Scorched Grace: A Sister Holiday Mystery


Product Details

$27.95  $25.99
Gillian Flynn Books
Publish Date
6.2 X 9.0 X 1.2 inches | 1.25 pounds

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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 is an Assistant Professor in Popular Fiction Writing & Literature with Emerson College in Boston. 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.


Indie Next Pick
A New York Times Book Review Editor's Choice
One of Apple's Best Books of February
An Amazon Editors' Pick for Best Mystery, Thriller & Suspense

Indie Bestseller (St. Louis, Boswell)

One of the Most Anticipated Books of 2023
Goodreads - Barnes & Noble - Electric Lit - LGBTQ Reads - Book Riot - CrimeReads - BookPage - Novel Suspects - Autostraddle - Marie Claire (UK) - The Guardian

"Sister Holiday, the protagonist of Margot Douaihy's showstopper of a series debut Scorched Grace isn't what you'd imagine a nun to be like, even in laissez-faire New Orleans . . . I cannot wait to read the sister's next investigation, of mysteries and of her own self." --Sarah Weinman, New York Times

"A whodunnit with an unforgettable mystery solver . . . Sister Holiday isn't your average nun: She's a headstrong, thoroughly-tattooed chain smoker who sets off on a one-woman investigation through New Orleans to find out who is behind an arson attack at her school." --Jillian Ortiz, TODAY

"The prose really sings . . . Such lyricism in the service of setting the scene betrays the author's background as an established poet." --Jim Ruland, Los Angeles Times

"The book critiqued institutions, foregrounded sexuality and retained some lyricism, without losing the compulsive page-turning playfulness of a breezy read . . . its prose would set Dashiell Hammett's Sam Spade or Robert B. Parker's Spenser at ease." --Christopher Borrelli, Chicago Tribune

"It may never be the best idea to judge a book by its cover, but this one--it features a stained-glass portrait of a smoking nun--is a pretty strong marker for the rollicking ride set to let loose inside. We meet former wild child-turned nun Sister Holiday--tattooed, chain-smoking, queer--as her small order is plunged into chaos after an arson attack. The first book to be published by Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn's new imprint, Douaihy brings the sights, sounds and smells of New Orleans alive, with twists and turns aplenty." --Catherine Jarvie, Marie Claire

"A compelling tale of faith, atonement, and desire . . . Holiday [is] an unusual and fascinating narrator. I'm keen to see what she'll do next." --Laura Wilson, The Guardian

"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

"A badass, brilliant queer nun solving a murder mystery in New Orleans? How could I not fall in love with this book? You will, too!" --Mara Wilson

"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

"Douaihy, a poet and professor who shares Sister Holiday's punk sensibility, immerses the reader in her hyperlocal New Orleans setting and the murky depths of Sister Holiday's tormented soul. Her prose is frequently lyrical and often lacerating, her characters layered and intriguing. It's not surprising in the slightest that this series starter is the first book published by Gillian Flynn's eponymous new imprint. Scorched Grace is both entertaining and devastating, dominated by a queer sleuth with a clever, curious mind and a fatalistic yet somehow still hopeful heart." --Linda M. Castellitto, BookPage, starred review

"A beautifully written, vividly imagined murder mystery featuring a glorious hard-boiled, tough-talking, tattoo-covered, queer nun, Sister Holiday." --Emily Hourican, Irish Independent

"Margot Douaihy has written a provocative and hugely entertaining mystery, the first of a series, in which the soupy atmosphere of the Big Sleazy is almost a character in itself. Fans of dark academia and neon-noir are guaranteed to get the Holiday feeling. Her second coming can't come too soon." --Mark Sanderson, The Times

"Scorched Grace marks the ferocious prose debut of Margot Douaihy, who introduces us to perhaps the most unique heroine in the history of the hard-boiled mystery genre. Sister Holiday is both devout and profane, caring deeply about her God and her faith and her mission, even if she doesn't have much patience for the trappings of orthodoxy and tradition. I'm really interested in seeing where the rest of the series goes, in this first offering from Gillian Flynn's publishing imprint." --Doreen M Sheridan, Criminal Element

"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

"[A] confident, well-paced thriller--presenting a wide assortment of possible suspects, and never giving away too much at once . . . we are kept guessing about the identity of the killer until the final pages . . . a welcome introduction to the queer detective nun whom we didn't know we needed." --H Felix Chau Bradley, Xtra magazine

