New Mystery Series Based on the Dominican Sisters of Peace

It could have been a meeting of almost any book club – a comfortable room, members exchanging greetings and nibbling on snacks, a good book on everyone’s mind. But at this book club, most of those in attendance were religious sisters, and the topic was not just a good mystery, but the Dominican charism that inspires and fires the book’s main character, a Dominican Sister.

Author Patricia Matthews and Sr. Louis Mary Passeri discuss the book Mayhem and Mass, inspired by the Sisters at the Dominican Sisters of Peace.

On December 3, the Martin de Porres Center, a ministry of the Dominican Sisters of Peace, hosted Columbus, OH, writer Patricia Sargeant. Sargeant, writing under the pen name Olivia Matthews, has introduced the first book in her new “Sister Lou” mystery series, Mayhem and Mass.

The novel’s reluctant hero is a Dominican Sister named Sister Lou LaSalle, based not so loosely on the Sisters that Sargeant met during her association with the Dominican Sisters of Peace. Sargeant worked previously at Ohio Dominican University, a founded ministry of the Congregation located next to the Dominican Sisters of Peace Columbus, OH Motherhouse.

The December 3 program, entitled “Charisms and Cozies,” examined the Dominican charism: to seek the truth, wherever it may be found, and to share the truth with others. Sr. Louis Mary Passeri, OP, former director of the Center of Dominican Studies at Ohio Dominican University, spoke with Sargeant to illuminate the charism for those in attendance and help relate it to the characters in Mayhem and Mass.

In the novel, Sister Lou LaSalle works with a young investigative reporter to solve the murder of her friend, a theology professor.

“One of the reasons that I wrote this novel is to combat the negative stereotypes of religious Sisters in today’s media,” Sargeant said. “The media often present Sisters as mirthless and one-dimensional, ill-informed as they are cloistered away from reality. The women that I have met in my work with the Dominican Sisters of Peace are the exact opposite – they are full of joy, exceptionally well-educated and well-traveled, and active in making the world a more just place.”

Author Patricia Sargeant reads from her book, Mayhem and Mass.

“Sr. Lou and the members of her fictional congregation are not literally based on individuals from the Dominican Sisters of Peace,” Sargeant continued, “But I drew on the courage, the strong intellect, and the welcoming, joyful attitude of the Sisters to create characters that I believe truly reflect the strength of religious women today.”

Sargeant also signed copies of the book for guests and members of the Congregation.

To listen to the discussion of the charism, click here.

Mayhem and Mass can be purchased on