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A Los Angeles transplant, Sister Louise "Lou" LaSalle feels right at home in Briar Coast, New York. After all, her beloved nephew, Chris, works at the college founded by her congregation. But while Sister Lou has always played by the rules, she's about to have her faith in herself tested--by murder . . .

Sister Lou expects some pushback when she invites her friend, Maurice Jordan, to be the guest speaker for the St. Hermione of Ephesus Feast Day presentation. The theology professor is known far and wide for his controversial views. What she's not prepared for is finding him dead in his hotel room, bashed over the head.

When the local deputies focus on the members of her congregation as suspects, Sister Lou takes matters into her own hands. Against Chris's wishes, she teams up with a cynical local reporter to delve into Maurice's life. The unlikely partners in crime-fighting uncover a litany of both devotees and detractors. And though it might take a miracle to find the killer, Sister Lou vows to carry on until justice prevails . . .

378 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published January 1, 2017

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Olivia Matthews

19 books151 followers
Olivia Matthews is a pseudonym for Patricia Sargeant.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 64 reviews
Profile Image for Lisa Ks Book Reviews.
843 reviews109 followers
March 21, 2018
A delightful new sleuth is on the scene!

Who do you get when you cross Father Dowling and Jessica Fletcher? Sister Louise “Lou” LaSable. Cozy mysteries have been waiting for her for a long time!

I have only good things to say about MAYHAM & MASS. Brilliant writing, a uniquely wonderful cast of characters and an excellent, hard to guess plot. There were so many twists and turns, I got dizzy! I didn’t guess the killer, even though I thought I was on the right track.

Spending time with Sister Lou has been one of the most entertaining things I’ve done in a long time, and I can’t wait for my next visit with her.

This is author Olivia Mattews’ debut mystery, and it is one of the freshest new cozies of the year (2017)! You’ll be talking about MAYHEM & MASS long after you’ve closed the covers of (or turned off) your book.
Profile Image for Kristina.
3,519 reviews63 followers
November 25, 2017
Mayhem and Mass by Olivia Matthews is the first book A Sister Lou Mystery series. Sister Lou LaSalle is a sister with St. Hermione of Ephesus in Briar Coast, New York. She has invited her old friend, Dr. Maurice Jordan to be their speaker for Saint Hermione of Ephesus Feast Day presentation. Sister Lou’s choice was not a popular one since Dr. Jordan, a theology professor, is known for his controversial views. The day of his speech, Maurice fails to show up on time or respond to Sister Lou’s phone calls. Sister Lou finds Maurice dead in his hotel room from blunt force trauma. Deputy Fran Cole and Deputy Ted Tate focus on Sister Lou and her fellow sisters as suspects in Maurice’s death. Sister Lou feels responsible for Maurice’s death and is determined to get justice for her friend. She enlists her nephew, Chris LaSalle to help with the investigation. Sister Lou and Chris are joined by Shari Henson, reporter for The Briar Coast Telegraph (despite Chris’ objections). Can this threesome find Dr. Jordan’s killer or will they end up the next victims?

Mayhem and Mass had an interesting premise. A sister who investigates crimes. I found Sister Lou to be feisty, determined, smart, but lacking in her questioning technique. Instead of nicely asking people questions in an unassuming way, she is forthright and direct. It is off-putting. Sister Lou ends up alienating every person she talks to during the course of the investigation. The story takes place over a few weeks (be prepared to fall asleep). I found the book to be slow paced and repetitive (same details rehashed). The cops are portrayed as incompetent (which is mentioned frequently) and one is nasty (of course). The mystery cannot be solved early in the story because the killer is not introduced until almost midway in the book (though the actual murder takes place much earlier). There is misdirection and multiple suspects, but the culprit is obvious (once introduced). Readers will have no problem surmising the guilty party and their motive. The multiple points of view were a hinderance to the story. The author should have stuck with telling the story from Sister Lou’s perspective or third person (instead of alternating with Chris and Shari). It felt like Shari and Sister Lou were competing for dominance in the book instead of Sister Lou coming across as the main character. Then we have Chris worrying about his aunt’s safety, his job and his attraction to Shari (repetitive). Shari wants to further her career and is fighting with her boss who prefers to portray Briar Coast as the perfect small town with no issues (unrealistic). Let us not forget the extremely negative Sister Marianna and her constant criticism. The author seemed to delight in telling readers about every little detail of rooms (especially the color of each item). How many times do I need to be told about Sister Lou’s powder blue chairs? Once was enough. I wanted to like Mayhem and Mass, but I found it tiresome, tedious, and boring (and in need of editing). The next book in A Sister Lou Mystery series is Peril and Prayer (June 2018).
Profile Image for Linda.
Author 11 books686 followers
March 11, 2021
Sister Lou definitely has a clue!

