|Sister Mary Jo Brunetto (known as M.J.) "definitely broke the stereotypical mold for nuns" as , aged 32 and "having inherited her Italian mother's shapely figure", she has "long dark hair and large deep brown eyes set above a straight nose coupled with high cheekbones and a broad white smile." She has the habit of uttering possible profanities such as "Oh, God, help me," but quickly saves the situation by adding the explanation, "That's a prayer."
Sister Gabriel Shmidtzer (known as Gabby) is almost 80; and fought a losing battle against having to retire from her post as Principal at St Malachi's school. She fancies herself as a detective and takes the lead in the pursuit of criminals and does not let her arthritis deter her. She is nothing if not outspoken, especially about her successor Sister Catherine whom she frequently annoys by calling plain Cate, Mama or even Saint Catherine. She does not think much of RNs (Real Nuns) as she has "spent a lot of years trying to break that mold." She is totally irrepressible.
Linda Rettstatt (1949 - ) was born in Brownsville, Pennsylvania and worked for her hometown newspaper following graduation from high school. She holds a Master's Degree in Social Work and worked as a psychotherapist then as a composer and songwriter, semi-professional musician, and nature photographer.
She has published many novels, concentrating on women's fiction and contemporary romance. She also offers editing services. She currently lives in Northwest Mississippi, not far from Memphis, with her cat Binky. The Nosy Nuns books (reviewed below) are self published novellas, and a new departure for her.
Father, Where Art Thou? A Nosy Nuns Mystery. (2015)
Father, Where Art Thou? describes how Sisters Mary Jo Brunetto and Gabriel Schmidtzer stumble upon an apparent crime scene when they discover Saint Malachi's Church unlocked and brightly lit in the middle of the night. Father Sergei Yerkhov (whom Gabby insists on calling Father Jerkoff, despite Mary Jo's warning that that's "a derogatory term"), who is a visiting Russian priest at Saint Malachi's, has gone missing and there ís blood on the handrail leading from the church. Gabby is convinced that he isn't a priest at all but is working under cover in connection with Russian mob bosses.
Ignoring the advice of Detective Cassandra Meade (an ex-pupil of Gabby's, who remembers Cass as "a bossy little thing") the two nosy nuns launch their own investigation into Irena's, the local Russian bar, to which they are accompanied by the ever helpful convent handyman Frank, although he warns them that "This is a very bad idea." But Gabby has plans for Frank too: she thinks she might be able to pair him off with Detective Cass whom, she has discovered, is also single.
Meanwhile Detective Cass tries to keep them out of trouble by suggesting that they keep an eye on what's going on in the convent. "M.J. stifled a smile. She could see what Cass was doing and was relieved it would keep Sister Gabriel occupied and out of danger. Meaning she would be out of danger, too." But it is not long before, together with other nuns, they get bound up and tied to chairs by a sinister intruder. Sister Catherine too ends up with a strip of duct tape fixed across her mouth. "This," we are told, "was the first thing the thug did that Gabby approved of."
It is written with real wit and humor, as when Gabby warns M.J., "Dress conservatively. Your endowments could get us into more trouble. You know what a lusty people the Russians can be."
M.J. glanced down at her chest, and Gabby went on, "Just don't flaunt them. Can't say what might happen in that environment if those men get a peak." Then Gabby glanced down at her chest and added, " Mine used to look like that, too, so I know what I'm talking about. But then they went south for the winter and decided to stay."
It makes a highly original and enjoyable read, with Gabby emerging as a real character.
Can I Get a Witness? A Nosy Nuns Mystery. (2015)
Can I Get a Witness tells how black ex-streetwalker Racine Booker thinks she witnesses a brutal murder in an alley the night before Halloween. She turns to her old supporters Sisters Gabby and Mary Jo for help and is offered refuge in the convent until the murderer can be captured. But Detective Cass Meade reports that no body has been found
Racine is still badly scared. She tells Sister Catherine, "That was one scary dude. Wearing one of them zombie masks. And you should have seen the size of his ...." She broke into another fit of coughing.
Sister Catherine's face coloured and she held up a hand. "I don't think I need to know ...."
Racine recovered. "Knife."
But there is much less such humor than in the previous book, and altogether too much about Racine and her problems (that are not at all amusing), and some of the jokes about the nosy nuns seem too repetitive, although Gabby does have some fun dressing up as a police detective.
It is a very short novella and the explanation of the "murder" is far from satisfying. It comes as something of a disappointment after all the fun of the first book.
The author has her own website.
Please sign my GUEST BOOK. All comments, contributions (or corrections) welcomed!
Return to CONTENTS LIST