Sister Boniface Mysteries


I think there is a fine art to creating cosy mystery television. It’s so easy to make the mystery predictable or even outright boring. But at the same time, you don’t want to make it so thrilling that it’s no longer cosy. In my mind, Sister Boniface Mysteries gets the balance just right.

In Great Slaughter (the name of this English village) in the early 1960s, Sister Boniface, a Catholic nun, works as a scientific advisor to the local police. She’s sincere, loves puns and has an endlessly curious mind which takes root in her laboratory at the convent.

She works with two police officers: Detective Inspector Sam Gillespie and Detective Sergeant Felix Livingstone who is on secondment from the Bermuda police. Sam is a bit of a maverick while Felix is a stickler for the rules. None of the hard-hitting, hard-boiled detective business here. We have cheerful chaps sincerely engaged in finding the guilty party through the most respectful of means.

Felix (played by Jerry Iwu) a Black man in a grey suit with a blue tie and shirt stands next to Sister Boniface, played by Lorna Watson, who is in a habit with a wooden cross and holding a satchel, alongside Max Brown, a White man in a grey waistcoat and trousers, a dark tie and light shirt. They're standing in front of some hedges and a very old tree
Felix Livingstone (Jerry Iwu), Sister Boniface (Lorna Watson) and Sam Gillespie (Max Brown)

I was in raptures when I learnt the name of the village. That self-aware nod to the ridiculously high body count really tickled me. Yes, there are rather a lot of murders for a village, but aren’t there always in this kind of show? When you indulge in a cosy mystery, you choose to suspend your disbelief for the duration and accept the improbable number of deaths, the sheer volume of perpetrators, and the sturdy, steady presence of the investigators.

While this is technically a spin-off of Father Brown, as the character of Sister Boniface was featured in one of the Father Brown episodes, it very much stands on its own.

The premise of each episode is always interesting. We have a local festival, a serial killer using the lonely hearts column, an avant-garde art exhibition, an intrigue of state secrets with a cabinet minister, a pop supergroup, a garden allotment, a national cooking competition and so many more!

A scene from Sister Boniface Mysteries

There are two seasons so far, and the internet tells me that season 3 is underway. I’ve loved every episode so far. There are hints at a romantic subplot but this is very minor. I’m going to hide the fate of that subplot behind a spoiler, just in case, like me, you need to know how things end up.

Show Spoiler

All throughout season one, there is a very sweet tension between Sam and the reporter at the local newspaper, Ruth Penny. In season two, episode two, they finally kiss, but Ruth is offered her dream job at The Times in London and Sam encourages her to take it. So no HEA there.

If you need comfortable, casual viewing that’s interesting enough to keep you entertained while knitting a jersey with no end (at least, mine seems to be unending. So many parts!) then this is absolutely the series for you. I watch a few episodes every night and I look forward to them ever so much.

In the US, Sister Boniface Mysteries can be streamed on Britbox, or purchased by season or individually on Amazon, YouTube, AppleTV, and Roku.



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