I found this a great read: well written, with a sound and believable plot, interesting characters and enough detail about the islands and their beliefs to be intriguing, without over-doing it and becoming didactic.
If you like mysteries set in exotic locations and full of local colour, this is definitely for you. It should also appeal to anyone who likes their stories to come with greater than usual amounts of thoughtfulness about how people might get on across racial and religious boundaries. Ben Kella reminds me somewhat of Jim Chee in Tony Hillerman's Navajo mysteries. He's western-educated, highly intelligent and, perhaps because of the latter quality, open-minded enough to value his indigenous culture and religious beliefs. As 'aofia', the chosen judge and peacemaker of his people, as well as a policeman in a very British colonial administration, he is in a unique position to help people move from their traditional ways into a modern and alien world. It takes a toll on him, but you get the idea that he can handle it. If fact, he's just the kind of person you would love to be able to talk to on a whole range of human problems, well-versed in native wisdom, open-minded, and human enough to make mistakes and learn from them.
Sister Conchita is a little more stereotyped: the feisty nun, very much trying to live the religious life, yet constantly finding the letter of her religion in conflict with her humanity and good sense, and her more conventional and narrow-minded superiors aghast at her antics. In this book, she stumbles into a culture that sees the world very differently to her Chicago background. It a tribute to her strength of character that she survives and grows as a result. You come away with high hopes for her future adventures.
Thoroughly recommended. I can't wait for the next installment.