It was not a murder mystery, and was devoid of violence, sex, and foul language. Yes, it can be done!
I liked the quirkiness of the characters. There are some things that are going to be amusing just because a nun is doing it. A nun on a Harley. A nun on a roof. A nun at a biker bar. And the former vocations were as interesting--a journalist, a marine. And the parish priest had been a professional wrestler.
The mystery was fairly well-spun. There were enough sub-plots and red herrings to keep me guessing until the end. The characters were adequately developed, although I picked up the book in mid-series and probably missed a few things--like what the main character looks like. But then again, perhaps that she was a nun is all I really need to know.
I bought this book to help me answer a few questions. Namely, how tolerant is the mainstream mystery-reading community of a protagonist that is a person of faith? And I'm not sure I got a definitive answer.
Sister Agatha is a person sincere in her convictions, unlike many religious characters in books who are portrayed only as charlatans and hypocrites. And yet she is not a Mary-Sue. There are areas she struggles with. She is also the POV character (3rd person), so the events are filtered through her faith.
And yes, God is in the machinery. I think that is only proper. I'd go as far to say that God is a character in this book, and should probably be whenever you have a protagonist of faith. If God is real in Sister Agatha's life, if she regards His words and sees Him work in her life, how could you not include Him in the story? And how can you show the efficacy of prayer without seeing God answer it?