Sister Eve

(creator: Lynne Hinton)

Sister Evangeline Divine (known as Sister Eve) has, when we first meet her, been a Benedictine nun for some 20 years, and is based at our Lady of Guadalupe Abbey in Pecos, New Mexico which historically housed both monks and nuns but now there are proposals to make the nuns move out - a decision which 40-year-old Sister Eve finds very hard to accept. She seems to enjoy remarkable freedom for a nun, still being able to ride her Harley motorbike into town and, having pushed "for a facility for stray animals for years", being allowed to keep up to four pets herself!

She has no difficulty in obtaining prolonged leaves of absence either, during which she has to ponder whether her future lies in being a nun or a detective (she has "a good nose for crime"). (Are there any similarities here to the writer's own position, as she herself had to decide whether to stay as a church minister or become a writer, or both?)

She had hoped that "being a monastic would help with her weaknesses, tame her temper, and keep her wilful spirit at bay. She did not, after all, want to turn into her father", with whom she had a difficult relationship over the years. Although she had given "her heart to Christ and herself in service to others", she was very far from being a conventionally submissive nun.

Lynne Hinton was born and raised in North Carolina. She attended Wake Forest University and is a graduate of UNC-Greensboro. She also attended NC School of the Arts, School of Filmmaking, and graduated with her Masters of Divinity from Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California. She is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ and has served as a hospice chaplain and as a senior pastor in Guilford County and Asheboro, North Carolina and in Rio Rancho, New Mexico and as the interim pastor in Northeastern Washington.

She is the author of numerous novels, including the NY Times Bestseller, Friendship Cake and The Art of Arranging Flowers. She also writes under the names of Lynne Branard and Jackie Lynn. She now lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico with her retired husband, and is working again as a minister.

Sister Eve Private Eye (2014)
Sister Eve Private Eye sees Sister Eve two decades into her calling in the Benedictine Order at the Monastery in Pecos, New Mexico,
when her daily routine is broken when a police officer appears, carrying a message from her father, a long retired police captain turned private detective. Captain Jackson Divine (pronounced Diveen, as he and Eve repeatedly have to tell people - a process that gets increasingly tedious) is a diabetic and needs her to return home and help him recover from the amputation of his foot and part of a leg.

She soon finds herself helping him not only to adjust to his new prosthetic leg, but with his latest case. A Hollywood director has disappeared, and the (not too convincing) sultry starlet he's been running around with isn't talking. When the missing man turns up dead ("a torso and two legs could be seen where the snow was starting to melt"), it escalates into a full-blown murder case, and Eve find that she enjoys working on it. But can she reconcile this with her vocation? It certainly gives her "a dose of excitement she hadn't felt at the monastery". But why, one wonders, had it taken her 20 years to realise what she had been missing?

Eve makes an interesting, if not always entirely convincing, nun (she little misses her life at the monastery), but the murder plot is not as strong as it might be (the very short chapters tend to be rather confusing), more attention being devoted to Eve's relationship with her father. The result is that there is little action and much less interest in the second half of the book. The solution lacks any real sense of drama, and none of the ten questions in the "Reading Group Guide" that the author has seen fit to include at the end of the book refers to the murder! It is as though even the author does not take it too seriously.

The Case of the Sin City Sister (2015)
The Case of the Sin City Sister describes how Sister Eve Is encouraged to take another leave of absence from the convent to help her PI father with a bit of detective work on the grounds that it "fulfills you"! But something else troubles Eve. It's been weeks since she heard from her sister, Dorisanne, So she sets off to find her in "sin city" - Las Vegas, Nevada, a trip that takes up most of the book. Late-night visits to the casino and some clever clues hidden in an address book set Eve on a trail that soon reveals that Dorisanne's life is darker and more complicated than she ever expected. But by the end of the book, Eve (who has been a nun for "more than twenty years") still hasn't decided whether her true calling is to be a nun or a detective!

Despite getting off to a muddly start, this has a stronger storyline than the previous book, but it gets increasingly slow-moving, although some excitement builds up towards the end when Eve tracks down Dorisanne and races off on a stolen bike and has to hide in a morgue. The most interesting parts, though, concern Eve's improving relationship with her determined, sometimes cantankerous, father, who tells her, "If you love being a nun, then be a nun; go back to Pecos and be about the things that bring you peace. But if you don't love being a nun, if you don't want to be in Pecos, if you love this work, love being a detective, then you can say it's me and my diabetes or my old lungs keeping you here, but we both know that's not really the truth." A good question for the Reading Group Guide that the author includes in the end of the book might be, "Is this really a credible situation?"

Sister Eve and the Blue Nun (2016)
Sister Eve and the Blue Nun describes how Sister Eve still has to decide whether or not to leave the religious life now that her monastery is no longer allowed to include nuns along with the monks. She returns to her old convent for a two-day conference but soon finds that she can put her gift for solving murders to good use as she confronts yet another mysterious death.

Someone has poisoned Dr. Kelly Middlesworth who had been researching the life and ministry of the 17th-century's revered "Blue Nun" who was said to have "bilocated" more than 500 times as she appeared simultaneously both in her home convent and to the Jumano Indians in New Mexico. In addition a set of irreplaceable historic documents have disappeared before they could even be examined. When all evidence seems to point to Sister Eve's old friend, Brother Anthony, the victim's brother, Eve sets out to expose the killer and learn the secret of the missing manuscripts.

It makes a slow moving but interesting story, enlivened by the way that Sister Eve seems to be falling for one of the police detectives. The most tedious part is when Sister Eve sets on a long and strangely unexciting car journey in pursuit of the supposed killer, but then she herself "experienced an amazing miracle" when a trail of vibrant blue wildflowers showed her where to go. And, when her life was threatened, she felt enveloped in an "embodiment of love". Hence the question, one of ten at the end of the book, "What do you think she will choose to do?"

The author has her own website, and there is an interesting interview with her on the Faith and Leadership site.

Please sign my GUEST BOOK. All comments, contributions (or corrections) welcomed!


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