The Assassin Nuns of Pistachio is full of fun, danger, adventure and intrigue. The protagonist is a young orphan, Ann, who is no damsel in distress. Rather she is the female knight in shining armor who is recruited by the gentle nuns of an abbey of the sleepy town of Pistachio. The story begins with the legendary Assassin Nuns returning after completing their nine hundred and fifty-fifth problem. The black and white robed Mother Superior, Sister Mildew, Sister Portia, Sister Gilbertine, Sister Kiki and Sister Regina make the most incongruous firebrands. After forty years of faithful service and stay in abbey, they are getting ready to retire and hand over the ‘baton’ to the younger nuns.
Pistachio is introduced as a quiet and idyllic town well-known for its wonderful produce. Its peaceful tenor is disturbed by the the arrival of the sinister Mr. Knight — an investor of dubious antecedents. His advent signals the beginning of bad things that start happening one after the other in the town. The abbey is now run by Reverend Mother. Though disturbed and dismayed at the ban of festivities in the town, Reverend Mother believes in a policy of non-interference. The stage is set for the entry of Ann.
The eleven year old, scrawny and freckled Ann is an unlikely candidate to come to the aid of the abbey and the residents of Pistachio. Reverend Mother wants someone older, more experienced and less accident-prone to cope with the strange happenings in the town. However, Ann has made quite an impression on the other nuns who convince Reverend Mother to let Ann stay at the abbey. The diminutive Ann makes up in spirit what she lacks in inches. The protective nuns try to keep Ann away from the suddenly dangerous town but she insists on visiting the town library one day. Armed with two sandwiches, Ann makes her way into the town and straight to the heart of the problem.
Back at the abbey, Ann reminds Reverend Mother of the town charter, an agreement that makes them the guardians of the town. But the nuns are firm in their resolution not to meddle in the shadowy state of affairs in Pistachio. Undeterred by Reverend Mother’s refusal to help the townspeople, the spirited young Ann decides to take cudgels on their behalf.
Her encounter with Mr. Knight, subsequent kidnapping by the villainous new mayor and unexpected rescue by the spoon and frying pan wielding nuns make the climax and end of the story both delightful and dramatic in equal measures.
The agreeable characters including a French speaking guinea pig, Bonjour, the spanking pace of action and murky happenings in the placid town all combine to make this novel by Manisha Anand most readworthy. On a readometer of 5, I will rate this book at 4.5 for the pre-teens and teens who yearn for more books with an Enid Blyton feel.