"Scorched Grace is brutal and brilliant and one hell of a prose novel debut." --Elliott Eatinger, Defunkt Magazine

"Scorched Grace is like no other book you've ever read." --Gwendolyn Kiste, The Lineup

"I never encountered anyone as unique and street-wise as the protagonist of Margot Douaihy's debut crime novel . . . Scorched Grace is a total gas . . . the work of a bright new author who understands how to update a tired genre. From the first page to the last, Douaihy's crackerjack sleuth and the imaginative, eccentric surroundings of Sister Holiday's supporting cast will grab readers and not let go. There is so much power in this woman's story, and the circumstances surrounding her own personal struggle give an extra boost to the fast and furious plot . . . Scorched Grace has the energy of a runaway freight car and the somber reflection of the search for inner light. It is a magnificently fun and compelling drama that will go back on your TBR pile for another trip as soon as it's first read. I can't wait to see what other awesome writers Gillian Flynn finds next." --Jana Siciliano, Bookreporter

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

"If you're looking for something new in crime and whodunits, take note." --Book Riot

"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!)"

"The sacred meets the profane head on in Margot Douaihy's debut mystery. It's funny. It's touching. Its honesty is refreshing, and we hesitate to compare the writing or the plot to anything prior. At times poetic and other moments full of zest. Sister Holiday breathes life into every scene and moment of this book." --Barnes & Noble Editors, Most Buzzed About 2023 Debuts

"A noteworthy entry. The mystery-novel debut of Lebanese-American Margot Douaihy, Scorched Grace tells the story of Sister Holiday, a hard-boiled, much-tattooed nun with a troubled past who joins a convent in New Orleans . . . By focusing on family and secrets, Douaihy offers a new take on the figure of the hard-boiled detective." --Marcia Lynx Qualey, Esquire Middle East

"The first novel by poet Douaihy, coeditor of Cambridge's Elements in Crime Narratives series, features punk rocker-turned-music teacher Sister Holiday, the only chain-smoking, tattooed, queer nun of the Sisters of the Sublime Blood in New Orleans . . . The first book from suspense novelist Gillian Flynn's imprint at Zando . . . has already been acquired for a prestige-television adaptation." --Library Journal

"Margot Douaihy has created an instantly memorable character--edgy, headstrong, hardboiled, deeply flawed, darkly funny, with a voice that crackles and burns with passion and wit. Sister Holiday may not know where she's headed, but you'll follow her anywhere." --Neil Nyren, Book Trib

"What do you get when you mix a poetic writer with the mystery genre? More metaphors than you can shake a stick at. Laugh out loud metaphors. Stunningly beautiful metaphors. All interlaced within an exciting mystery that is as different as it is classic in feel. . . . The twisty plot, gorgeous language, and the renegade nun as a main character bring this novel into its own category. . . . Scorched Grace is a novel both exciting and profound. The crisp pacing keeps things moving briskly forward while the writing takes you deep. I can't ask for more than that." --Anne Laughlin, Lambda Literary

"Colorful and surprising, Scorched Grace is one seriously heavenly mystery . . . With its scenes of austere convent life and gritty crime in a city lush with jasmine, Spanish moss, and strolling peacocks, this whodunit is a surprisingly fun and funny read." --Apple Books

"The author's writing style is dynamic, with a skilled approach to building each chapter. . . . Scorched Grace is, at times, irreverent and laugh-out-loud hilarious, but it delivers an interesting mystery with an unforgettable cast of characters." --Amy Wilson, Novels Alive

"What's cooler than a tattooed, chain-smoking punk lesbian nun? A tattooed, chain-smoking punk lesbian nun turned detective--that's what!" --GCN, 19 captivating LGBTQ+ books to read this spring

"Packed with twists and turns, Scorched Grace follows a crime-solving liberal nun on a mission to set things straight. If you're looking for a queer edgy Agatha Christie-type read, then this is one for you." --Zoya Raza-Sheikh, Gay Times

"Don't miss Scorched Grace by Margot Douaihy . . . Her words are both haunting and uplifting, reminding readers of the resilience of the human spirit." --Connect Savannah

"[A] striking debut . . . Sister Holiday becomes ever more determined to discover who is targeting the order and its school, and turns to her knowledge from her former life, becoming a modern-day Marlowe in the process." --Geoffrey Wansell, Daily Mail