Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Book Review: Saint's Gate by Carla Neggers

Saint's Gate

Carla Neggers
Series: Sharpe & Donovan (Book 1)
Publication: Mira Books (August 23, 2011)

Description: Mystery and intrigue abound as an unlikely pair of FBI agents team up to solve this nail-biting murder from New York Times bestselling author Carla Neggers.

Emma Sharpe is summoned to a Maine convent, partly for her FBI art crimes work, partly because of her past with the Order. At issue is a mysterious painting of Irish lore and Viking legends. But when the nun who contacted her is murdered, it seems legend is becoming deadly reality.

Colin Donovan is one of the FBI’s most valuable deep-cover agents. Back home in Maine after his latest mission, a contact clues him into an intrigue of murder, international art heists and long-held secrets that is too tempting to resist. As danger spirals ever closer, Colin is certain of only one thing—Emma Sharpe is at the center of it all.

My Thoughts: The first Sharpe and Donovan mystery was an entertaining story with fascinating characters. 

The story begins when Emma Sharpe is called to the Convent of the Joyful Heart at the request of Sister Joan. The convent specializes in art restoration and other artistic endeavors. Emma herself was a novice there for three years before leaving to join her family's business tracking down art thieves and then later joining the FBI to do the same sort of work. 

Sister Joan doesn't tell Emma what she wants. She finds a gate she thought open locked and goes to get a key to let Emma in. Before she can return, someone kills her by hitting the back of her head. Emma feels guilty that she didn't accompany Sister Joan on the key hunt and is confused about what Sister Joan wanted to show her. 

A novice named Sister Cecelia saw someone in the garden but didn't recognize the person. She does indicate that there was a painting in Sister Joan's studio that is now missing. 

Colin Donovan is an FBI agent from nearby Rock Point who is home for some downtime recovering from an undercover assignment - though his family believes he's a desk jockey. Emma's boss contacts him to look after Emma who is actually a desk jockey. Colin would rather be kayaking or camping but he's curious about Emma who provided some key information that helped finish up his last case.

Both Emma and Colin are great characters. They are both independent and smart. Emma has some concerns that her past as an almost-nun will cause her colleagues to look at her differently and Colin does some teasing about it. 

The story quickly becomes more complicated as details of the missing painting are discovered with connections to Emma's grandfather. There is also a new priest Finian Bracken who has come from Ireland to fill in for the local priest's sabbatical who has an interesting backstory of his own and who provides clues that help solve the crime.

I enjoyed the growing relationship between Colin and Emma. I liked the Maine and Ireland settings. I liked learning more about Emma's family and their business. The story had nicely building tension as the clues were gathered and the villain was unmasked. 

This is the first of a nine book series. I reviewed the third and fourth books back in 2013 and 2014 and had the first two on my TBR mountain since then so that I could catch up. Looks like I have quite a few more to read and am looking forward to it. 

Favorite Quote:
"Your brothers think you're a desk jockey FBI agent. At least, they pretend to. I actually am a desk agent. I like my desk."

"It's nice and neat, like your apartment."

"I don't think well in clutter. Some things come more easily to me than others. I have to train hard to stay on top of my kick-ass game."

"But you can kick ass?"

She took no offense. "Well enough. And I can shoot."

"Good. We like FBI agents who can shoot."
I bought this one September 18, 2013. You can buy your copy here.

1 comment:

  1. I like the setting of the convent especially, harking back to my own education I think! Thanks for this review.


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