One of two extern nuns in the Our Lady of Hope Monastery in hot, humid New Mexico, Sister Agatha links the cloistered order with the outside world, a world that includes her high school boyfriend, now sheriff, Tom Green.
When Father Anselm comes one Sunday to celebrate Mass it seems like any other Sunday, until he collapses and dies while consecrating the Host. Tom suspects murder, and though Sister Agatha's loathe to believe that anyone within her community could kill, she fears he may be right.
Between keeping the Antichrysler (their run-down station wagon) running, working in the scriptorium to garner funds vital to keeping the monastery going, and helping Reverend Mother determine whether their postulant and novice ought to be ordained, Sister Agatha investigates Father Anselm's death, drawing on skill she hasn't needed for a long time, skills she developed in her previous life when she was Professor Mary McNaughton, a journalist and lecturer.
The Thurlos do an admirable job of weaving details about Sister Agatha's cloistered life with the main plot of the novel. The sub-plots, which involve the mysterious appearances of a large dog into an apparently locked compound, Tom's relationship with his shrewish wife, ever-dying computers, and the acquisition of a Harley with side car, compete with somewhat clumsy chunks of exposition about Sister Agatha's past. The characters are under-developed and often inadequately described, and the energy between Tom and Sister Agatha is a little odd, but despite these flaws Bad Faith is an absorbing read - the main mystery is involving, the details about everyday cloistered life were fascinating, and Sister Agatha's strength of commitment to the Church and God were far from pious and really refreshing.
There were enough loose ends for me to look forward to the next in the series, where hopefully more will be revealed - Alex