Wednesday 3 June 2020



Are you one of the elect?

Dr. Helen Hope is a lecturer in eschatology – the study of death, judgement, and the destiny of humankind. She is also a Calvinist nun, her life devoted to atoning for a secret crime.

When a body is found crucified on a Liverpool beach, she forms an unlikely alliance with suspect Mikko Kristensen, lead guitarist in death metal band Total Depravity. Together, they go on the trail of a rogue geneticist who they believe holds the key – not just to the murder, but to something much darker.

Also on the trail is cynical Scouse detective Darren Swift. In his first murder case, he must confront his own lack of faith as a series of horrific crimes drag the city of two cathedrals to the gates of hell.

Science meets religious belief in this gripping murder mystery.

A decent series opener from Catherine Fearns featuring a rookie homicide detective and his attentive sidekick, a Norwegian death metal singer and our main character - Helen Hope, a Calvinist nun, currently undergoing a crisis of faith. Or at least extreme doubts over her vocation. Lead me not into temptation.

A body is found on Formby beach, posed as a crucifixion with some accompanying bible verses. The Calvinist convent is just up the road and after a hop, skip and a jump the lead detective, Darren Swift, along with colleague Colette Quinn pay a visit to see if they can gain some insight from the message left. Helen Hope is an expert in the field of scripture among other things.

A curiosity is awoken in our nun and after some internet research, before too long she's letting down her hair and attending death metal concerts and going on road trips with the band, while falling a little bit for lead singer and pretend Satanist, Mikko. The pair of them investigate the crime in their own fashion, while peripherally on the radar as police suspects.

A missing researcher with some extreme beliefs, a playboy, a rock group, a criminal family with a missing nephew, an amputated foot, a drug addled waif, heavily pregnant to boot, a past mistake to be atoned and permanently punished for, a need to prove oneself, self-doubt, some reckless behaviour, a bridge jumper and a lot more besides.

Quite a busy book with an interesting cast of characters. The two main focuses Helen Hope and Darren Swift are each dealing with doubts and a lack of faith, albeit coming from opposite ends of the spectrum.

I quite liked the peek into the belief systems and dogma of the Calvinist faith, something I was ignorant of before. I enjoyed the backdrop of a semi-isolatied religious community and the pressures within the society..... future funding, a decline in recruitment and an aging population. I do like a Liverpool setting as well.

Lots to like and a series I'm looking forward to reading more from in the future. Reprobation is followed by Consuming Fire and Sound.

4 from 5

Read - May, 2020
Published - 2018
Page count - 212
Source - author giveaway, though I did already have a purchased Kindle copy on the pile
Format - paperback


  1. Those are some interesting characters, Col! All of them, in their ways, out of the mainstream, and some disparate people working together - I think that can make for a good story. And I like the setting and premise, too. Glad you enjoyed this one.

    1. Margot, I think there's a lot here that you might like, if you ever gave it a whirl.

  2. I like mysteries with nuns so I might like this one. I will be on the lookout for it.

  3. It was within my price limit as a kindle so I got it. ( and free with Kindle Unlimited if one has that)

    1. Ah, ignore previous comment, I hope you enjoy it Tracy.

  4. Bingo! As you were saying, sometimes our tastes collide. You mentioned this one a while back, and I bought it and read it, the combination of nuns and Liverpool would always be a winner for me. Like you, I enjoyed it without putting in the top tier. She had some great ideas, and it was a bit different.

    1. Glad you enjoyed it Moira. Do you think you'll read the next one in the series?