Book Review: Serita Stevens’ Unholy Orders

Posted February 19, 2012 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Serita Stevens’ Unholy Orders

Unholy Orders


Dianne Day, Serita Steven

It is part of the William Monk #xx.5, Father Dowling #xx.5, Sister Frevisse #xx.5, series and is a historical mystery, mystery, paranormal fantasy in Paperback edition that was published by Berkley Trade on November 5, 2002 and has 320 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

A peek inside an assortment of religions through eighteen religious mysteries from historical to contemporary, Native American to the big three of the religious world. All well-written stories.

In 2001, Unholy Orders was nominated for the Anthony Award for Best Anthology.

Note: All the authors have donated their royalties to Hugs and Hopes for Romania, a privately-funded charity that supports private foster homes to ensure that abandoned Romanian babies have human touch during the months it takes before they can be adopted. Their aim is to “take kids out of the institution and provide a family atmosphere…”


“Reverend Collins’ Visit” (William Monk, x.5)
“Volo te habere…” (Dame Frevisse??, an early intro to Joliffe?? It is set in 1404.)
“Amish Butter” (Caroline Canfield, 2.5)
“Dunne Deal” (Father Dowling, x.5)

The Stories

Anne Perry‘s “Reverend Collins’ Visit” was an echo of Agatha Christie as Henry Rathbone observed the passage of society outside his sickroom window putting two and two (and two) together to solve the truth about the Reverend Collins’ thefts.

Rochelle Krich‘s “Widow’s Peak” is so sad with its look at the upheaval caused by the Holocaust when wives could not find their husbands nor husbands their wives. In this case, Rose finds her Yossel much too late.

Nancy Pickard‘s “Speak No Evil” finds Joseph Owen tracking a serial killer by stalking a young woman two years into a five-year vow of silence. She witnessed the murder, but refuses to speak of it.

This is disturbing on two levels. The one in which the witness, Sara, refuses to speak the words that could save another woman’s life; the second in which FBI agent Joseph Owen is so overwrought at the young woman’s attempted suicide that he believes he too is a serial killer through his pursuit of serial killers. I can understand why he has this crisis…but I sure don’t agree with it! Really well written.

Margaret Frazer‘s “Volo te habere…” is a dip into Bishop Beaufort’s early years and a simple case of murder and legitimacy in 1404 when Beaufort has Richard Medford investigate the murder of a young, emotional woman who claims Stephen Hameden is her husband.

An interesting look at the necessary precision of words and the ease of marrying in the early 1400s.

Dianne Day‘s “Labyrinthine Way” is a little bit magic and a little bit justice as a woman priest uses hypnosis to snare an evil man within a labyrinth. Rather mysterious.

G. Miki Hayden‘s “Shaman’s Song” was a funny look, well, except for the murder bit, at how Coyote Man manages to pull together the money he needed for the dowry for Yellow Flower Girl. Indian Agent Dennis Riordan believes in his power of finding.

Takes a look at the Dine perspective on death.

Thomas Kreitzberg‘s “Charity of a Saint” was a bit convoluted with reporter Marvin Quinn investigating a St. Alice miracle in which she sends a dream to a farmer, Henry Lance, and he discovers buried Elizabethan treasure. The catch? Vicar Donald Rorty is very unhappy about the publicity St. Alice is receiving.

Rhys Bowen‘s “Seal of the Confessional” was lovely in its justice with a future protection. I know it’s [technically] wrong to approve of Father Costello’s tea party, but it was the right thing to do.

John Lutz‘s “Dilemma” is a crisis in faith when Police Corporal Alana Martinez needs to choose between the greater good and the law.

Joyce Christmas‘ “Chosen” is a Lourdes-type miracle in which a young Catholic girl receives a vision for which she is castigated for lying, but it does result in the apprehension of a murderer.

George Chesbro‘s “Model Town” is rather apocalyptic in that Brendan Furie’s interviews of a number of townspeople into the miracle of the weeping statues, miracle cures, and horrible economy of a shut-down mining town leads to his conclusion that this is a Model Town relating to his employers forecast of a world collapse due to fear. The statistics Furie collects his employers hope will pinpoint a way around it. If it can save individuals along the way…it’s all to the good.

Jacqueline Fiedler‘s “Amish Butter” is full of misconceptions when Caroline picks up an Amish hitchhiker on a dark and stormy night with some odd, moving luggage.

Kate Charles‘ “That Old Eternal Triangle” has a real twist at the end! Cressida has come to hate her dull, boring husband. Hugh is a good man but there is nothing left in their married life for Cressida. When Father Jonathan arrived in the parish, he came to spend more and more time with Cressida and Hugh. When Jonathan admitted to his wrongful desires, it set Hugh’s fate.

Terence Faherty‘s “God’s Instrument” is a roundabout way for a man to find God and yearn for a life that makes a difference through the tragedy of a train explosion which kills a number of people.

Mary Monica Pulver‘s “Father Hugh and the Kettle of St. Frideswide” uses psychology and the help of a saint to catch a medieval chicken thief.

Ralph McInerny‘s “Dunne Deal” is a confusion in stolen goods dropped in the poor box.

Carolyn Wheat‘s “Remembered Zion” is…I can’t think of words strong enough or sad enough. God. A woman who remembers Kristallnacht. Who remembers the Germans taking away her friend Esma. Being told she should hate her. Now, it’s starting again. Her own son is a part of it. She cannot be a part of this. She must take a stand. And she does. For a very short time as she sees the hate in her son’s eyes.

This is a jewel. Be prepared to cry. And remember.

Serita Stevens‘ “In a Jewish Vein” is of a trip a trio of Jewish women make to Romania to adopt a baby. Only to run into unexpected help and an even more unexpected spouse.

The Cover and Title

The cover looks like an Ansel Adams’ photograph with its subject matter, the black-and-white, and the lighting/lightning that hits that old dead tree in which the snake is entwined. The bottom edge is a background of leafy trees.

The title reflects the subject matter of “mystery stories with a religious twist”, Unholy Orders.