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In the Bleak Midwinter

In the Bleak Midwinter
Julia Spencer-Fleming
358 pages

Clare Fergusson, an Episcopal priest in her mid-30s, has recently arrived in Millers Kill, NY to serve the congregation at St. Alban's. When a newborn baby is left on the church doorstep, she meets police chief Russ Van Alstyne, and thus begins their crime-solving partnership. In trying to find the baby's parents, they uncover a murder, which naturally leads to further investigation There are many potential suspects, and plenty of interesting developments that keep the story moving.

Clare and Russ, on the surface, appear to be an improbable partnership. However, prior to joining the clergy Clare served in the Army, and was trained in survival skills. Russ is a Vietnam veteran and has lived in Millers Kill for years. He feels a strong sense of ownership over the town and its inhabitants. As a minister, Clare has unique access to members of her congregation, which is both a blessing and a curse. Oh, and there's a little frisson of attraction between Clare and Russ, which adds an element of "will they or won't they" to the novel. They make a good pair.

And Spencer-Fleming kept me guessing all the way to the end. The last 100 pages or so were filled with suspense, as all the pieces began to fall into place. This was a very well-written, character-driven mystery and I'm looking forward to reading the next in the series. ( )