Vintage £7.99 (214pp) from the Independent Bookshop: 08430 600 030
The Convent, By Panos Karnezis
The Convent of Our Lady of Mercy, a hilltop fastness located in a remote part of the Spanish sierra, is the setting for this unusual ecclesiastical whodunit.
In the 1920s, only six nuns still inhabit the convent, contentedly following a regimen of solitude and contemplation. But life is to alter when a baby boy is found abandoned on the convent steps.
While Mother Superior Maria Ines is determined to keep the infant - she invents a special formula milk and sleeps with him at night - the other sisters aren't so convinced. Sister Ana regards the child as the spawn of the Devil, while Sister Carlota is more interested in fostering stray dogs.
A persuasive and winning storyteller, Karnezis's clerical mystery proves less of a whodunit than a whose-does-it-belong to.
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