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A Vow of Sanctity    by Veronica Black order for
Vow of Sanctity
by Veronica Black
Order:  USA  Can
Fawcett, 1994 (1993)
Hardcover, Paperback
* *   Reviewed by Theresa Ichino

Sister Joan of the Daughters of Compassion is back. This time she has been sent on retreat for a period of meditation on a remote Scottish loch. It is also a respite for her sister nuns, whose peace of mind has been disturbed by Sister Joan's frequent brushes with murder. The retreat is high above the loch, with magnificent scenery and a remoteness that promises a chance to reflect in tranquility. However, Sister Joan is not completely cut off from human contact. Brother Cuthbert comes from the monastery that maintains the retreat, provides boat service, and helps with supplies.

Even in this peaceful place, Sister Joan's tranquility is disturbed. First she encounters a positively mediaeval distrust and fear of Catholics amongst some of the villagers. A stormy young woman (whose wild rides recall ghostly Black Morag) is both hostile and rude. Joan is also the reluctant recipient of confidences from the shop owner abandoned by her husband years ago. Most unsettling of all are the odd events at the monastery. On her infrequent visits to paint the ancient building, Joan senses a hostile anonymous observer, who is spying on her. In the crypt below the monastery, home to the mummified bodies of long-dead abbots, she finds an extra body. Before she can notify authorities, the body disappears. These and other puzzles keep Sister Joan busy, even as she strives to fulfill the goals of her retreat.

As always, the intrepid young nun finds her way. As always, she distinguishes herself by her steadfast adherence to her values. However, the lively Sister Joan is far from a stereotype. Once again Veronica Black presents an intriguing puzzle for her protagonist and a pleasant read for her audience.

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