Read Death Goes on Retreat Online

Authors: Carol Anne O'Marie

Death Goes on Retreat

PRAISE FOR THE SISTER MARY HELEN
MYSTERY SERIES

“Another delightful installment in this breezy and entertaining series of mysteries.”

—Booklist

“Sister Mary Helen handles her cases with bustling efficiency and an elfin sense of humor.”

—New York Times Book Review

“O’Marie continues her delightful Sister Mary Helen series with another suspenseful whodunit set in a seedy corner of San Francisco . . . one more entertaining . . . installment in an unfailingly cozy mystery series.”

—Library Journal
on
The Corporal Works of Murder

“O’Marie twines the strands of these disparate lives with humor and sympathy.”


Publishers Weekly
on
Requiem at the Refuge

“Another first-rate installment in an unfailingly entertaining series.”


Booklist
on
Requiem at the Refuge

“Enlivened by its series of incisive character studies—and sure to please the Sister’s legion of fans.”


Kirkus Reviews
on
Death Takes Up a Collection

“O’Marie delivers compelling characters and sophisticated plotting in her best effort to date.”


Publishers Weekly
on
Death of an Angel

“[An] excellent mystery series . . . hard to put down.”


Booklist
on
Death of an Angel

“The author’s handy mix of humor and suspense again proves irresistible.”


Publishers Weekly
on
The Missing Madonna

Also by Sister Carol Anne O’Marie

The Corporal Works of Murder

Death Takes Up A Collection

Death of an Angel

Advent of Dying

Murder Makes a Pilgrimage

Available from
St. Martin’s/Minotaur Paperbacks

Sister Carol Anne O’Marie

NOTE:
If you purchased this book without a cover you should be aware that this book is stolen property. It was reported as “unsold and destroyed” to the publisher, and neither the author nor the publisher has received any payment for this “stripped book.”

 

 

 

DEATH GOES ON RETREAT

Copyright © 1995 by Sister Carol Anne O’Marie.

All rights reserved. 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, New York 10010.

ISBN: 0-312-98529-0

Printed in the United States of America

Delacorte hardcover edition published 1995
Dell edition / December 1996
St. Martin’s Paperbacks edition / April 2004

St. Martin’s Paperbacks are published by St. Martin’s Press, 175 Fifth
Avenue, New York, NY 10010.

10  9  8  7  6  5  4  3  2  1

Dedication

I
N MEMORY OF “THE REAL
S
ISTER
M
ARY
H
ELEN
,”
S
ISTER
M
ARY
H
ELEN
P
ETTID
,
A DEAR FRIEND AND MENTOR,
WHO WENT HOME TO HER
G
OD ON
M
AY
17, 1993,
AFTER NINETY-TWO YEARS OF SELFLESS LIVING
.

M
AY
H
E BE ENJOYING HER WIT, HER CHARM,
AND HER UNCONDITIONAL AND UNCOMPROMISING LOVE
.
A
ND MAY SHE BE RESTING IN
H
IS ETERNAL PEACE
.

Sunday, June 20

Father’s Day

Day One

“We’ll be there in a jiffy!” Sister Anne took one hand off the steering wheel and pointed to the mud-spattered road sign. “Santa Cruz County. Elevation eighteen hundred feet.”

Just get us there alive, Mary Helen thought with a frozen smile. When Anne whizzed past the lonely Summit Inn, she heard Sister Eileen suck in her breath. Mary Helen was surprised. Eileen, sitting stiffly in the backseat, was always a bit of a daredevil; the sort who loved a roller-coaster ride. Apparently Anne’s driving was too much even for her.

Mary Helen tried to distract herself. Shoving her glasses up the bridge of her nose, she stared out the car window at the trees and underbrush that grew alongside the twisting Highway 17. Hoping Anne didn’t notice, she closed her eyes at the precise moment the young nun
leaned the convent Nova into yet another series of turns for the descent.

This stretch of road, through the Santa Cruz Mountains from the Santa Clara Valley to the coast, was considered so dangerous that Cal-Trans had constructed a low cement divider along most of it to prevent head-on collisions.

Despite its treacherousness, the three nuns breezed along. All the traffic seemed to be on the other side of the highway, coming back from the beach. Any cars ahead of them, Anne simply passed.

“Isn’t Vine Hill Road the turnoff?” she asked her two numb passengers. Before either could answer, a brown and gold sign proclaimed in large, bold print,
ST. COLETTE’S RETREAT HOUSE
, 3
MILES
. The arrow pointed into the hills.

Signaling, Anne made what Mary Helen considered a death-defying left-hand turn. She glanced behind her. Eileen, her soft, broad face wrinkled into a frown and her eyes squeezed shut, fingered her Rosary beads.

Vine Hill Road, which might more aptly be named “Pothole Lane,” had one advantage. It slowed Sister Anne down to a jolting twenty miles per hour.

At first, redwood and fir trees formed a dark tunnel. With bracken brushing against the car wheels, they ascended the hill until the ground at their left fell away and they looked down, much as birds might, on a valley of gigantic evergreens. The only signs of human life were a honeycomb of mailboxes set back in a clump of live oak, and a stumpy telephone pole.

Just when Mary Helen feared they were completely
lost, another small sign pointed the way up an even narrower road.

“This is just like being way out in the country.” Eileen’s words bumped up from the backseat.

Mary Helen nodded. Actually, that was exactly why she had chosen to spend a week at this retreat center. Although St. Colette’s was only sixty-five miles south of San Francisco, its brochure stressed the remoteness, the quiet, and the access to all the beauties of the redwood forest.

That and the glorious colored pictures convinced her that St. Colette’s was the perfect place for her annual retreat. She was so enthusiastic about it that Eileen decided to join her. They both needed it. The two old nuns had spent a particularly difficult academic year at Mount St. Francis College, what with their pilgrimage to Spain having resulted in a murder investigation and its aftermath back home. But better not to think of all that now.

Retreat was the time to “come apart and rest awhile.” She had chosen a quiet, beautiful spot in which to greet her God and to realize, once again, His continual, loving presence and the strength of that love.

Mentally, she unpacked her suitcase: her Jerusalem Bible, her book of the Divine Office, a well-worn copy of the Life of Teresa of Avila, hiking shoes, windbreaker, and several cotton skirts and blouses. She’d toyed with the idea of buying a pair of comfortable slacks, the kind that Sister Anne often wore. But a quick comparison of their girths cooled that notion, pronto!

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