Pelagia and the Black Monk : The Second Sister Pelagia Mystery, Paperback

Pelagia and the Black Monk : The Second Sister Pelagia Mystery Paperback

4 out of 5 (1 rating)


Sister Pelagia, bespectacled, freckled, woefully clumsy and possessed of a not very nunnish aptitude for solving crimes, returns in a tale of monastic intrigue, murder and adventure. Just as the dust from the case of the White Bulldog begins to settle in the small Russian town of Zavolzhsk, its sleepy rural existence is shaken up once again by the arrival of a desperately frightened monk who seeks the help of the bishop, Mitrofanii. The monks have been troubled by visions of a dark, hooded figure that appears to walk on the waters of the vast Blue Lake surrounding their monastery.

Sceptical of ghost stories, Mitrofanii sends first his clever young ward, then two of his most trusted advisors, to investigate the mystery.

All meet with unexpected fates. Finally Sister Pelagia takes matters into her own hands and, adopting a number of ingenious disguises, she ventures across the Blue Lake in search of answers.

As she delves deeper into the layers of secrecy that cloak the islanders, and as the body count continues to rise, Pelagia begins to realise that an encounter with a ghost may be the least of her problems...


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Orion Publishing Co
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Crime & mystery
  • ISBN: 9780753823750



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The strength of this novel lies in its minatures, those rather beautiful sketches of a host of characters. Not caricatures despite perhaps the temptation to take such flamboyant and potentially strange people and paint them brightly but sensitive, quirky, amusing and just a little sad portrayals.This quite charming book revolves around the mysterious events in the community of New Ararat; the appearance of a hooded figure has caused some unpleasantness but when the local bishop begins to send his trusted companions one-by-one to investigate, madness and chaos descend.I think that to explain further would diminish the pleasure of the reader in each new decription but suffice to say the answer isn't mystical but the means to it are intellectual and moral.Occasionally the translation feels a little clunky and if you get distracted it might be difficult to pick up the thread because it meanders in a way Russian seem particularly good at. Don't expect a fast-pace but do invent stories for the patients at the clinic.I was pleased by the way the author tied up the little snippets given to the reader throughout even when they were 'red herrings' which to me is the sign of a good mystery writer, and I also liked the touch that it wasn't solved by one person alone but for their bumbling side-kick and instead gently guided the reader to its conclusion.

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