This book is classed as a mystery/thriller- which indeed it is-but it is so much more than that-it is a thriller with a difference and it is that difference that makes it stand out.It is full of action,intrigue and suspense-and yet it has to be one of the funniest and most off beat books I have read.
From the sub title,Sister Madeleine Investigates ,you could be forgiven for thinking our heroine was some kind of sleuth - nothing could be further from the truth- this is a nun with attitude and her investigation is very much hands on.
She is called away from the convent where she has been taking refuge from her colourful and dangerous past and goes to LA to take care of the affairs of an ex colleague,who has left his fortune to her, following his suicide,an event which is dramatically described at the beginning of the book.The organisation to which they once both belonged is now a force for evil and past members are being mysteriouisly killed.Madeleine knows that her own life is in danger but remains undeterred.Her task is to find the Executive Codes which are in danger of falling into enemy hands.
The suspense is heightened as we are given insight into the efforts of another ex colleague,now under the influence of the evil force, who is trying to save his own life by finding the Codes for his leader,the Grinning Assassin.
At her benefactor's mansion Madeleine meets with many hazards and mysterious events- the disappearing room, strange sounds and tremors under the house- and becomes involved in many terrifying situations.
Humour is never far from the surface and if you are familiar with the author's other books about his TV series,Gullible's Travels etc you will not be disappointed on that count.
At the beginning of the book our introduction to Sister Madeleine's convent is a vision of a buggy with an elderly nun inside, being drawn not by horses, but by two novice nuns!The convent is founded on the teachings of St Winifred of Judea who,we are told.was canonised in 1925 "despite intense opposition from mainstream religious groups who branded her as a Christ pesterer" This theme crops up throughout the book and is responsible for much of the humour.
Humour runs alongside the action too.Madeleine's combat moves have such inventive names as Fellini's Mother's Demi Tasse Lunge and her favourite expressions are " Holy saints in aspic" and "Sanctus Victus Tractus."To her horror she discovers that her benefactor has been running a pornographic publishing company and she finds books with such titles as Hot,Horny and Going Straight To Hell!
The author makes good use of simile and metaphor in his descriptions which are brief and to the point,for example "Foreboding crept up Madeleine's spine like a November mist on a Cornish beach" Then he coins such expressions as " ten minutea tortoised by"The characters are well described and brought to life.
In conclusion this a thrilling mystery that keeps us on our toes right to the end and has the added attraction of being extremely funny and inventive making it that much different from the norm.Well worth a read.