We tend to think the clergy have relatively quiet, peaceful, non-eventful lives. These sleuths prove that idea wrong.
Harry Kemelman – You first meet Rabbi David Small in Friday the Rabbi Slept Late. He is in a small town in Massachusetts, young, happily married, a bit absent-minded when buried in a book, disconcertingly honest and a “scholar” – meaning he is trained in Talmudic reasoning. He can figure out events using logic. Think of him as a charming, likeable Sherlock Holmes.
Ellis Peters – Brother Cadfael is a Benedictine monk in 12th century England. The books are excellent historical novels. Brother Cadfael solves crimes through his understanding of humanity and the ability to sense truth. He is helped by his friend, Hugh Beringar, the sheriff. Although not the first, The Potter’s Field is an award winner and a good introduction to the series.
Julia Spencer-Fleming – The 2001 Malice Domestic Award went to In The Bleak Midwinter. It takes place in upstate New York, during the cold winter. A baby is left on the church doorstep and a young mother is murdered. Episcopal priest Clare Fergusson, an ex-army helicopter pilot, and Police Chief Russ Van Alystyne, who was formerly a military policeman, must solve the crime. The chemistry between the two is wonderful.
Monica Quill & Ralph M. McInerny – Under the name Monica Quill, McInerny writes a series about three nuns, Sister Kim, Sister Joyce and Sister Mary Teresa. It is Sister Mary Teresa who actually figures out the mystery while Sister Kim does the leg work. Not A Blessed Thing! Is the first in the series. Under his own name, Ralph M. McInerny writes the Father Dowling series, the first of which is Her Death of Cold. This was the more enjoyable, to me, of the two series; both of which take place in Illinois.
Boris Akunin – Sister Pelagia is a nun, in Russia, during the late 1800’s. Her Bishop describes her as a “walking disaster with freckles”. Nevertheless, he and Sister Pelagia manage to be great sleuths. Recently translated into English, there are three Sister Pelagia books so far, the first is Sister Pelagia and the White Bulldog.
William F. Love – If you are a Rex Stout fan you’ll enjoy Love’s series featuring Bishop Regan and his assistant, Jewish detective Davey Goldman, in New York City. They are Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin, my favorite duo, in disguise. Start with The Chartreuse Clue, which was a finalist for two “Best First Novel” awards. There are only four books in the series. I wish there were more.
.Sharon Kahn – Ruby Rothman is the Rabbi’s widow. I wish she were a real live person and lived in my neighborhood! She is 46, a red-head with green eyes, wears a size 14 and describes herself as having a “bizarre sense of humor”. The first book in the series is Fax Me a Bagel. Ruby is part owner of the Hot Bagel deli, in Eternal, Texas, where a customer drops dead after eating a cyanide laced bagel.
Alys Clare – Clare has brought into being two wonderful characters, The Abbess Helewise and the Knight Josse d’Acquin. The time is the late 12th century, just as Richard the Lionheart is about to become King, in England. A young nun, from the Abbey, was found apparently murdered. Richard dispatches his knight to find the truth of the matter. They first come together in Fortune Like The Moon.