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Authors: Carol Anne O'Marie

Murder at the Monks' Table

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Murder
at the
Monk's Table

 

Also by Sister Carol Anne O'Marie

 

The Corporal Works of Murder
Requiem at the Refuge
Death Takes Up a Collection
Death of an Angel
Death Goes on Retreat
Murder Makes a Pilgrimage
Murder in Ordinary Time
The Missing Madonna
Advent of Dying
Novena for Murder

Murder
at the
Monks' Table

 

 

Sister Carol Anne O'Marie

 

 

 

 

Thomas Dunne Books
St. Martin's Minotaur
New York

 

 

 

THOMAS DUNNE BOOKS.
An imprint of St. Martin's Press.

 

MURDER AT THE MONKS' TABLE.
Copyright © 2006 by Sister Carol Anne O'Marie. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews. For information, address St. Martin's Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10010.

 

www.minotaurbooks.com

 

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

 

O'Marie, Carol Anne.

Murder at the Monks' Table / Carol Anne O'Marie.—1st ed.

p. cm.

“A Sister Mary Helen mystery.”

ISBN-13: 978-0-312-35767-2

ISBN-10: 0-312-35767-2

1. Mary Helen, Sister (Fictitious character)—Fiction. 2. Women detectives—California—San Francisco—Fiction. 3. Nuns—Fiction. 4. Catholics—Fiction. 5. Americans—Ireland—Fiction. 6. Galway (Ireland : County)—Fiction. 7. Festivals—Fiction. 8. Bars (Drinking establishments)—Fiction. I. Title.

PS3565.M347M86 2006

813'.54—dc22

 

2006040365

First Edition: June 2006

 

10   9   8   7   6   5   4   3   2   1

For Eva Eulalia Benson,
born on July 26, 2005.
Your arrival has brought us
great joy!

 

and

 

Congratulations to
my niece Noelle Benson
on her marriage to
Ryan Sullivan!
February 25, 2006
We thought you'd never ask.

Acknowledgments

 

 

T
hank you to all who helped and supported me in researching and writing this mystery. I am especially grateful to Sister Maureen O'Connor, former provincial superior, who made my trip to Ireland possible, and to Sister Maureen Lyons, who accompanied me there, helped me get settled, and then filled in for me at my “real job” with homeless women at A Friendly Place. Thanks, too, to Connie and Lee Poldino, who met us early on and brought a touch of home.

I am most grateful to my dear “old” friends, Christina Decker, Jean Walker Lowell, Cynthia and Joe Kelly, and Eileen and Jack Shea. They came to visit and generously showed me much of the magic and magnificence of the west of Ireland.

A special thanks to my sister, Kathleen; my nieces, Caroline and Noelle Benson; and Ryan Sullivan. They arrived with the
energy, enthusiasm, and sense of adventure that only they can bring.

Thank you, too, to Brenda Morrissey and her family and the Sisters of Charity in Clarinbridge for their hospitality during my stay in their village.

I am also grateful to Sister Kathleen Kelly, who arrived at the end of my stay to help me pack up and come home, and to Mary Elena Dochterman, who gave me my first experience flying business class.

I cannot thank Steve Danko enough. When my completed manuscript disappeared from the computer, he generously offered to retype it and make the corrections. Without him, I'd still be staring at an empty screen and crying.

Heartfelt thanks go to Rosalie Kelly (may she rest in peace) for her helpful critiques over the years and to Mary Rock, who checked the manuscript for all things Irish.

I appreciate the members of my writing group, Margaret Little, Jil Plummer, Vlasta Turko, Greta Cox, and Ann Damaschino. They listened to my manuscript for months and made many valuable suggestions.

I am grateful to my local community, Sisters Barbara Flanner, Ann Maureen Murphy, and Maureen Lyons for their never-ending interest and encouragement.

Finally, I'd like to thank my agent, Dominick Abel, who has stuck with me all these years. I am convinced that he is the best in the business!

Murder
at the
Monk's Table

 

Friday, August 29

 

 

May
the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be ever at your back.

—Irish blessing

 

T
he long black hearse came speeding out of the driveway, nearly careening into the hackney.
Don't tell me this is going to be one of those days,
Sister Mary Helen thought, grabbing the car door handle.

“Cheeky get!” she heard the driver mumble. Then, realizing that she might have overheard, he added a quick “Sorry, Sister,” turning full around to check her reaction.

“Maybe he's late,” she said, wishing the driver would keep his eyes on the road, especially since he was driving on the opposite side, which, of course, wasn't the opposite side here in Ireland.

Ireland,
she thought, closing her eyes and wondering if she were dreaming. Her eyelids felt sandy. Why wouldn't they? It was four o'clock in the morning, San Francisco time. And she'd had little sleep since her friend, Sister Eileen, had called less than a week ago, inviting her to come.

“Late for his own funeral!” The driver laughed. “That's a good one, Sister. But if you want to know what I think, I think it is one of his boyos on his way to pick up the pearl of the festivities, the Oyster Queen. Her da owns the funeral parlor. Probably why they chose her,” he said, “comes with her own grand car.”

The Oyster Festival! Until last week Mary Helen had never heard of the event, but then Eileen had called with the sad news that her sister Molly, whom she had gone to County Galway, Ireland, to nurse through her final illness, had died. Eileen's nieces and nephews were so grateful for her help that they insisted on treating their aunt to a holiday before she returned to her convent in San Francisco. The Oyster Festival was in County Galway, so why not attend that? As an added surprise, they had purchased a ticket so that her good friend, Sister Mary Helen, could join her.

“What about my work at the homeless center?” Mary Helen had asked when Eileen called with the invitation.

“Glory be to God, old dear, you're a volunteer! If the truth be told, you are actually retired. What's the point of being retired if you can't go off once in a while for a little fun?” Eileen asked, and then added as if it were news, “Life is short.”

Mary Helen's recent brushes with murder had, if anything, made it clear to her just how short a life can be. So here she was.

Looking out the car window, she watched the green fields and stone fences slipping by. Enormous clouds blew across the bright sky.

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