Thursday, August 13, 2020

Nun Too Soon (#1st Giulia Driscoll mystery) by Alice Loweecey

Nun Too Soon (Giulia Driscoll #1)

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Nun Too Soon (1st Guilia Driscoll Mystery) by Alice Loweecey

ISBN-10: 1940976650 -  Paperback $15.

Publisher: Henery Press (September 10, 2014), 280 pages.  


Giulia Falcone-Driscoll has just taken on her first impossible client: The Silk Tie Killer. He’s hired Driscoll Investigations to prove his innocence and they have only thirteen days to accomplish it.

Talk about being tried in the media. Everyone in town is sure Roger Fitch strangled his girlfriend with one of his silk neckties.

And then there’s the local TMZ wannabes—The Scoop—stalking Giulia and her client for sleazy sound bites.

On top of all that, her assistant’s first baby is due any second, her scary smart admin still doesn’t relate well to humans, and her police detective husband insists her client is guilty. About this marriage thing—it’s unknown territory, but it sure beats ten years of living with 150 nuns.

Giulia’s ownership of Driscoll Investigations hasn’t changed her passion for justice from her convent years. But the more dirt she digs up, the more she’s worried her efforts will help a murderer escape.

As the client accuses DI of dragging its heels on purpose, Giulia thinks The Silk Tie Killer might be choosing one of his ties for her own neck.


I"m embarrassed by the delay in posting a review of Alice Loweecey's Nun Too Soon. It is 5 years since the book was published and I'm only now talking about it.

 I do want to say that after I read Nun Too Soon, I immediately wanted to know what other adventures Giulia Driscoll got herself into. I ended up ordering the other books that same week and following Alice Loweecey's posts on Facebook...

So, this is a review of Nun Too Soon but also of the Giulia Falcone-Driscoll novels. I admit that I'm mysteries and cozies are among my favorite books. In Giulia Falcone-Driscoll, Alice Loweecey has created a heroine with humor, drive, spunk and a unique disconnect that comes from spending much of her young adult life in a convent. 

When we encounter Giulia, she's mustered up the courage and determination to leave her old life. at considerable sacrifice. Leaving behind life as Sister Mary Regina Coelis, Giulia also finds that she has limited funds and no family support. She has to navigate modern life after spending much of her young adulthood in a convent. The small things take getting used to but Giulia does so with grace, humor and grit. I found myself caring and rooting for her immediately.

My own fondness for nuns might be unusual but it comes my mother's continued friendship with the nuns that taught her in high school. These nuns were daring, funny, open minded and introduced a love of literature and learning to my mother and her friends. So, when Giulia shows spirit, daring and humor as she runs a new detective agency I can imagine the frustration and excitement. 

In Nun Too Soon, Giulia hasn't just left the convent but she's found love, married, and has begun her career as a private investigator. Giulia has had some success at this point and the Diocese trusts her to investigate their private business. Even before the mystery begins we know Giulia is competent, discrete and a reasonable/supportive boss. Giulia's employees are Zane whose previous work experience was with a large accounting firm that drilled into him the requirement that he work constantly and under pressure. Giulia's kindness and sympathy as she encourages Zane to work less endears her to me. Zane's opposite number is Sidney, a highly competent, athletic blonde administrative assistant. The office dynamics and humor are another fun part of the story. 

A lawyer hires Giulia to investigate the strength of the case against his wealthy client accused of being a serial killer. The accused specifically asked his lawyer to hire Giulia because she's "the opposite of those old-movie detectives" and "in charge, but not pushy or bitchy or too masculine." Giulia doesn't expect the investigation to become personally dangerous - and we root for her as faces a dangerous opponent. 

About the Author:

Baker of brownies and tormenter of characters, Alice Loweecey recently celebrated her thirtieth year outside the convent. She grew up watching Hammer horror films and Scooby-Doo mysteries, which explains a whole lot. When she's not creating trouble for her sleuth Giulia Driscoll or inspiring nightmares as her alter-ego Kate Morgan, she can be found growing her own vegetables (in summer) and cooking with them (the rest of the year).

