Frances Finn
Created by Gerelyn Hollingsworth

Holy Moley! Former Catholic schoolgirl and current Kansas City P.I. FRANCES FINN specializes in reuniting family members separated by adoption. In her one appearance to date, 1995's Murder at St. Adelaide's, she's summoned to the small-town convent boarding school she attended by the elderly Mother Superior, who wants her to look into the death of a nun nearly thirty years earlier. Frances decides to humor the old woman, but when Mother Celeste is brutally murdered, it's clear that there's more going on than she suspected.

I've checked Amazon, and neither the hardcover nor the paperback is still available. (This is where an uncharitable person might well add, "And with good reason!")

To say I didn't enjoy this book is putting it mildly. The characters weren't likable. Frances herself was okay, but she was, well, I'll have to invent a word here, uncredible. (Yes, un-, not in-. This is a woman who is supposedly a professional, yet she returns to the haunts of her youth and starts acting like a giddy schoolgirl again. AND (and this is a BIG "AND") the writing itself is, sorry to say, bad.

Far too often, Frances goes into lengthy, over-detailed explanations of things. Or gets bogged down in the trivia of her life, rambling on and on about things that just don't matter. I don't think we really need to know every single insignificant move Frances makes. And she seems to suffer from an amazingly short attention span:

"Investigating means asking questions. No one's going to answer my questions. What if I went up to Tom Ross and said, 'Just out of curiosity, I'm wondering if you snuck into Mother Celeste's bedroom, carried her out on the porch, and dropped her fifteen feet to the sidewalk'? He might get mad. You saw how he was last night. I'd be too scared if he came at me like he did to Sharon. I was afraid he was going to slug her. I've got to get home. I'm running out of clothes."

Sheesh!!! Is this about the most inane paragraph you've ever read? First, she worries that if she accuses someone of murder they might get mad. Get mad?? Not that if he is indeed the murderer, he might try to kill her, too? Then she turns around and says she has to get home because she's running out of clothes! Is it just me? Am I being too critical here? When I read this, my jaw actually dropped.

And it really bothered me that Frances seems to consider the whole thing a lark. At one point she actually says "Even though I would
be investigating a suspicious death, I would be on vacation." Does this sound like the kind of thing someone who owns a detective agency (and who has an actual, paying client) would be saying?

I mean, if she doesn't take the job seriously, why should we be expected to take her seriously?

Author Gerelyn Hollingsworth, a former native of Kansas City, Missouri, now lives in St. Louis with her husband and son. Since the front of the hardcover's dust jacket proclaimed that this was a Frances Finn mystery, it seemed like this was to be the first of a series, but I've checked the online catalogues of several libraries, and can't find evidence of any other fiction by this author. The only other book I can find by her is a non-fiction called Ex-Nuns: Women Who Have Left the Convent.



Respectfully submitted by Nathalie Bumpeau.

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