Julia Spencer-Fleming has written a wonderful series about two adults who take their responsibilities and commitments seriously. Their mutual respect grows as they work together in a small town in New York.
Today’s review is offered by Lavonn who introduces herself.
I am a manager and buyer for a kitchenware shop located in a very historical southern coastal town. Mysteries and thrillers are my preferred reading choices, all genres included. Favorite authors vary with time, however seem to always include PD James, Daniel Silva, Martha Grimes, Dame Agatha, Lee Child and Michael Connelly. New to the list are Michelle Gagnon and Julia Spencer-Fleming.
The setting is Millers Kill, a picturesque small town in upstate New York. The main characters are a newly ordained priest of St. Alban’s Episcopal Church, Clare Ferguson, and police chief Russ Van Alstyne.
The story begins with a baby abandoned on the church doorstep in a blinding snowstorm. There are specific instructions given in a handprinted note accompanying the baby. Clare and Russ unite efforts in the investigation only to discover the body of a young woman who may have been brutally murdered. There are clues that link her as the mother of the child.
Clare and Russ quickly form a friendship and discover they had both served in the military service. She was an army helicopter pilot in Desert Storm and Russ a Vietnam veteran. Clare shows her toughness as the result of her previous training but is caring and compassionate in her role as a priest which will ultimately threaten her life and very survival.
Specific members of St. Alban’s play significant roles in unraveling this mystery and parishioners as a whole are challenged by their new priest in ways they never expected. Clare, on the other hand, struggles to bring modern day awareness to this very staid and conservative congregation.
There are many satisfying twists and turns as each clue is presented. Characters are skillfully developed and much attention given to the details that make this a great read. Ms. Spencer-Fleming has made Clare and Russ quite real and my plan is to revisit them again very soon.
From Stop You’re Killing Me:
IN THE BLEAK MIDWINTER-
2002 Agatha Award for Best First Novel
2003 Anthony Award for Best First Novel
2003 Barry Award for Best First Novel
2003 Macavity Award for Best First Novel
2003 Dilys Award
Finalist 2003 Nero Award
This effort was the first of several in the series by Ms. Fleming. Next up is A FOUNTAIN FILLED WITH BLOOD, her second in the series.