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Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » In the Bleak Midwinter (A Rev. Clare Fergusson and Russ Van Alstyne Mystery) » User review

First novel isn't bleak at all

  • Mar 19, 2011
  • by
Julia Spencer-Fleming's first mystery introduces her sleuth Claire Fergusson, an Episcopal priest in up-state New York, also a helicopter pilot in the National Guard. She has an attraction to Chief of Police Russ Van Alystyne-- because every novel needs a love interest. A baby is left on the church steps and the mother is murdered. The writing is high quality and artistic as Spencer-Fleming unfolds clues and characters. Although Fergusson is a priest, and has a strong faith, this is not a religious book, and those who read this just for the story will not be disappointed.
This was a promising first novel -- and since Spencer-Fleming has gone on to write six more novels for St. Martin's Press, it was a popular series.

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March 19, 2011
Nicely reviewed, Joyce. I haven't read this one, but I've enjoyed a couple of the later ones in the series.
About the reviewer
Joyce Turrell ()
Ranked #268
I'm a literacy specialist at a large high school. I vegetable and flower garden, have grown kids and two grandchildren. I love to read mysteries. I like seeing what's new on Lunch.
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About this book


In this debut novel, a riveting page-turner from start to finish, born-and-bred Virginian Clare Ferguson, newly ordained priest of St. Alban's Episcopal Church in the small upstate New York town of Millers Kill, is faced with not only an early December snowstorm and the bitter cold of her first Northern winter but also a conservative vestry, who apparently expended all their daring on hiring her, a female priest. When a baby is left on the church doorstep with a note designating that he be given to two of her parishioners, Clare calls in police chief Russ Van Alstyne. The foundling case quickly becomes an investigation into murder that will shatter the lives of members of her congregation, challenge her own feelings and faith and threaten her life. With her background as an army helicopter pilot, Clare is not a typical priest. Smart, courageous and tough, she is also caring, kindhearted and blessed with a refreshing personality. Likewise, the other characters are equally well developed and believable, except for the young pediatrician, who speaks more like a hip teenager than a professional. It is a cast readers will hope to meet again, while a fast-paced plot keeps the guess work going until the very end. Along the way, there is an exceptionally spine-chilling confrontation. The vivid setting descriptions will bring plenty of shivers, but the real strength of this stellar first is the focus on the mystery, which will delight traditional fans. (Mar. 25)Traditional Mystery...
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ISBN-10: 9780312986766
ISBN-13: 978-0312986766
Author: Julia Spencer-Fleming
Genre: 4-for-3 Books
Publisher: Minotaur Books
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