by Bruce TierneySeptember, 2000
Mystery of the month
Much of the time, mysteries involving the clergy seem somewhat dated and stiff. There are exceptions, of course, like Ralph McInerny's Father Dowling series and Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose. A new addition to those ranks is Claire Munnings's Overnight Float, the first in a promised series of novels featuring chaplain Rosemary Stubbs. Stubbs was the CFO of a Fortune 500 company when another sort of fortune took the life of her husband in a boating accident. Searching for some meaning to the chaos of her life, Stubbs enrolls in divinity school. Following graduation she is offered a job as a college chaplain in rural Vermont; within days of her arrival, her only friend in the town is murdered drowned bringing to the forefront many of Stubbs's repressed feelings of horror and guilt about her husband's similar death. She realizes once again that the only redemption is in finding the hidden meanings, the answers that will solve the questions surrounding her friend's murder. The writing is literate and insightful with perhaps a bit of a feminist bent, not surprising when you consider that Claire Munnings is a pseudonym for two prominent academics, Jill Ker Conway (author of The Road to Coorain), former president of Smith College, and Elizabeth Kennan, former president of Mount Holyoke.