Scorched Grace

Gillian Flynn Bks. (Sister Holiday, Bk. 1). Feb. 2023. 320p. ISBN 9781638930242. $27.95. M
DEBUT The first novel by poet Douaihy, coeditor of Cambridge’s Elements in Crime Narratives series, features punk rocker–turned–music teacher Sister Holiday, the only chain-smoking, tattooed, queer nun of the Sisters of the Sublime Blood in New Orleans, who tends to confiscate her students’ cigarettes. She’s sneaking a smoke in the alley beside the convent when the school erupts in fire and the janitor’s flaming body drops from a second-floor window. Sister Holiday rushes in, finds two students trapped in a classroom, and helps save them. When she overhears the fire investigator declaring the blaze an arson, Sister Holiday turns investigator to expose the firebug; though she never went to college, her father was a cop, and she’s read plenty of old PI novels. Then the police rule a second death accidental, and Sister Holiday concludes that only she cares enough to find the arsonist who seems determined to shut down her small religious order.
VERDICT The first book from suspense novelist Gillian Flynn’s imprint at Zando. Sister Holiday’s violent, sexually provocative past life and her current language and behavior might be too outrageous for some readers, but the series has already been acquired for a prestige-television adaptation.
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