Unholy Murder is the seventh book in the series about the early career of Detective Jane Tennison. It is set in the 1980s. Detective Tennison is sent to a building site on the grounds of a closed Catholic convent and orphanage where a mysterious coffin has been unearthed. The casket contains the body of an unknown nun who has evidently been brutally murdered.
Jane and her colleagues race to identify the nun and find her killer. I liked the detectives and medical examiner and their interactions and dialogue. The forensics and police procedures are fascinating. Jane is growing as a person and a detective. She is mentoring a junior colleague and helps him out with the experience and wisdom she has gained over the years. She and her colleagues make mistakes and errors in judgment and are thus fallible and more believable as characters.
The 1980s setting adds interest to the story as we can look back on the way women were treated in the police force. Many of the aspects of the story can be drawn from today's headlines. Jane and her colleagues uncover abuse of younger nuns and children perpetrated by more senior priests and nuns. This does not surprise those of us who have read about the disturbing sexual abuse scandals and the horrifying mistreatment and murder of Native children in North American church schools.
There is an interesting juxtaposition of a seasoned author writing about the early life of one of her major characters. Her writing experience, knowledge about who this character will become and perspective on history really enrich the reader's experience.
Unholy Murder is a superbly written and carefully plotted British procedural with a well-paced trail of evidence, clues and red herrings. It is interesting, highly suspenseful and very hard to put down. I would love to read the rest of the series.