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To Darkness and to Death: A Clare Fergusson and Russ Van Alstyne Novel (Clare Fergusson and Russ Van Alstyne Mysteries)
To Darkness and to Death A Clare Fergusson and Russ Van Alstyne Novel - Clare Fergusson and Russ Van Alstyne Mysteries Author:Julia Spencer-Fleming Saturday, November 14, 5:00 A.M. — In the small Adirondack town of Millers Kill, an old lumberman sits in the dark with his gun across his knees. Not far away, an unemployed logger sleeps off his bender from the night before. The owner of the town's last paper mill tosses in his bed. And a young woman, one of three heirs to the 250,000-acre Great... more » Camp, wakes alone in darkness, bound and gagged.
Chief of Police Russ Van Alstyne wants nothing more than a quiet day of hunting in the mountains on his fiftieth birthday. His wife needs to have the town's new luxury resort ready for its gala opening night. The Reverend Clare Fergusson expects to spend the day getting St. Alban's Church ready for the bishop's annual visit. Her long-distance suitor from New York expects some answers about their relationship during his weekend in town.
In Millers Kill, where everyone knows everyone and all are part of an interconnected web of blood or acquaintance, one person's troubles have a way of ensnaring others. What begins as a simple case of a woman lost in the woods leads to a tangle of revenge, blackmail, assault, kidnapping, and murder. As the hours tick by, Russ and Clare struggle to make sense of their town's plunge into chaos---and their own chaotic emotions.
Something terrible waits in the ice-rimed mountains cradling Millers Kill. Something that won't be content with just one death---or two. . .
Julia Spencer-Fleming continues her moving story of the way a small town, as well as a great city, can harbor evil, and the struggle of two honest people to deal with the ever-present threat of their feelings for one another.« less
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I have to admit that the only reason I initially picked up the first book in this series is because the author lives in Portland, Maine. The idea of a book about an Episcopalian priest and a small town police chief didn't really appeal to me. Boy, am I glad that I found that first book! I am loving this series. Unlike many series that begin with a bang and then begin to peter out with subsequent installations, this series has actually gotten better, at least through the first four books. "To Darkness and to Death" actually takes place over the course of about 24 hours in the town of Miller's Kill in upstate New York. Spencer-Fleming tautly weaves several story lines and motives into a final bang that is both surprising and satisfying. The chemistry between Clare and Russ continues to crackle and entice. I have the fifth book in the series sitting here calling my name. I think I had better answer!
I continue to enjoy this series that I began reading such a short time ago. Spencer-Fleming knows how to write pulse-pounding scenes of action and danger while bringing her characters to life. Russ Van Alstyne and Clare Fergusson are two good people who've pledged themselves to help others. They are also falling deeply in love with each other, and this plunges them into a huge briar patch of moral dilemmas. I'd say that it's a treat to watch them walk the tightrope of professional respect and fiery passion except for one tiny fact: Spencer-Fleming not only makes readers feel the characters' attraction, she makes them feel their pain. This is probably the best relationship in crime fiction, and I'm always torn between inhaling the books in this series as quickly as I can to find out what happens to these two, or trying to take some time to savor each one. So far I'm savoring, but it's not easy.
Spencer-Fleming not only provides a top notch story and wonderfully complex characters (one of which is the upper New York state setting), there's also plenty of insight into human nature. She also touches on environmental issues with the estate being handed over to a nature conservancy, showing how this would affect the area's hunters as well as local logging companies and paper manufacturing.
If I have any complaints about this fourth book, it would be that too much time is spent with minor characters and not enough with Russ and Clare. The author is treading a very fine line with the two from a moralistic standpoint, and I know that they can't spend every day in each other's pockets, but when I find myself reading and reading and then thinking to myself, "Hey, where are Russ and Clare?" I know it's been too long between their scenes.
Now that I have that complaint off my chest, I find myself itching to pick up the next book in the series. I'm addicted!
Rev. Clare Fergusson gets an early morning call to join a search and rescue operation. She will link up with the local police chief who is her greatest temptation, and also juggle an annual visit from the bishop. Excellent writing and characters.