by Geraldine Evans
Blood on the Bones is the 9th book in British author Geraldine Evans’ Rafferty and Llewellyn cozy mystery series and I found it a very absorbing read. This is a crime novel with depth and substance, which exchanges cheap thrills for some very meditative ruminations on religious faith and doubt, spiced with a bit of wry humor and some wicked plot twists that made me laugh out loud. A body has been discovered buried in the gardens of the Carmelite Monastery of the Immaculate Conception. Detective Inspector Joseph Rafferty, a lapsed Catholic of long repute, is assigned to the case and finds himself confronting the demons of his own harsh Catholic upbringing. As Inspector Rafferty follows the tangled clues in the case, he finds himself confronting his own religious and spiritual yearnings. Is a spiritual awakening on the horizon or even a full re-conversion to his Catholic past? Hardly likely for the astute, acutely rational Rafferty. But then one never knows. This case is bringing to the surface more questions than the simple ‘whodunit’. I thoroughly enjoyed the read and appreciated Geraldine Evans’ quiet restraint in avoiding all sensationalism. She has managed to combine some serious reflections on religious themes of doubt and faith and the abuses of a repressive religious system together with a crackling police procedural that is both funny and shocking at the same time. Speaking as a former Trappist monk, I can say that her characterizations of the nuns in this contemplative order are spot on! Philosophical reflections, shocks and laughs all blended smoothly together in one crime novel. That’s quite a feat. I’ve now started the 3rd book in the series, Death Line, about a famous psychic, adviser to the stars, who fails to predict his own grisly murder. The author had me laughing by the second page! Well done!