Sister Louise LaSalle, sleuth extraordinaire, brings a fresh new voice to the world of cozies. Inquisitive, determined, and wonderfully kind, she teams up with her beloved nephew and a somewhat jaded reporter to solve the murder of her dear friend Maurice--a man whose controversial teachings attracted a number of enemies. I loved the Christie-style ending, and the bond that developed among the three sleuths promises to deliver more delightful, mystery-solving adventures in future installments.
Profile Image for Mary  (Biblophile).
647 reviews3 followers
February 23, 2018
I wanted to like this book but couldn't get past the constant repetition, especially about the colors of everything. The book was seriously over long and drawn out. The nun who investigated her friend's murder has possibilities and may evolve more as the series progresses. I skipped over huge parts of the story as it didn't move things along. There were too many points of view which caused some lack of cohesiveness. Hopefully, some of these negatives will be fixed in future books.
Profile Image for Linda.
Author 11 books686 followers
August 27, 2020
Sister Lou definitely has a clue!

Sister Louise LaSalle, sleuth extraordinaire, brings a fresh new voice to the world of cozies. Inquisitive, determined, and wonderfully kind, she teams up with her beloved nephew and a somewhat jaded reporter to solve the murder of her dear friend Maurice--a man whose controversial teachings attracted a number of enemies. I loved the Christie-style ending, and the bond that slowly developed among the three sleuths promises to deliver more delightful, mystery-solving adventures in future installments.
Profile Image for Debbie.
832 reviews58 followers
September 11, 2019
This is a very cozy mystery. Even including murder this is a rather warm and fuzzy book. I am certainly looking forward to the next book with Sister Lou. She seems to be able to stir up trouble while she works.
Profile Image for Monica **can't read fast enough**.
1,033 reviews337 followers
June 4, 2019
Nice start to the series and I am looking forward to continuing. MAYHEM & MASS has a lot more details/descriptions than the cozy mysteries that I have read before which made it a longer read. Enjoyable characters, well paced story, and nicely atmospheric. Full review to come.

Where you can find me:
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Profile Image for MsAprilVincent.
534 reviews73 followers
November 7, 2017
I wanted to like this book about a Sister from the Order of St. Hermione (who's got a pretty good story herself, if you're into saints). Unfortunately, the writing got in the way.

In small Briar Coast, Sister Lou has arranged for an old college friend, De. Maurice Jordan, to speak to the congregation about some of his controversial views on women and the church. Unfortunately, the day before his presentation, he's murdered in his hotel room. Since the police department has targeted members of the congregation as the likeliest suspects, Sister Lou, her nephew Chris, and reporter Shari decide to investigate unofficially.

Each of these characters is given a point of view in the narrative, which I found unnecessary. At most, adding Shari's voice could have worked, if her story had been about her investigations instead of the drama going down at her workplace; the clues she found are later added as part of the dialogue with Sister Lou. Chris's point of view consists primarily of his worry about his aunt's safety and his discomfort over his growing attraction to Shari, and is therefore useless within the context of the story.

The author seems obsessed with color, as things are not merely described as blue or brown, but as sapphire or sienna/cinnamon/burnt umber. In addition, there are several instances in which information is repeated almost instantly, as when Sister Lou discounts as suspect because of a medical issue, them ONE PAGE
LATER repeats this conclusion to the same person to whom she's previously said it.
It's my hope that these are problems that can be corrected with editing.

Regarding the story: there's an ocean of red herrings tossed at the reader; the small-town detectives are portrayed not only as inept, but as shockingly disinterested; politicians throw their weight around in an unrealistic (and frankly probably illegal) fashion; and the burgeoning romance is not at all something I'm interested in.

You'd think that means I didn't like this book, but I did! Sister Lou is an engaging character, and I like her friendship with Sister Carmen. There's potential here, as long as the other stuff is resolved.

