Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Growth for Giulia
Cons: Character growth overshadows mystery at times
The Bottom Line:
Back to former life
Provides great character growth
And good mystery
The Return of Sister Mary Regina Coelis
Last year, I started several new to me series that already had several books out. And, true to form, I let new releases and other new series keep me from getting back to some of them. But I’m making some time to return to those series, which is what brought me to Back in the Habit, the second book featuring former nun Giulia Falcone.
In the eighteen months since leaving the convent, Giulia has gone to work for PI Frank Driscoll. She is slowly shedding her ways as a nun as well. And then her former life walks through the door when Sister Mary Fabian, her former Superior General, comes into the office. One of the Novices has recently committed suicide, and her parents haven’t accepted Fabian’s statements as to why. She is looking for some outside person to come in and figure out what happened.
Unfortunately for Giulia, that means going undercover and returning to her life as a nun, once again becoming Sister Mary Regina Coelis. The timing is perfect because nuns from around the country as coming for a feast day. Will she be able to figure out what happened? Or will returning to her former life be too much for her?
This is Giulia’s second mystery, and it is interesting to see her return to her former life. The contrast between her life now, which is still very sheltered, and her life back then is amazing, at least for me, and we get to see some true character growth in her. Unfortunately, it also means we don’t get to see as much of Frank or Sidney, the other main character at this point in the series, although they do get a few great scenes. Their interactions provide some of the humor in the books, so I missed that.
This book doesn’t provide a shining picture of life as a nun, but that isn’t too surprising when you think about it. Giulia left for a reason, and, like Giulia, the author is a former nun herself. Plus, this is a mystery. There has to be something shady and underhanded going on for Giulia to investigate. Having said that, the book does provide us with sympathetic characters who are nuns for the right reason and who do feel the call. I wouldn’t call it a balanced, but again, we are talking about a mystery. That’s not the point of the book.
The point of the book is to tell a good story, and it does. While the mystery isn’t a typical mystery, it is well done. I do feel that more time was spent on the character growth for Giulia than the mystery proper, but I was never bored. The book always pulled me into Giulia’s world.
The book has some funny passages as Giulia interacts with her new life and as she readjusts to her old life. However, the book has plenty of darker edges. It certainly isn’t as dark as the first book in the series, but it is darker than some part might lead you to expect. There is also more foul language than in a typical cozy.
Speaking of the first book, some of what happened in the first book is discussed here, which spoils things. Keep that in mind when you decide what order to read them in.
I’m glad I made it to Back in the Habit. Now, I need to make time for Giulia’s next adventure.
Check out all of Giulia’s mysteries in order.