Who is Sister Agnes?
A contemporary nun, Sister Agnes lives in an open order, based in London.
She has a tiny flat in Southwark, and she does whatever work the order
thinks fit — whether that's working in a hostel for homeless young
people in Southwark, teaching at the order's boarding school in Yorkshire,
or working as a prison chaplain. Agnes is half French (her mother was
French, her father Anglo-American). At an early age she made a wealthy
but unfortunate marriage to a violent man. When she fled from him, she
became a nun. Her life still tends to be full of conflict as she struggles
with the restraints of religious life. She has taken vows of poverty,
chastity and obedience, and yet she loves fast cars, designer clothes
and good food. More than anything, obedience does not come easily to her.
The Quick And The Dead
working in the hostel for young homeless when Sam — one of their
female residents, who had just turned sixteen — runs away. Agnes
feels responsible because Sam's case team had been trying to return her
to her family. Furious with the authorities, Agnes tries to track her
down. She finds Sam living at an anti-road protest camp at the edge of
Epping Forest, delighted with her new home, her tree-top house and new
friends. But only hours after Agnes arrives at the camp, a body is found
in the woods. It is Becky, one of Sam's friends, and she has been brutally
murdered. Agnes's suspicions are further aroused when the man claiming
to be Sam's birth father reappears in her life, having been absent for
the last fourteen years, and tries to persuade her to come and live with
him. Agnes feels she must protect Sam from further danger. But who killed
Becky? And will they come back for Sam?
A Dark And Sinful Death
been sent by her order to Yorkshire, to teach in their expensive convent
boarding school. One night Agnes is called to the art room, where she
finds Joanna Baines, the art mistress, surrounded by black paint and desecrated
paintings. The next day a young man, Mark Snaith, is found murdered on
the moors, his face horribly mutilated. The man Snaith worked for is William
Baines, owner of Allbright's mill, still one of the main employers in
the area. When Agnes visits him, he denies knowing Joanna Baines with
a vehemence that astonishes her - especially since she is certain he is
The Dying Light
Agnes has never felt the need for a wimple to express her spirituality. But her strength is tested by her secondment to Silworth, a South London women's prison. She does, however, find the work compelling, as she attempts to negotiate the network of bullies and victims, loyalties and hatreds, prisoners and jailers, searching to understand the often violent histories that lie behind each woman. Then the father of Cally Fisher, one of the most turbulent inmates, is shot dead... the chief suspect Cally's boyfriend. And — reminded unnervingly of how she is losing her own mother, who is rapidly retreating from reality in a French nursing home — Agnes finds that she too has become entangled in a dark world that stretches further than the prison walls...
Many of the following novels will be republished as ebooks in the coming months.
The Night Watch
Surely the whole point of golf is that it's difficult to know where the ball will go. So it's highly unlikely that, when an errant golf ball hits Matthias Kavanagh in the head causing a fatal riding accident, someone actually intends to kill him. But Sister Agnes Bourdillon can't help thinking that his death is the result of foul play, especially when she learns that another rider was injured in a similar incident only days before. Reason tells Agnes she's wrong, but as a nun she can't accept that the universe is governed by such cruel randomness. Another death is enough to convince her that a killer is at work. But, consumed by doubts and deserted by those she most depends upon, she'll need to delve deep into her reserves of ingenuity and strength to establish not only the truth about what she's sure is murder, but also the foundations of her own beliefs.
Sister Agnes is about to take her final vows, but is worried about giving up all her earthly possessions. If she ever leaves the convent, how would she survive with no home and no finances? However, Agnes's concerns are put into perspective when Walker Hogen, a lodger at the hostel for addicts in London at which she works, is found dead. When Walker's handsome brother William turns up at the funeral and announces that he believes Walker's death was no accident, he enlists Agnes's help in tracking down the killer. By tracing Walker's childhood friends and comrades in the Falklands War, Agnes stumbles on Walker's own writings of horror and revenge on an unnamed man. Agnes feels she is beginning to pick up the trail of truth. Darkening Sky is a cleverly realised novel for our times, based on the moral dilemmas of Dante's Inferno.
A Violent Act
Sister Agnes is back at the Order’s hostel for the homeless. When Abbie, one of the residents, is found dead from a drugs overdose, her friends are convinced it’s accidental, as they assure Agnes she had no reason to be suicidal.
But Agnes is full of doubt, although as her friend Father Julius suggests, perhaps it’s more to do with her own state of mind, having taken final vows but still fearing that her decision to be a nun is about running away.
Then an old associate of her father’s appears in her life, wanting to give her back her father’s writings. They’re an odd collection of works from his last years in America, before he died, asserting that the Biblical account of creation is literally true. It is a side of her father that is new to Agnes, and sets in train a re-examination of her own unhappy childhood.
When another of the hostel residents is found dead, Agnes is drawn into the investigation. She finds herself trying to see a pattern in random events, just as her father was convinced that God created the fossils in the crust of the earth.
This story is about how our belief systems shape our behaviour, how the stories we tell ourselves influence our actions, sometimes in dangerous ways.
Shadow of Death
Agnes is up to her neck in books. Having been asked to help sort out the library of the nearly defunct Order in Bermondsey before the building is sold, she is trawling through piles of tatty Victorian and mawkish lives of the saints. However, the 17th-century Hawker archive, a collection of beautifully preserved books on spells and magic as well as hand-written journals, does catch her eye. These tell the story of Alice, her husband Thomas and their daughter, who died in infancy. Alice did not long survive her.
Alice’s story seems to haunt the present. The building, now an NHS day centre for the mentally ill, is the backdrop for a modern mother’s fears for the safety of herself and her child. Agnes is increasingly drawn into the predicament of Tina-Marie and her daughter Leila as well as Alice’s narrative. The line between past and present becomes hazy as Tina-Marie, like Alice before her, is prey to the men in her life and depression.
When unexplained and horrible things start happening and Agnes becomes convinced that buyers are after something more than the obvious in the Hawker archives, she hurries to protect Leila and lay some ghosts to rest.
The following novels are no longer in print:
Sacred Hearts - the first Sister Agnes story