In the Bleak Midwinter (Rev. Clare Fergusson / Russ Van Alstyne, Bk 1)
In the Bleak Midwinter - Rev. Clare Fergusson / Russ Van Alstyne, Bk 1 Author:Julia Spencer-Fleming Heavy Snow...Icy Desires...Cold-Blooded Murder — Clare Fergusson, St. Alban's new priest, fits like a square peg in the conservative Episcopal parish at Miller's Kill, New York. She is not just a "lady," she's a tough ex Army chopper pilot, and nobody's fool. Then a newborn infant left at the church door brings her toget... more »her with the town's police chief, Russ Van Alstyne, who's also ex-Army and a cynical good shepherd for the stray sheep of his hometown. Their search for the baby's mother quickly leads them into the secrets that shadow Miller's Kill like the ever-present Adirondacks. What they discover is a world of trouble, an attraction to each other-and murder...« less
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.
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 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.
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.
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?