Category: Crime Fiction
Challenges: Thriller and Suspense Challenge
Synopsis: Reverend Clare Fergusson has only just started her new job as the priest of St. Albans Episcopal Church in Miller’s Kill, upstate New York. One cold winters evening when she is heading out for a run she finds a new born baby abandoned in a box on the church step. This is the start of a mystery that will bring new people into her life and also grave danger.
My Thoughts: I read this book on a recommendation from someone who thought I would like it because I like J.D. Robb’s In Death series. Although the two series are quite different I really like this one as well.
The first thing that struck me about the book was the similarities between Miller’s Kill (where the book is set) and my own home town. Many of the same social and economic issues are present. Although here it is not necessary to have money for college (we do not pay tuition) it is still the issue of there being very little future for those who do want to stay here. The inclusion of the social problems that the lack of a future cause really show the real problems faced by many people in the western world.
These social problems also become the backdrop for the crime Reverend Clare Fergusson and Police Chief Russ Van Alsyne are tasked with solving. The discovery of an infant on the steps of the local church and then the finding of the body of a young woman in the forests surrounding the town bring to the forefront the tensions in the town between those who have and those who do not. By using the social problems and the tensions they great Spencer-Fleming manages to create a town that feels, at least to me, very very real. It could easily have taken place here, half a world away.
I also liked the way Spencer-Fleming used the elements, the cold winter, to mirror the reception that Clare gets to many of her initiatives. It isn’t just there to heighten the the tension, but it also adds its own layer to the story. Actually many of the different places where the story takes place helps to make the story richer.
This book did suffer a bit from being the first in the series. There were a couple of instances of information dump that felt a bit much, a bit unorganic, almost repetitive. One example of this is the continued focus on the fact that Clare is the first female priest in the town, almost every single new character had to remark on it.
I did like that Clare believed in the basic goodness of people. She truly believed that people at their core are good. So often when you read crime novels the basic assumption is that people are bad, not that they are good. This is a truly refreshing point of view.
I am really curious to see how they play out the relationship between Clare and Russ. So far they definitely have a connection but at the same time Russ is married. I worry a bit about how Spencer-Fleming will portray this relationship. I really like these two characters and I don’t really want it to be sordid, and if it isn’t I also don’t want it to take forever for them to get together. Quite frankly I get enough of that from every single tv show I watch (yes I am looking at you Castle and you Bones!)
I liked this book so much that I have ordered the rest of the books that have been published in the series.