IN THE BLEAK MIDWINTER – Julia Spencer-Fleming

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:
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.


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8 Responses to IN THE BLEAK MIDWINTER – Julia Spencer-Fleming

  1. janebbooks says:

    Lavon, thanks for your interesting review of the debut Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne mysteries of Julia Spencer-Fleming. I loved the whole series and learned about this amazing author through the mystery threads on Amazon.

    I hope you’ve just started the series. Read in order. You have a lot of good reading ahead of you!


  2. Lavonn says:

    Thanks Janebooks…yes, I have started the 2nd book, A FOUNTAIN FILLED WITH BLOOD. I’m very pleased to have found a new author and accept the fact that my tbr pile far exceeds my ability to keep up. Someone has to keep all of these authors busy, right?

  3. Condorena says:

    I have also found this to be an excellent series and am looking forward to the third in the series OUT OF THE DEEP I CRY. I love the titles.

  4. Beth, thanks for this review–you have made me want to purchase this book I’d been hearing about! I love what you say about the takes-a-village (literally) solving of a crime…

    • Beth says:

      Jenny, I am delighted that the review encouraged you to purchase the book. However, I didn’t write the review. Lavonn wrote it for an Amazon discussion group and I asked if I could post in on this blog.

      I have read all the books in this series and they are wonderful. There is a great deal of growth in the characters so the series is best read in order.

      The next book in the series, ONE WAS A SOLDIER, is to be published in April. That gives you time to read the first six.

  5. Very excited, Beth, and thanks for correcting me. Nice review, Lavonn!

  6. Pingback: Book review: In the Bleak Midwinter by Julia Spencer-Fleming | Petrona

  7. Pingback: AUTHORS S – Y | MURDER by TYPE

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