I received this book as a digital arc from netgalley.
Profile Image for Odessa Green.
16 reviews1 follower
October 27, 2017
I’m not Catholic. I’m Baptist. I even taught Sunday School for children for awhile (and managed to increase the amount of children at the church)! My grandmother was Catholic before she moved out of Arkansas. However, there were no Catholic churches near where she lived in Illinois that allowed black people to attend service there, and so in searching for another place of worship and to be around like minded, god-fearing people she joined one of the few black churches in town. It was a Baptist church so she became a Baptist. My mother is a Baptist. I am a Baptist. My husband is Catholic. Several of my dear friends are Catholic.

I mention all of that because Mayhem & Mass, the first in the new Sister Lou Mystery series by Olivia Matthews, centers around Sister Louise “Lou” LaSalle a plainclothes nun at St. Hermoine of Ephesus in Briar Coast, New York. Some of the terminology used in the book is new to me such as the word chasuble which is a sleeveless vestment worn by priests during Mass. I always enjoy books that teach me things. I don’t always appreciate it at the moment, but I like coming away knowing more than before I started. If a cozy mystery can give me enjoyment and educate me in the process, I’m all for it.

This isn’t my first religious cozy. I really enjoy Amish cozies. I will say when I first picked up this book and started reading it, it made me feel as though I was watching Father Dowling Lou seemed a combination of Father Dowling and Steve. (which I absolutely loved. My mom loved the show when it used to air. I was watching a lot Murder, She Wrote and had already been a Tom Bosley fan–Hello, Happy Days– so naturally I wanted to watch the series so I picked up the entire series). As I read more, however, Lou became a force all her own with no need to compare her to other amateur sleuths.

In this book Sister Lou has invited her long time friend Dr. Maurice Jordan, whom she met in college (she holds a PhD in Philosophy and her friend a PhD in Theology), to be a guest speaker for the Saint Hermoine of Ephesus Feast Day. The day of the presentation arrives and Maurice is a no-show. He had previously agreed, while at dinner with Lou, to come early to greet the guests. Maurice was notorious for arriving early to everything, especially when he was a lecturer, sometimes arriving thirty minutes early. Which is why Lou begins to worry when Maurice hasn’t shown up as promised. He had been acting strangely the night before but he waved it all off. Unable to contact him she goes to his hotel where she finds him murdered.

Shari Henson is new in town and a reporter for the local paper. She was covering the presentation when she found out about Dr. Jordan’s death. She follows the story only to be told it would not be put into the paper. She is determined to find out the story and inform the people. Lou is determined to find out what happened to one of her closest friends. They team up to find out the truth. Who killed Dr. Jordan? Chris, Lou’s nephew, works at the college and helps out his aunt, with things such as driving, when necessary and won’t let his aunt head into danger alone. Commandments are being broken left and right. Can they figure out who killed Dr. Jordan without getting themselves hurt in the process?

The book is well written although I did not need to hear about the way things looked (color, fabric, etc) more than once, like the powder blue chairs. Some things like Lou’s office or the Motherhouse reception area were touched upon a few times and I didn’t need the reminder after the first time. If a piece of furniture or colors of the carpet aren’t moving the story forward (like something is missing or askew or there is a huge grape juice stain) then I don’t need to refresher on the design. There was one small awkward scene in the cafe, but it wasn’t enough to distract from the book. I did not particularly like jumping from one person to another. I’ve never been a fan of stories written that way, especially if it wasn’t known prior to my reading that who we would follow would change. If there is only one main character I only need to know about that character, the amateur sleuth, and how they solve the mystery. I don’t need to see things from supporting or minor characters pov. That being said, I have read a couple of stories from multiple pov’s that i really enjoyed because they were written so well. Once I got past my bias, it was an enjoyable read. The writing flowed nicely and the story was easy to read. I truly liked the mystery and while I had suspicions about who the murderer was, I didn’t guess who it was (I was over 3/4 of the way finished and still hadn’t nailed down who I thought did it). I love that in a mystery. I didn’t feel as though it was too easy, which would have been boring, but I also didn’t feel as though it was impossible to figure out. I was certain once the pov changes started that I wouldn’t continue reading but I did, I won’t finish a book if I don’t like it. I enjoyed it very much. I adore the characters. Sister Lou and Shari seemed to be an unlikely pair but they worked well together. I felt like I was revisiting old friends, not starting a new series. I will read the next book in the series (yes me–the woman who isn’t a fan of many cozies that aren’t told with a third person limited point of view).

