Publication Order of Rev. Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne Books
|In the Bleak Midwinter||(2002)||Hardcover Paperback Kindle|
|A Fountain Filled with Blood||(2003)||Hardcover Paperback Kindle|
|Out of the Deep I Cry||(2004)||Hardcover Paperback Kindle|
|To Darkness and to Death||(2005)||Hardcover Paperback Kindle|
|All Mortal Flesh||(2006)||Hardcover Paperback Kindle|
|I Shall Not Want||(2008)||Hardcover Paperback Kindle|
|One Was a Soldier||(2009)||Hardcover Paperback Kindle|
|Through the Evil Days||(2013)||Hardcover Paperback Kindle|
Julia Spencer-Fleming is an American author of bestselling mysteries, and religious mystery novels set in the Adirondack region of Upstate New York. She’s the winner of Agatha, Anthony Macavity, Dilys, Barry, Nero Wolfe, and Gumshoe Awards, and an Edgar and Romantic Times RC Award finalist. Born at Plattsburgh Air Force Base, she spent her childhood constantly moving. She studied history and acting at Ithaca College, receiving her Juris Doctor degree from the University of Maine School of Law. Currently, she resides outside of Portland Maine with her husband and children as well as two dogs.
The first novel that Julia Spencer-Fleming wrote is called ‘In the Bleak Midwinter’, and this is the first novel in this mystery series. Clare Fergusson, St. Alban’s new priest, barely fits in at the old-fashioned Episcopal parish. She’s not only a lady, she’s also a hardened ex-army chopper pilot and wise as an owl. When a newborn is left at her church door, she’s brought together with police boss Russ Van Alstyne. This town police chief is also ex military and a skeptical good shepherd of the lost sheep in his hometown.
As the priest and the cop start to look for the newborn’s mother, their search leads them to the secrets shadowing Millers Kill, just like the enduring Adirondacks Mountains. They discover a world full of trouble, a mutual attraction for one another, and murder. The baby’s mother has been killed, and as the two investigators work the case, they come to rely upon each other’s intuition and intelligence. The police chief is married, which is going to complicate the fledgling relationship between him and the priest. This first novel won Julia Spencer-Fleming an Agatha Award, a Dilys Award, and a Macavity award.
These awards came courtesy of her excellent writing, and she is great at manipulating language. The result is a spine-tingling story told in a highly entertaining fashion. The author is great at describing the setting, characters and action, and the reader gets fully immersed in the story. You won’t find any fuzzy, half-hearted symbolism in her writing. As a reader, you will be treated to a comprehensive revelation of a character’s emotional and physical make-up, what the place looks like and how the action would appear if you happened to be there.
Clare is made out to be a smart and efficient war veteran but she also shows some signs of being a crazy meddler without impulse control. For instance, she blurts out things that she should keep secret and repeatedly dashes off into danger. She’s also a pompous and self-righteous character. On the other hand, Russ is an almost competent police boss. For unknown reasons, he allows Clare to assume the lead role in the murder investigations. The romance between the two of them is hard to fathom, him being a married person and all. Playing with fire cannot begin to describe what the two people are doing and if you want to find out what happens next, grab a copy of this book.
The second book in this series is called ‘A Fountain Filled with Blood’. Nestled in the heart of the Adirondacks, Millers Kill, in New York is about as safe as it gets. This is the reason why Episcopal priest Clare Fergusson get’s shocked to discover a series of vicious attacks happening in her scenic town during the weekend of Independence Day celebrations. Even Clare’s close friend, police boss Russ Van Alstyne is equally shaken by these brutal crimes, especially when you consider that the victims appear to have been chosen because of being gay.
A third assault happens to a developer from out of town, and this time it ends up being a murder. So Russ and Clare start to debate whether this recent crime wave can be linked to a controversial plan by the victim to establish a high-end spa in Millers Kill. But everything in this tiny town is not what it appears to be-and soon a network of conspiracy threatens to turn fatal for Russ and Clare even as they’re trying to overcome their attraction to one another.
Clare thinks that these crimes are interlinked but Russ doesn’t think so. His theory is that there are no copycat crimes, and by refusing to act on Clare’s theory, tension begins to build between them. So when a third person is murdered, Clare decides to take matters into her own hands and starts her own investigations. There are serious issues that need to be addresses, chief of which is the gay bashing incidents as well as the water supply in the town being contaminated.
As a reader, there’s one thing that might strike you as odd concerning Clare’s character. Here’s a woman who used to be in the army, where there are rules and a chain of command. Information is given on a need-to-know basis and discipline is required. She then decides to become a priest, and this is a calling that requires confidentiality among other things. But then she blabbers information even when she is expressly told not to do so. She is also infatuated with a married guy while her job entails counseling couples among other things. She also interferes with police investigations even though she’s supposed to be a priest and a law-abiding citizen. An odd couple is what you might think about the young military-trained Episcopal priest and a married veteran police but they’re sincere in the feelings towards each other.
Forbidden romance is always a popular theme in many romance and mystery novels, and this series doesn’t disappoint. Strong female characters are always welcome, and the author has also done a good job of creating twists and turns, resulting in tension and the reader is none the wiser about whodunit. The interesting bit about these murder mystery novels is that when a crime happens, there’s always a person from out of town who takes the blame. Unbeknownst to the small town folks, the killer may be that innocent-looking next door neighbor. The good news is that Julia Spencer-Fleming has written many more books in this series and readers can look forward to reading more mysteries and discovering what happens next with the priest and the cop.Book Series In Order » Authors » Julia Spencer-Fleming