Saturday, 24 May 2008

Sister Agnes

Rather unexpectedly, there is a tradition of nuns turning to amateur detective work. The great American critic and mystery novelist Anthony Boucher, who gave his name to Bouchercon, created Sister Ursula. And nowadays we have Sister Agnes, the heroine of Alison Joseph’s series of low-key but appealing novels.

There is a new radio series, on ‘Woman’s Hour’, based on Shadow of Death, the most recent Sister Agnes book, and starring Anne Marie Duff. This is a sound novel, published last year and involving the 17th century Hawker Archive, a collection of beautifully preserved books on spells and magic, together with hand-written journals. This sort of material can provide the basis for an interesting book, and Alison Joseph makes good use of it.

Alison has a great deal of experience of radio work. She is a former presenter who has written original radio drama as well as adaptations. It’s an area I’m interested in myself -I did some writing for local radio (mainly comedy) when I was a student at Oxford and a member of its Broadcasting Society, but never took it any further after I started working full-time. One of these days, I'd like to have another go at it.

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