I loved the tagline “for a plainclothes nun, sleuthing is a habit,” I’m a sucker for clever wordplay.

I received an arc of this book from netgalley
Profile Image for Lisa D..
85 reviews10 followers
February 15, 2018
I enjoyed this cozy mystery by Olivia Matthews and I like the protagonist, Sister Louise LaSalle, aka, Sister Lou. This is my first time reading a cozy mystery; I love watching cozy mystery-themed TV shows, but this was a great book. i am glad Matthews is doing a series and can't wait for the second book, coming out in July.
Profile Image for Miriam.
1,786 reviews33 followers
September 29, 2017
Mayhem ensues with a touch of romance and misdirection. This cozy is perfect for lovers of romance and mystery with a dash of religion thrown into the mix.

Look for longer reviews in the Columbus (OH) Dispatch Newspaper http://www.dispatch.com/ and Ohioana Quarterly Newsletter http://www.ohioana.org

I received an ARC in exchange for an unbiased review.
Profile Image for Eric.
1,355 reviews35 followers
October 21, 2017
Thank you to NetGalley and Kensington Books for the ARC.

Mayhem and Mass is the first in a new cosy mystery series featuring Sister Lou LaSalle of the Congregation of St Hermione of Ephesus.

In this debut, Sister Lou investigates the murder of her great friend, theologian Maurice Jordan, on the eve of his engagement as speaker at the Feast Day celebration of St Hermione. In the investigation she is supported by her nephew, Chris, and reporter, Shari Henson.

While the local police focus on members of the Congregation as suspects, Sister Lou and her "team" look at Maurice’s family, academic rivals, and business associates, as well as the followers and detractors of the controversial professor. This leads to conflict with the police, the mayor and the newspaper editor in addition to the suspects.

Sister Lou’s life is threatened and another murder takes place before the killer is unmasked at a classic gathering of suspects. There are clues to be spotted by the vigilant reader and I did work out both killer and motive before the end.

This is a fairly light read. The main characters, Sister Lou, Chris and Shari are well-drawn and memorable. The mystery is not too difficult, although there were times when I found the investigation a bit laboured. The negative interventions by Lou’s colleague Sr. Marianna were rather repetitive. There was a slight authorial obsession with the details of interior decoration, food, clothes and colours: how many times were we informed that Lou’s chairs were “powder blue”?

Overall, this was a good opener to the series, and there was enough of interest to make me want to read further instalments.

A few questions. Why was the lecture on August 31st and not on the Saint’s Day, September 4th?
Why was the Mass celebrant in Chapter 1 wearing a GOLD chasuble?
Why is there a cat in the front cover illustration?

Three stars.
12 reviews
May 26, 2018
Sigh... Where to begin? An amateur effort here. First off, easily-solved weak mystery. As soon as the killer appears you know it. Weak, annoying characters.

FAR too much attention to wardrobe. The author uses it to define character and character's moods, but WAY too much. It's repetitive, silly. One mght be reading a clothing catalogue. Descriptions become repetitve, merely pointing out the author's limited skill and narrow palate: bronze, bronze, bronze and more bronze and every conceivable shade of grey (dare I say fifty?). Repetitve annoyng descriptions of rooms as well. Every time we enter a room it is described--again. How many times are we told about the thick rose carpet? How many times are we told about Shari's bloody heels sinking into the thick red carpet?

How many times are we told about Chris' bronze sedan? About Lou's office chairs? Use set,clothes to reveal character, but do it once. Physical descriptions blend and repeat so mch it seems everyone mght be related... All those onyx (yes onyx) and--sigh--grey eyes.

Obviously our author knows--or thinks she knows-- a lot about fashion. But watch her descriptions fail as she goes into areas she knows less. She describes trees as 'forest-green' for Pete's sake. Trees. Her descritions of gardens are equally asinine or vague: stunning, vibrant.. Nothing specific. Interiors and clothes she describes ad nauseum...

Characters, in spite of their clothes, remain vague, vapid creatures. They are all walking cliches. The ending tableau is a cliche as well...And we have known pages and pages and pages before it who the killer is. Duh.

