Scorched Grace: A Sister Holiday Mystery -

Scorched Grace: A Sister Holiday Mystery

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Sister Holiday, a chain-smoking, heavily tattooed, queer nun, puts her amateur sleuthing skills to the test in this "unique and confident" debut crime novel (Gillian Flynn).

When Saint Sebastian's School becomes the target of a shocking arson spree, the Sisters of the Sublime Blood and their surrounding New Orleans community are thrust into chaos.

Patience is a virtue, but punk rocker turned nun Sister Holiday isn't satisfied to just wait around for officials to return her home and sanctuary to its former peace, instead deciding to unveil the mysterious attacker herself. Her investigation leads her down a twisty path of suspicion and secrets, turning her against colleagues, students, and even fellow Sisters along the way. And to piece together the clues of this high-stakes mystery, she must at last reckon with the sins of her own past.

An exciting start to a bold series that breathes new life into the hard-boiled genre, Scorched Grace is a fast-paced and punchy whodunnit that will keep readers guessing until the very end.

About the Author

Margot Douaihy is a Lebanese American originally from Scranton, PA, now living in Northampton, MA. She received her PhD in creative writing from the University of Lancaster in the UK. She is the author of the poetry collections Bandit/Queen: The Runaway Story of Belle Starr, Scranton Lace, and Girls Like You. She is a founding member of the Creative Writing Studies Organization and an active member of Sisters in Crime and the Radius of Arab American Writers. A recipient of the Mass Cultural Council's Artist Fellowship, she was a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award, Aesthetica Magazine's Creative Writing Award, and the Ernest Hemingway Foundation's Hemingway Shorts. Her writing has been featured in Queer Life, Queer Love; Colorado Review; Diode Editions; The Florida Review; North American Review; PBS NewsHour; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; Portland Review; Wisconsin Review; and elsewhere. Margot teaches creative writing at Franklin Pierce University in Rindge, NH, where she also serves as the editor of the Northern New England Review. As a coeditor of the Elements in Crime Narrative Series with Cambridge University Press, she strives to reshape crime writing scholarship, with a focus on the contemporary, the future, inclusivity, and decoloniality.

One of the Most Anticipated Books of 2023
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"Within five pages, I was in love with this novel. The voice is unique and confident, the sense of place deeply present, and the plotting completely assured: every time I was about to ask a question about Sister Holiday, her background, her drive, the mystery--the answer magically appeared. Sister Holiday is simply a joy of a narrator--and definitely my kind of character: flawed, dark, buoyant, and often laugh-out-loud funny. I feel like she and Camille Preaker from Sharp Objects should go on a road trip together. This novel is so much more than a mystery (which is my favorite kind of mystery), it's an exploration of faith, love, and the worthy struggle to be a better human. I just loved it!" --Gillian Flynn, Gillian Flynn Books

"Margot Douaihy's bold entry into the hard-boiled genre revitalizes it for our times. Skillfully plotted, propulsive, and deeply engaged with the communities it represents, Scorched Grace is one of the best crime fiction debuts I've come across in a long while." --Don Winslow, #1 internationally bestselling author of The Power of the Dog and City on Fire

"One chapter into Margot Douaihy's Scorched Grace and you'll be ready to follow Sister Holiday wherever her instincts take her. Vibrant, crackling and deliciously insubordinate, it's a mystery full of trapdoors and surprises but with a keen emotional force that leaves you shaken, hooked." --Megan Abbott, New York Times bestselling author of The Turnout

"Douaihy's prose is fresh and energetic, and she brings the delightfully original character of Sister Holiday vividly to life. Holiday believably leads her own investigation, and the story satisfies right up until the very twisty end." --Karin Slaughter, New York Times and internationally bestselling author

"Harrowing and gorgeously written, with an unforgettable protagonist--Sister Holiday, 'the first punk nun'--Margot Douaihy's Scorched Grace takes readers on a searing journey through faith, fire, and female rage. A brilliant debut mystery." --Elizabeth Hand, author of Hokuloa Road and Generation Loss

