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Sister Mary Teresa Books In Order

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Publication Order of Sister Mary Teresa Mystery Books

Not a Blessed Thing (1981)Description / Buy at Amazon
Let Us Prey (1982)Description / Buy at Amazon
And Then There Was Nun (1984)Description / Buy at Amazon
Nun of the Above (1985)Description / Buy at Amazon
Sine Qua Nun (1986)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Veil of Ignorance (1988)Description / Buy at Amazon
Sister Hood (1991)Description / Buy at Amazon
Nun Plussed (1993)Description / Buy at Amazon
Half Past Nun (1997)Description / Buy at Amazon
Death Takes the Veil and Other Stories (2001)Description / Buy at Amazon

“Sister Mary Teresa” is a series of novels by Monica Quill which is the pseudonym of Ralph McInerny, the Philosophy professor of Notre Dame best known for the “Father Dowling” series of novels. He published “Not a Blessed Thing!” the first of the series in 1981 and then went on to write nine more in the series culminating in “Death Takes the Veil” that came out in 2001. The series feature a pudgy, eccentric but very shrewd nun named Sister Mary Teresa. She is the Mother Superior to three nuns that comprise the remnant of the Order of Mary and Martha. As Ralph McInerny, the author published a ton of works in religious and philosophical subjects and was deemed one of the leading experts on the works of St. Thomas Aquinas. At his death in 2010, he had more than 100 novels to his name. As Monica Quill, his stories were overall more quirky and fun driven as compared to his other critically acclaimed titles such as the Father Dowling mysteries.

Monica Quill asserted that he decided to take the pseudonym since he wanted to publish less serious novels while staying at the same publisher. He got interested in writing the “Sister Mary Teresa Mystery” series after he read the Rabbi Small books. According to the author he believed his publisher and readers knew how prolific he would be and hence if he wrote under the same name there would be pressure to be prolific for both series. Not wanting all that pressure, he wrote his new series as Monica Quill.

According to Quill, the “Sister Mary Teresa Mystery” series is modeled on the “Nero Wolfe” mystery series by Rex Stout. Just like Nero Wolfe, Mary Teresa the Mother Superior stays at home while her lackeys do all the work of investigating and collecting information regarding the mysteries. At the start of the series’, most of the mysteries were solved by Mary Teresa sending out her investigators and then gathering the evidence and working through it to find the guilty party. She would then gather her suspects around and declare the person guilty for whatever crime had been committed. As such, she seems more like the Nero Wolfe character Archie, though the author went from a single viewpoint to multiple viewpoints as the series progressed.

“Not a Blessed Thing,” the debut novel of the “Sister Mary Teresa Mystery” series is set in the 1980s. At the opening of the novel, Mary Teresa is introduced as a nun-like character who is in charge of her convent composed of three nuns. Sister Mary Teresa the title character is an old school nun and despite the changing times she still wears a habit unlike most modern nuns such as Sister Kim and Sister Joyce that have ditched it. She also holds very conservative views and often believes in people very easily and has a protective instinct. The mystery in the novel is about a rich woman whose life has been threatened and needs a safe place to lay low. Richard, a Chicago policeman who is also Sister Kim’s brother was in charge of recording the death threat and investigating it. He decides that the safest place for the socialite would be at the convent as the people that threatened her life would never think of looking for her there. The nuns are afraid that it might draw the killer to the convent but Mary Teresa put her foot down and lets her in.

“Half Past Nun” is one of the best novels of the “Sister Mary Teresa Mystery” series. The novel opens to Richard Moriarty, a police investigator tracking down a serial killer named Oscar that has been terrorizing the residents of the suburbs of Chicago. In the mid of the investigations, he runs into a stunning woman named Astrid that has a mysterious past but wants to write a book about the investigation and the serial killer. Against his better judgment, he agrees to work with her while Sister Mary Teresa Dempsey and her fellow nuns try to find clues to the murder mystery. It would seem that the city has become very unsafe and the nuns long for the days when the College of Martha and Mary was run by the Order. Although the convent is still deemed a safe home by the nuns, they are shocked to learn that young Mitzi Earl a visitor had been attacked just outside the walls. But the victim got a look at the face of the attacker and the deranged man afraid of being exposed followed and killed her. Since she was at the time under police protection and surveillance, the sisters have reason to be even more terrified. Things get even worse when someone attacks an alumnus of the College of Martha and Mary. Sister Mary Teresa believes there is a connections between the victims and thinks that Astrid a mysterious girl may be key to the resolution of the two crimes.

Monica Quill’s “The Veil of Ignorance” is a compelling read from the “Sister Mary Teresa Mystery” series. At the opening of the novel, Lydia Hopkins a convicted murderer has sought sanctuary at the convent. The sisters are of the opinion that she should not be let in but Sister Mary Teresa lets her in away. The sisters believe that their leader may have lost it and may not be fit to rule over them and believe she is becoming authoritarian by imposing her opinion on them. For Sister Kim and Sister Joyce, this is all going to end in tears and embarrassment of the Order of Mary and Martha. But in her head, she still has all her faculties and brushes away their concerns with her usual air of patience. Then again then Lydia goes missing and while she is away another murder is reported which makes Kim and Joyce even more wary of her presence in their convent. But Sister Mary Teresa will not be swayed as she believes that the woman she took is innocent of the charges leveled against her. Teresa is determined to do all in her power to prove Lydia’s innocence. Set in the 1990s, it provides a great perspective on the fallout among women that is just as interesting as the mystery.

Book Series In Order » Characters » Sister Mary Teresa

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