This book is aggressively terrible.
95 reviews
June 19, 2018
Too much unnecessary details. The color referrals drove me crazy at the end. Almost like the author had a minimum amount of words she had to write.
69 reviews4 followers
December 15, 2017
I was fortunate and won Mayhem & Mass by Olivia Matthews from a Goodreads giveaway
This is the first book featuring Sister Lou. A good friend of hers whom she has known for years is murdered and she is determined to find out who murdered Maurice Jordan.
The story could have been a light read and entertaining, but I found it to be repetitive. We have two cops featured that seem to be bordering on dumb and dumber. They don’t seem to want to really follow any leads and are content to let Sister Lou investigate all the time grumbling about her interference. Her nephew helps her in the investigation and we are constantly learn how worried he is about her safety. We are also introduced to a reporter that is helping them both but is warned off writing a story and sticking to writing mild bland articles. The premise being that the Mayor and counsel don’t want the lcitizens of the little burg where they live to worry about the place not being safe to live. It seems the Mayor calls the shots on what should be printed.
I was hoping to book would get better, but between 2 cops that do nothing and another sister that constantly tries to undermined Sister Lou, I was glad when I finished the book.
I think the story certainly has potential, but it is just too repetitive
Profile Image for Tiffany.
461 reviews30 followers
January 12, 2018
Sister Lou invited her dear friend Maurice to come speak with her congregation and was so happy to see him again. Sister Lou never thought she wouldn’t see him again and she is determined to find out who was the person behind his murder. Sister Lou with some help will uncover some secrets that some may wish to stay hidden.

I really enjoyed this mystery novel. Sister Lou was determined to find out who killed her dear friend and she was going to stop at no costs to find out who did this. Throughout this book you Good will see a number of different people and the secrets they want to keep hidden. This book definitely brought me out of my book slump and I am looking forward to reading more from this series!!!
80 reviews1 follower
May 14, 2018
Interesting premise for a new series, but this was a very slow read. The characters were not well developed and, frankly, were not interesting. The plot moved along very slowly; it was difficult keeping interest.
Profile Image for Judy Fleener.
59 reviews1 follower
April 17, 2018
This is one of the worst books I have ever read. It is poorly written. Descriptions were tedious, plot too slow and there were a serious lack of knowledge about the religious life.
Profile Image for Jeanne.
513 reviews
April 9, 2018
Really about a 3.5. Sister Lou is both anticipating and apprehensive about a presentation given by her old friend Maurice, a religious scholar whose views can be quite controversial... but when Maurice is found murdered, she has to wonder if someone found his views so enraging that it cost him his life. Aided by her handsome nephew Chris and a prickly but attractive journalist, Sister Lou is determined to solve the case.

I wasn't sure I was going to make it through this one at the start as the constant color descriptions of everything were so distracting. It started with Chris being onyx eyed, because years ago there was a detailed discussion on a reference listserv as to whether a human can have black eyes (based on a description from a historical document); long story short, no. Very dark eyes, yes, but not a true black. But I could have gotten past that except for all the colors: in addition to onyx eyes, Chris is Sienna skinned and wears a lot of bronze colored shirts which match the bronze teapot, cups, and plate with cookies, and his bronze car, there were at least four, maybe five, gray eyed people (inbreeding?), people with coffee colored eyes and cocoa colored eyes, and the eyes stretched a lot (as opposed to opening wide or widening). A man wore emerald glasses with his gold shirt, a character wears a ruby shirt with emerald pants, and so on. But after 100 pages or so the intense color descriptions dwindled or else I became inured to them.

Secondly, we were not told what sort of controversial view Maurice put forth until about 200 pages in, which I found annoying.

Finally there was a lot of padding. We were told over and over and over that Sister Lou needed to solve the case because Mo was her friend, for example. The whole narrative needed to be tightened and probably cut by 80-100 pages. (The book was 360.)

BUT the plot ended up being clever and well clued. I also liked the setting and the characters. There was a fresher feel to it than a lot of cozies I read and I think there is real potential here. One sort of odd thing was that while they said grace and obviously faith was important, I didn't get a real sense of that. I certainly did not want preaching, mind, but having read Brother Cadfael, Father Brown, and Grantchester, I sort of expected a little more spirituality, I guess for want of a better word.

