Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A Habit for Death: Review

A Habit for Death by Chuck Zito:

It looks like somebody has a real bone to pick with the nuns of St. Gilbert's College and the cast of
their latest theatrical production.  This season's show is "Convent of Fear"--a murder mystery set in a convent.  Certain staunch Catholic community members take exception to what they see as blasphemy--what with killing off nuns and having one nun renounce her vows for romance with the detective of the piece.  But why would anyone start killing off real nuns to protest the fictional murder spree?  Added to the mix is a crazy bicyclist in a yellow raincoat and red wig who has taken to running the sisters down, a vandal who tears up the stage manager's (Nicky D'Amico's) office and spray painting Bible verses on the walls, and the mob of believers who shout at the theater folk as the enter and leave rehearsals. Nicky would rather worry about stage directions and making time with with cute fellow in the chorus than to play boy detective--but with his leading woman and leading man dropping dead on stage and the homophobic State Trooper looking for ways to pin the murders on Nicky's best pal Paolo he begins to get serious about tracking down the killer.

This was a humorous and light sortof academic mystery--although the academic part is tenuous at best.  I'd have to label it a theatre mystery before I'd slot it into the academic shelves.  Nicky is an interesting character who just wants to do the best job he can on a really bad play.  But nothing is destined to go right and when his friends Paolo and Roger (feuding lovers) show up expecting him to smooth out their relationship troubles...which are much more important than murdered nuns, by the way...the humor increases two- or three-fold.  Paolo is irreverent and willing to say whatever pops into his head to whomever might be around.  Roger wants to help Nicky play detective and has the computer skills to lend a hand.

The wrap-up has the feel of a Christie plot...although, I don't think it's quite as fairly clued. An enjoyable enough mystery and good for an afternoon or two of cozy reading.  Three stars.

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