Sister Pelagia and the Red Cockerel
Random House, Aug 11 2009, $15.00
St. Petersburg's Chief Procurator of the Holy Synod is outraged with the behavior of Sister Pelagia; he questions whether she should be allowed to wear the veil. Not long after her censuring, Sister Palagia is sailing on the steamboat Sturgeon when someone kills Manuila, the messianic leader of the Jewish sect Foundlings. Though she knows she should keep her opinions to herself she offers advice to the Inspector Dolinin.
Not long after Manuila was murdered, someone tries to kill Sister Palagia several times before she flees Russia and heads to the Holy land where she continues to investigate the homicide on board the Sturgeon. While she is in Palestine, back in Russia friends and foes debate the merit of Sister Pelagia who continues her sleuthing instead of doing her sisterly duties as befitting a bride of Jesus.
The third Sister Pelagia amateur sleuth (see SISTER PELAGIA AND THE WHITE BULLDOG and SISTER PELAGIA AND THE BLACK MONK) is a super historical although there is a lot less detecting than in the previous entries. The story line is fast-paced as the heroine has to get out of “Dodge” (at least St. Petersburg) because she is unable to investigate freely why someone wants her dead and the church leadership wants her banished. Her adventures in the Holy Land continue as Sister Palagia cannot resist a mystery. Fans of the saga will relish Boris Akunin third late nineteenth century thriller as Tsarist Russia and Palestine come alive though the beleaguered nun’s eyes.