I think this series could be a real winner. The writing needs a little editing and a little polish, sometimes a little more showing and less telling, but this is a promising start. Hallmark Channel should take note-- this would be a perfect series for them to add to their Women of Mystery rotation.

PS In case anyone is wondering, there is no cat in the book. It's just the sign for a cozy. *sigh* Such a nice little calico, too.
Profile Image for Stanley McShane.
Author 10 books44 followers
November 28, 2017
The protagonist, an LA transplant to the small community of Briar Coast in New York, Sister Louise "Lou" LaSalle has gotten very comfortable at the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Hermione of Ephesus. Sister Lou also has her nephew, Chris, close by working at the college founded by the congregation.

Sister Lou has invited an old friend, Maurice Jordan, to be a guest speaker for their Feast Day presentation. When he fails to stick to his early bird schedule and she cannot get hold of him, she knows something is very, very wrong and soon discovers his body in his hotel room.

The local detectives are new or have not had a homicide investigation in eight years and appear inept. Sister Lou links with a local reporter, Sharelle (Shari) Henson, of The Briar Coast Telegraph. Shari is new to the area and is happy to team with Sister Lou.

Ms. Matthews's writing style is relaxed and clean. Shari and Sister Lou complement each other. Shari researches Maurice's closest associates and they assemble their private suspect list. Chris argues for their safety and sparks fly between he and Shari. Chris contributes some intel and has a wide range of connections through his Interim VP position at the college.

While the dialogue flows naturally, there were redundancies. Sister Lou is a reluctant sister sleuth, somewhat verbally blunt and spunky. Her nephew Chris comes off as needing to man up. Sister Lou is his only remaining living relative and he's understandably reluctant to support her role in a perceived dangerous investigation. POV is switched between Sister Lou, Shari, and Chris. Shari was well fleshed and written for the sympathy vote.

The antagonist is gradually slipped mid-way into the book and soon becomes suspect. Sister Lou is very observant and begins to eliminate suspects and there are several miscues and new directions. Eventually, all characters are weeded correctly and the villain and motive exposed.

I suspect these characters will grow with the second in the series, and we'll get a little more back story on Sister Lou. Shari makes for a strong and likable character, though why she'd have interest in Chris is beyond me. Several edit misses were noted. This is a promising debut that needs a little tightening up, and I would have interest in reading the next installment. Recommended for cozy mysteries fans with a light religious bent.

Read my full review on http://rosepointpublishing.com
January 5, 2018
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the ARC copy of this book.

Despite this being more of a Christian-themed cosy mystery, I enjoyed it for the most part. The story takes places at the congregation of St Hermione of Ephesus, which is a community of sisters - not nuns. The differences being that the sisters live a less modest lifestyle, can drive, wear (tasteful) jewellery, etc. Sister Lou LaSalle is an LA transplant who has found her place in the world in Briar Coast, New York, at the congregation which has a college attached. Her nephew, Chris LaSalle, works as an administrator at the college and they have a very close relationship.

An old friend of Sister Lou's is murdered before he can give a talk at the college and she takes it upon herself to conduct an investigation with Chris and Shari, a new journalist in town, and to whom Chris has an immediate attraction, which he fights throughout the book. The two police officers assigned to the case spend literally all of their time investigating/questioning the sisters in relation to this death and seem to do nothing else but bicker and grumble when Sister Lou comes in to discuss the case with them.

Lots of not very much happens and it takes over two weeks to resolve the case. There is a lot of stereotyping of characters: Shari, the outspoken journalist with the troubled past, who is immediately attracted to Chris, the good-looking nephew of Sister Lou and who is A Nice Guy but has, conveniently, had a very bad experience with a reporter in the past which colours his attraction to Shari. The nasty Sister Marianne; the Good Cop/Bad Cop duo; the spunky, not-too-straight Sister Lou; the cheating wife; the estranged son of the murder victim; the editor of the paper that Shari works for (slovenly, rude, etc.).

The newspaper is apparently run/owned by the Mayor who never appears anywhere in the book other than as a background figure who is determined to whitewash everything that gets printed so that Briar Coast looks like the idyllic town for tourists.