"Margot Douaihy's Scorched Grace is pure, hard-boiled delight, and so is its protagonist, Sister Holiday. I can't wait for the next installment." --Kelly Link, MacArthur Fellow and bestselling author of Pulitzer Prize finalist Get in Trouble

"Scorched Grace burns with the wholehearted energy of faith, love, and transgression. Sister Holiday embodies the frailties of faith, the contradictions of humanity, and the joy of sisterhood in all its forms." --Sophie Ward, Booker Prize-longlisted author of Love and Other Thought Experiments

"Fearless, ebullient, and twisty as hell, Scorched Grace remixes the crime novel for our current age, and debuts a magnetic noir heroine, whose brash wit and profound soulfulness command our instant and utter devotion." --Debra Jo Immergut, author of You Again and The Captives

"I inhaled this book. Sister Holiday drew me in with attitude and world-wisdom that, as she herself says, holds a kind of grace; meanwhile the hot, gnarly, beautiful world of New Orleans and all the edgy, intimate characters of the convent, school, and investigation (and, of course, the series of deadly arson attacks that drive Holiday and the book), had me turning the pages. Margot Douaihy gives Sister Holiday a sharp tongue and a body blessed by ink, and in this story Douaihy's writing is the fuel, the spark, the oxygen. It is the fire and the ashes." --Elizabeth K Reeder, MacDowell Fellow and author of An Archive of Happiness and Ramshackle

"In the American tradition of hard-boiled detectives, this was full of sweat, heat, and a lingering acrid smoke that pervaded the whole book. I could almost feel the grime under my fingernails as I read it. Sister Holiday is utterly unique--a gold-toothed nun with a history of addictions that still haunts her and a faith that is real, passionate, and anything but saccharine. She is a courageous truth-teller, even when she needs to tell the truth about herself." --Georgina Clarke, author of the Lizzie Hardwicke series and The Dazzle of the Light

"Stunning fiction debut and series launch . . . This briskly plotted master class in character development makes the most of its New Orleans setting." --Publishers Weekly, starred review

"A powerful story about religion and sin, family, and secrets . . . Scorched Grace is a unique and emotional novel, set against the backdrop of New Orleans in all its sticky, sweaty heat and unrelenting beauty and charm . . . When the ending hits, it is delightfully unexpected, bringing all the plot's twists and turns to one satisfying finale. Scorched Grace has all of the makings of an award-winning novel, and I see Douaihy skyrocketing to fame. Her novel is similar to creative, renowned works by authors like Douglas Stuart, and Douaihy's unique and modern writing should receive similar accolades." --Erin Clemence, Mystery & Suspense Magazine

"The rough, sarcastic, first-person voice of Scorched Grace seizes the reader in a headlock from the first page . . . Holiday is prayerful, funny, cruel, and exhausted: in short, excellent company . . . Though the history of hard-boiled detective novels skews undeniably toward one kind of identity, Scorched Grace blazes a queer path forward for the genre. Here's praying for a long series with Sister Holiday at the helm." --Laurel Flores Fantauzzo, Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine

"If you're not sold by a punk rock nun solving mysteries then can your soul even be saved?" --Michelle Hart, Electric Lit

"Holiday is an interesting character, and her story is well plotted." --Michael Cart, Booklist

"Margot Douaihy's chain-smoking nun Sister Holiday may be the most original character you'll come across for quite some time. Douaihy wanted to reclaim pulp tropes for a female protagonist, and I have to say, Sister Holiday is punk AF. Set in New Orleans, Scorched Grace takes place at a Catholic school where an arson attack has harmed several students. Sister Holiday, a fan of detective fiction, is ready to solve the case (or else face suspicion herself)." --Molly Odintz, CrimeReads "The Most Anticipated Crime Books of Fall 2022 (and Beyond!)"

Publisher: Gillian Flynn Books
Pub date: February 21, 2023
320 pages
Format: Hardcover