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