There is a point where Vicki, the cheating wife (of the murder victim), tells Sister Lou never to speak to her again, yet in the next chapter Sister Lou is back with more questions, along with returning to see the man Vicki is cheating with! The collecting of clues is a very slow process. And there is plenty of internal dialogue going on as well, which doesn't always lead anywhere.

Points of view flipflop, too, with Shari at the paper, Chris wondering/worrying about his aunt, and Sister Lou dealing with work at the congregation and investigating. I'm not quite certain why the POV of Shari was shared so much (plus, she more or less lives out of what she can carry around in her car because she moves around so much - where on earth does she keep these dozens of colour-coordinated outfits she owns? With matching shoes! What sort of money is she making?)

Despite all that, it was an enjoyable enough read and I might pick up the second in the series to see if the kinks have been worked out. It was just a bit dull and repetitive.
Profile Image for Cornerofmadness.
1,682 reviews10 followers
June 26, 2019
This is another where I met the author at the Ohioana book festival and enjoyed talking with her so I really wanted to like this book. Unfortunately I didn't love it. It was good but there were a lot of things that left me wanting something different.

Sister Lou is just that, a sister who was friends with Maurice, a controversial Christian author who will be speaking at an event her congregation has organized. Loui is very fond of Mo and his family but senses something is wrong and the next day he's gone. She, her nephew Chris who works at the Christian college and Shari a reporter they just met have to solve Mo's murder because they think the police aren't because they spend time interviewing the Sisters instead of looking for the real killer.

Lou has to weed through a plethora of suspects, Mo's cheating wife, her lover, his estranged son, rivals in work, crooked partners and people who hated his take on religion.

So I liked Lou and her nephew but I disliked Shari very much and that's a problem because in so many cozies there is a romantic subplot. Naturally Sister Lou can't have one so it's down to Christ and Shari and I could have done without it entirely because it was distracting and I didn't like Shari. What set me off about Shari is on her first approach with the two detectives is to assume they have no idea how to do anything, treats them like the enemy, is rude and then is surprised when they don't want to help her (granted one of the cops is ugly as a person too). She convinces Lou the police are idiots and aren't about to do anything (which isn't the case).

I'm a big no when it comes to the sleuth and the cops being at odds (because obstruction of justice is a thing). There was a bit too much of that, too much of repeating how much Mo meant, how much Chris didn't want her to do this and how much Shari's boss didnt' want her writing about the crime.

I liked Lou but I'm on the fence about the series.
Profile Image for Jaclyn.
1,992 reviews5 followers
March 7, 2020
Solid cozy mystery. A bit meh on the reporter character - she often took centre stage more than the actual main character the nun did - and the romance between her and the nun's nephew felt a bit forced.

I also wish the police were less stupid. I get that it's standard in cozy mysteries for the police to be pretty much useless, but the ones in this novel make no sense. They're focused on investigating Sister Lou's congregation that they have zero interest in looking at the victim's family and friends. It's convenient for plot, because Sister Lou, her nephew and the reporter then get to investigate the victim's family and friends, but it makes no sense for detectives to so completely ignore the victim's personal life. We also don't get any info on their investigation into the congregation, which sister Lou explains means they didn't find anything, but then it doesn't make sense why the detectives wouldn't then move on to more obvious suspects. The author tries to explain it as the detectives just being in over their heads coz this is their first murder investigation, but even total rookies wouldn't ignore the victim's loved ones.

But beyond that, the mystery itself was solid and the reporter got less annoying as the novel went on. 2.5 stars.
Profile Image for Tam Sesto.
443 reviews7 followers
July 9, 2021
Sister Lou’s friend is found dead in his hotel room. Sister Lou, her nephew, Chris, and a local report, Shari, decide to investigate the murder making the local authorities and the mayor of the city quite unhappy. This is Mayhem & Mass (A Sister Lou Mystery #1) by Olivia Matthews.

I really enjoyed this cozy mystery. It was different than most cozies with the protagonist being a sister. I loved how the author told the story and the way she created and evolved the relationship with her nephew and the reporter. The writer was quite descriptive in her words to the point that you could imagine the scene quite clearly or smell the food that was cooking or being eaten. The murderer was a surprise, and the ending of the book was heart felt satisfying. A character you will want to smack, Sister Marianna. I almost felt guilty about wanting to smack a sister, but man, that woman was down right mean.

