I've been told about this series for years. Now I'm kicking myself for waiting so long to read it. The cast is full-bodied: a female priest with spunk, a cop with an absent wife, both of whom are veterans, and a town populated with interesting people.
The story is neither grisly nor smarmy.
I finished this book today, and immediately put the rest on my wish list.
I don't know how I'm going to be able to wait until I get my hands on a copy of the next book from this author! This was a wonderful mystery. The characters were people you'd like to know, the mystery believable and more complicated with every "clue." I took too long over lunch to find out the solution, and now I'm disappointed that there isn't more! Find yourself a copy; I don't think you'll be disappointed.
Great, fast-read of a mystery. Clare is an Episcopalian priest, but she's not like most clergy members: She knows what the real world is like. She may be a bit meddlesome in other people's lives, but she's got their best interests at heart. She's a likeable character and so is Russ, the police chief. He doesn't go to church and constantly "takes the Lord's name in vain." He's a pussycat under his veneer of cynicism.
I really love this series. ( and I found it through the bookclub). As an Episcopalian priest and a former army helicopter pilot Clare Fergusson is a unique protagonist.
In "In the Bleak Midwinter", the first book in the series, she has just begun to adapt to her new posting as pastor of a church in a small upstate New York town. The discovery of an abandoned child on the back steps of the church sets the plot in motion. While trying to locate the mother Clare meets and becomes friends with the local police chief, Russ Van Alstyne.
While the story line is intriguing it is the developing relationship between the two main characters and the very real dilemmas that they both face in their careers and their personal lives that makes this book (and the series) stand out. These are real people, trying to do the right thing both professionally and personally while being true to the high standards they set for themselves and others.
This is the frist book in the series, with Clare Fergusson, the new priest at St Alban's aad her friend, the town police cheif Russ Van Alstyne. I did't think I would like this mystery, but I loved it.
I really like this series and will read more. Clare Fergusson is an Episcopal priest in a conservative parish who may not be quite ready for her. A newborn infant is left at the door of the church and the search for the mom leads to many secrets in the small New England village.
I really enjoyed this book. The characters are vivid and the plot keeps you guessing. My only quibble is that if Clare was a soldier and pilot, it seems so unreasonable to believe that she fails to take the most elementary precautions, even though she is unfamiliar with the winters of upper New York.
I really like this author. Her characters are real people and not the average characters. Where else have you run into a priest that is female and wants to get into the real action of the small town. Russ the police chief is perfect as her partner and the attraction between them is fun to feel.
1st in the series - Winner of 6 awards for best first novel
Clare Fergusson, St. Alban's new priest, fits like a square peg in the conservative Episcopal parish at Millers Kill, New York. She is not just a "lady"; she's a tough ex-Army chopper plot and nobody's fool.
Great main characters - one a small-town sheriff; the other a female Episcopal priest - work together to solve the murder of a local girl and the abandoment of her newborn baby. The resolution of the mystery is almost at the cost of other lives. An extra spark in the story is the developing feeling between the two protagonists (the sheriff is a married man). The brutal winter weather is an integral part of the story. Quite an excellent read.
First Line: It was one hell of a night to throw away a baby.
There's a new priest at St. Alban's Episcopal Church in Miller's Kill, New York, and there are several parish members who believe the newcomer isn't a very good fit. Not only is Clare Fergusson a female, she's also an ex-Army helicopter pilot. When Clare finds a newborn baby left on the church doorstep, she meets the town police chief, Russ Van Alstyne, who's the ex-Army good shepherd of his Miller's Kill flock. Together, their search for the baby's mother leads them into a world of secrets, a world of trouble... and a world of temptation.
When this book was published, it made quite a noise-- being the first to win the Agatha Award, the Malice Domestic Award, the Anthony Award, the Dilys Award, the Barry Award, and the Macavity Award for Best First Novel. This is the first time this has ever happened, and the fanfare was tremendous. As in most cases when a book is praised from every rooftop, I merely lowered my head a bit and kept on reading my books. Massive praise makes me leary; however, when I was doing research recently, this book and its author reappeared on my radar, and I thought the time was right to see what all the shouting was about.
There's one good thing about coming late to the party: I can make an entrance and perhaps persuade other no-shows that they may want to dust off their invitations and join in the fun.
From the first line and from the first meeting of the two main characters, I found myself climbing up on the bandwagon. The December weather in the Adirondack Mountains did make me glad I was reading the book in sunny Phoenix, but In the Bleak Midwinter is all about Clare Fergusson and Russ Van Alstyne, two of the best characters I've come across in in all my reading this year.