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Anne Perry's A Question of Betrayal (An Elena Standish novel #2)

A Question of Betrayal by Anne Perry

A Question of Betrayal (Elena Standish novel #2) by Anne Perry 

ISBN-10: 0593129555 Hardcover $28.

Publisher: Ballantine Books; 1 edition (September 8, 2020), 304 pages. 

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The blurb: Britain’s secret intelligence service, MI6, has lost contact with its informant in northern Italy, just as important information about the future plans of Austria and Nazi Germany is coming to light. And young Elena Standish, to her surprise, is the only person who can recognize MI6’s man—because he is her former lover. Aiden Strother betrayed her six years before, throwing shame on her entire family. Now, with so much to prove, Elena heads to Trieste to track down Aiden and find out what happened to his handler, who has mysteriously cut off contact with Britain.

As Elena gets word of a secret group working to put Austria in the hands of Germany, her older sister, Margot, is in Berlin to watch a childhood friend get married—to a member of the Gestapo. Margot and Elena’s grandfather, the former head of MI6, is none too happy about the sisters’ travels at this tumultuous time, especially when a violent event at home reminds him that even Britain is growing dangerous. As his own investigation collides with his granddaughter's, what’s at stake on the continent becomes increasingly frightening—and personal.

Against the backdrop of a rapidly changing Europe, New York Times bestselling author Anne Perry crafts a novel full of suspense, political intrigue, and the struggle between love and loyalty to country.

My review:

I've long been an avid reader of Anne Perry's novels. This latest series with Elena Standish is engrossing and deeply satisfying. 

Elena Standish had a privileged upbringing as the daughter of a prominent diplomat. Among her father's posts had been Berlin and Paris and their family is well received throughout. In her own nuclear family, Elena is a bit of an ugly duckling, less appreciated and constantly overshadowed by her glamorous older sister Margot and her father. It takes Elena's grandfather Lucas to see the extent of her strengths and intelligence. 

Lucas had similarly been undervalued by his diplomat son until Lucas's secret professional life had been revealed. Lucas had been in charge of MI6 and his granddaughter Elena Standish had previously been an agent. Drummed out of MI6 after a disastrous and ill-advised affair with an older double agent, Elena Standish has tried to rebuild her life. 

Elena is known for her photographs and it is under the guise of travel photography that her former boss at MI6 asks Elena to travel to the Continent and make contact with her former lover, the double agent who might have been loyal all along. There is great risk as Hitler's reach has penetrated greater aspects of German and Austrian society. There is the possibility that even in Great Britain there are supporters and sympathizers that are willing to aid Hitler to avoid another war. 

Elena finds herself pushing her personal feelings and reactions aside to search for and make contact with an old and treacherous lover. Her skill with languages and observation make the difference for Elena but it is unsure whether she will be able to evade a dangerous enemy and if she can trust the man whose life she is sent to save.

Meanwhile Lucas Standish is approached by a former colleague, similarly retired from MI6. There are unusual money transfers hiding a fund that may be used for one of Hitler's organizations. But to have such reach inside MI6 indicates a grave danger to Great Britain and to world peace. When his old friend is found dead, Lucas and his wife the former codebreaker come out of retirement to search for answers. 

A Question of Betrayal captures the closeness between Elena and her grandfather Lucas and the competitive relationship between Margot and Elena while building the elements of a wartime mystery/thriller. I couldn't stop reading A Question of Betrayal!

About the Author:

Anne Perry is the New York Times bestselling author of two acclaimed series set in Victorian England: the William Monk novels and the Charlotte and Thomas Pitt novels. She is also the author of a series featuring Thomas and Charlotte Pitt’s son, Daniel, including Triple Jeopardy and One Fatal Flaw; the new Elena Standish series, beginning with Death in Focus; five World War I novels; eighteen holiday novels, most recently A Christmas Resolution; and a historical novel, The Sheen on the Silk, set in the Ottoman Empire. Anne Perry lives in Los Angeles.