My only complaint is that some of the complaints about Sister Lou and her friends investigating the murder were a bit over the top. So much so, that I suspected one of those characters as being the murderer. Even so, I loved the book and am excited to read the next book in the series.
Profile Image for Sandra Jean.
6 reviews1 follower
December 18, 2017
Mayhem & Mass the first in the series by Olivia Matthews had me finishing the book in two sittings. I do not usually like suspense or mystery but Ms Matthews has me becoming a fan of the genre very quickly, definitely a fan of her work. Cannot wait for the second book in the Sr. Lou Mystery.
If you are a product of Catholic Schools, the references will bring you back to your fondest memories or your worse nightmares, some of the characters reaction to Sr. Lou are predictable, funny, and familiar when they interact with Sr. Lou as a sister. Ms Matthews, ability to weave such a good story that you become quite invested in the characters and plot. They flaws are real and so are their strength. You were kept guessing as to who did it, when you think that you had it figured out, Ms Matthews' throws you a curve ball. When the killer is revealed, at first you are huh, but quickly realized oh yes the clues were there.

I highly recommend this book, if you are not a fan of this genre, this would be a good book to begin with. The subtle romantic plot is another reason I want to continue to read the series to see what Ms Matthews develops in that relationship.
1,740 reviews17 followers
January 1, 2018
Princess Fuzzypants here:
Sister Lou is like none other, or, forgive the pun, nun other. She is a respected member of her mother house who has invited a highly controversial friend to deliver a talk for the feast day. They are old friends and when they dine together the night before the speech, she can tell he is disturbed by something but does not wish to pry. She wishes she had when she discovers his body the next morning.
She feels guilty that she invited him to the place where he was murdered and feels she must get involved in the investigation as a debt of honour to him. The local police seem to be ham-handing their investigation and do not appreciate her interference. Her friend was well liked by many, he was also a lightening rod for those who disagreed with him. There are plenty of suspects despite the fact that the police come up with the easy solution.
It's an entertaining read. Sister Lou is a great character as is her nephew and the reporter who goes from adversary to team member. It was a pleasurable way to spend a few hours.
I give this four purrs and two paws up.
Profile Image for DaShannon.
963 reviews29 followers
December 20, 2020
The first in the Sister Lou Mystery cozy series is an entertaining introduction to a new sleuth reminiscent of Father Brown and Jessica Fletcher. Sister Lou teams up with her handsome nephew Chris and a persistent reporter new to town Sharelle Henson. The group digs into a recent murder of Maurice Jordan that is putting the sisters or St. Hermoine of Ephesus under scrutiny. The man was a close friend of Sister Lou and she is determined to do the work the local police are not. I picked this book up from the author at Cincinnati's Books by the Banks Festival. I like the setting of Briar Coast New York and the new group of sisters and small community. I did feel like it went on a bit long for a cozy but I figure the author is setting up the new series of which there are currently three titles. The friendship that develops between the three main characters is what will keep me coming back for more.
Profile Image for Kelly Knapp.
934 reviews19 followers
November 19, 2017
In this debut series about a nun who is drawn into a murder investigation when the local police are looking in all the wrong places, we meet Lou, an nun who has transferred from LA to a small bucolic community in New York State. Her friend has been murdered and she intends to find out who and why he was murdered. There are plenty of suspects and we quickly realize that secrets abound.

While the character of Lou is well rounded, it is suggested that she follows the "rules" so that her deciding to investigate is a little out of character. However, one of the issues Lou has is that all of her friends and worried nephew must transport her around because Sister Lou has a "lead foot" and has lost her license. This little quirk proves that our Sister isn't a saint.

I look forward to reading more in the series.
Profile Image for Booknblues.
1,171 reviews8 followers
December 25, 2022
When I stared reading Mayhem & Mass, I noticed that it was set at a college in Briar Coast, New York which is located an hour south of Buffalo along the shores of Lake Erie. This was interesting because I went spent my freshman and sophomore years at a college in just that location, but it wasn't called Briar Coast nor was it a Catholic College.

Anyway that was a hook for me, but I enjoyed reading about Sister Lou and her nephew Chris and their new friend and reporter, Chari. This was a promising start to a new series. I enjoyed the personalities and look forward to seeing them further developed.

I'm not sure I need to know the details of every outfit each character wears down to flats or spike heels, but I believe it must be something Olivia Matthews is interested in.
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