By Bernard Seif

There is a fine line between spirituality and magic. One emerges from the depths of who we are, the other out of illusion. This distinction is pivotal in Vespers: Evening Prayer from the Office of the Dead.

The magical island of Kauai Hawaii provides a fragrant setting for readers to join Abbot Francis as he continues along his spiritual path while ministering as a Clinical Psychologist and Doctor of Natural Medicine. His captivation with Chinese Medicine and meditation we know well from earlier entries in this Office of the Dead series of ecumenical monastic mystery books.

The title for the series is drawn from the liturgical or common prayer services chanted day and night by Christian monastics all over the world. The psalms and readings making up the services change with the day, season, and feast day. Special services are celebrated when someone dies, and these are collectively called the “Office of the Dead.”

There is often at least a brush with death in each volume, thus the series title. Each book is named for a part of the Divine Office, the Liturgy of the Hours, and we are presently up to Evening Prayer or Vespers.

This time around the monk doctor and his small band of monastics are joined by several captivatingly new characters. A hearing-impaired woman who is considering joining the Salesian Monastery may be the most endearing. A spiritual psychic and a magician are probably the two most complex newcomers. The author’s hallmark ebb and flow between Pennsylvania and the place Brother Francis journeys to, in this case Hawaii, seamlessly entwines two related plots into one. Danger, death, and detective work are woven into every chapter of this fifth complete volume in the Office of the Dead monastic mystery series.

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