Friday’s Forgotten Book: The Religious Body by Catherine Aird (1966)

I have recently joined a reading group @ Goodreads that is into reading detective fiction of a vintage hue. One of the books selected for January was Catherine Aird’s The Religious Body. Since Aird had been on my reading radar for long and this is the first of her Sloan & Crosby series, I jumped at the chance to read and discuss it.

The Convent of St. Anslem is perturbed. Sister Anne has disappeared. She was last seen during the communal prayer meet just before the nuns retire to bed. A search finds her lying at the bottom of the stairs of the cellar. Did she fall or was she pushed? And what happened to her spectacles? Inspector Sloan is sent to investigate the case. Meanwhile, a cousin of Sister Anne comes calling but clams up on his business with her once he knows that she is dead. The next day, boys at a nearby agricultural institute set Guy Fawkes’ effigy on fire only Fawkes is wearing a nun’s habit and spectacles. Then there is another murder. The cloistered world of the nuns is not safe from the wickedness of the world outside or is there a cold-blooded killer within the convent?

The setting of the mystery was the highlight of the book to me. The convent with its regulated life, its monotonous, unchanging pattern, the decision of the women to cut-off their worldly ties, changing their names…. found it all fascinating. The mystery too was pretty decent. I couldn’t guess the murderer despite the fact that Aird waved such a huge clue in front of me. Very skillfully done. I liked the team of Sloan and Crosby but it is actually Superintendent Leeyes with his arithmetic and logic who became my favourite amongst the police officers.

Eagerly looking forward to reading the second in the series and meeting with the officers once again.

Have you read this and/or other books in the series? What do you feel about it/them?

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First Line: Sister Mary St. Gertrude put out a hand and stilled the tiny alarm clock long before it got into its stride.

Publication Details: 1966. NY: Open Road Media, 2015.

Series: Sloan & Crosby #1

Other Opinions: At the Scene of the Crime; The Bookwyrm’s Hoard; Classic Mysteries; Fan Girl Nation; A Fondness for Reading; I Prefer Reading; I Wish I Lived in a Library; Mike Finn’s Fiction; My Reader’s Block; Mysteries Ahoy!

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Submitted for Friday’s Forgotten Books at Todd Mason’s Sweet Freedom.

17 thoughts on “Friday’s Forgotten Book: The Religious Body by Catherine Aird (1966)

  1. I love this series although have not reread this one for many years. Sloan is such a sweetie. I think I read them out of order because A Most Contagious Game is my favorite and the one I read first. It features Nicholas Owen who is such a favorite in my family that my godson was named for him!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Welcome to the blog, CLM. So interesting that your godson was named after a character in a novel. You have made me so curious about Nicholas Owen. Hope I get to that book fast.

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  2. Neeru, really happy to see you in Reading the Detectives. I enjoy their selections though I’ve been a little inactive lately because of work commitments and a recurrence of computer troubles. But I am reading Fear Stalks the Village and the Inspector French book.

    So glad you enjoyed this one. I couldn’t secure a copy but have read a later one in the series, The Stately Home Murder which I enjoyed a lot. Like you I too liked Sloan and Crosby and do want to read more of the series.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Mallika, it seems like a wonderful group and I was happy to see your name in it. I have read Fear Stalks the Village but am reading the Inspector French book and really enjoying the police-procedural. Hope the computer troubles get resolved and you are able to blog once again. Keen to know what you make of the two books.

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  3. Great minds think alike! I just read Catherine Aird’s STIFF NEWS and will be posting a review of it in a week or two. I enjoy Aird’s snarky characters and her humor. I have a dozen more Aird books on my shelves and I hope to read them in 2022.

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  4. though when I’ll get to it is a mystery…

    Don’t know when you’ll be able to hear this novel, FF, but right now I hear you loud and clear. So many book, so little…..😆

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  5. I cannot believe I haven’t commented on this yet, Aird is one of my favorite authors. I read this one in 2005 and then did not get back to the series until 2013 when I was blogging. I still have only read 6 in the series, need to find my copy of Parting Breath, #7. I plan to read A Most Contagious Game next, the one that Constance mentioned. I think that one is a standalone, not in the series.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Doesn’t matter when you comment, Tracy. I am just thankful that you visit the blog and share your views. Aird seems to be a well-liked author. Glad to know that A most Contagious Game is a stand-alone, it means I can read it without worrying about the series order. But now to find it😃

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