I felt more in tune with Van Alstyne-- cynical and all too aware of the evil humans are capable of. I have to admit that Clare had a tendency to drive me nuts in the how-can-a-smart-person-be-so-darned-dumb sort of way. Yes, she's not used to the sort of weather Miller's Kill is prone to, but how many times does she have to risk frostbite before she gets a pair of decent boots... and how many times does she have to skid off the road before she gets a vehicle that can deal with snow?
I do not care for "femjep"-- those times when a female character knowingly puts herself in danger for no real reason. Clare does this in her silly boots and even sillier MG, and the only thing that saved that portion of the book for me was how she got herself out of the mess.
These two characters could have me going on forever, but I will show restraint. The way I'm waxing poetic over Clare and Russ, you're probably wondering why I didn't give this book my highest rating. There are two reasons: Clare's mule-headed meteorological stupidity and the fact that it was rather easy to deduce whodunit and why.
Other than that, I'll have you know that I already have the next five books in the series on my to-be-read shelves-- with the most recent firmly ensconced on my wishlist. I will admit to being a bit nervous, though. My husband Denis has also read and enjoyed In the Bleak Midwinter and moved right along to A Fountain Filled With Blood. We've talked about the first book, so when Denis told me what Clare's new car is in the second book, all I could do was groan. Clare, don't do this to me!
Isn't it grand when you find characters that make you talk to yourself?
OK, I am hooked on Julia Spencer-Fleming's books and I have read three and am looking for more. I love the way she writes and since I know the territory that she writes about I can vision what she is saying. Good books.
It was a really good book. Suspenseful, and fast moving.
It wasn't as "cozy" as I thought it would be. More on the
Rev. Clare Fergusson and Russ Van Alstyne have a very good friendship and neither one wants to overstep the line.
Had great hopes for this, but got bored 2/3 of the way through, skimmed to the end just to get the solution to the mystery. To wit: baby left on church doorstep, female Episcopalian priest finds it, gets involved with both the investigation and the local police chief, end up solving the mystery. Just did not appeal to me.
I started reading this book for three reasons: 1) The Kindle edition was reduced in price for the month of February; 2) One of the main characters was a religious figure (and met a task in this season's Reading with Style challenge); and 3) the reader ratings were good. I also thought a little break from often-heavy literary fiction would be a welcome change. Well - I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly I moved through this book and how captivated I was by the main characters: the female Episcopalian priest and the police chief in upstate New York who team up to solve a case smack dab in the middle of a very cold winter. I've already purchased the next two books in this series and I'm looking forward to more mysteries.
It took me a while to reconcile the two points of Claire's makeup (priest, ex-army), but once I got past that I found this novel really grew on me. Nice amount of tension, good character development, without being overly gory. A very nice book to curl up with on a lazy day, or just before bed.
First in the series. Clare Fergusson, a newly-ordained Episcopal priest, and Russ Van Alystyne, chief of police in Millers Kill, New York, work together to solve the mystery of a newborn that is left at the door of St. Alban's Episcopal Church. They find a world of trouble, secrets that shadow Millers Kill AND an attraction to each other. Winner of six awards for Best First (mystery) Novel by an American author.
This is the first time I've read this author and this is the first book in her series. It is a good story and a very quick read. The characters are interesting and the book is not filled with foul language, or graphic murder or sex scenes.
Enjoyed this book and have ordered the rest of the series:
Pros: Good mystery, interesting and unique characters, learn about Episcopal Church, reads quickly
Cons: Never saw an author use the word "hiss" as much, some unnecessary repetition about her unpreparedness for the cold, jacket, boots and car. I also wasn't interested in the detail afforded to the terrain in the woods but that might be a matter of taste.
It was the first in the series however and I think she will probably clean up some of her repetitiveness as she perfects the series. Would recommend.
Published in 2002, this is the first book in a mystery series featuring the teamwork of an ex-Army, Episcopalian woman priest (tough, spiritual and principled all at once, an interesting combination) and her friend, the married, casually atheist, chief of police in the small town in which they live. This one concerns an abandoned infant and a young woman found murdered.
I really enjoyed this book. I liked the characters, the town, the dynamics of the main characters, etc. The mystery was interesting and the writing was very good. I have already ordered all of the other books in the series that are available and can't wait to read them! Definitely recommend this book to mystery lovers
Julia Spencer-Fleming writes a decent mystery with a strong female lead. Clare Fergusson, the new Episcopal priest,is also an ex-Army chopper pilot. She's not about to sit back and let the town's police chief Russ Van Alstyne take care of her flock. Their clash and their sparing makes a good foil for this story set in winter in the New York Adirondacks.