Category: Crime Fiction
Challenges: Thriller and Suspense Challenge
Synopsis: This is a murder mystery that is really a Cold Case. Although it takes a long time before anyone actually finds out that there is a murder victim at all. It is also the story of a missing person and a parents right to choose. In the middle we find Reverend Clare Fergusson and Chief of Police Russ Van Alstyne.
My Thoughts: I really enjoyed this instalment of the Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne series by Spencer-Fleming. There were two aspects of the book that really contributed to my enjoyment of it. The first is the social issue this book deals with (each book covers some social issue) and the second on is the structure of the book.
The social issue that this book discusses is vaccinations and the side effects that it does or does not cause. I felt that the issue was dealt with with a great deal of sensitivity. Although the author is clearly of the opinion that children should be vaccinated, she shows an understanding as to why people feel uneasy with it. This type of sensitivity is quickly becoming my favourite part of Spencer-Flemings writing. She manages to convey that many times people aren’t necessarily wrong when they do or act in a way in which we do not agree with, they have simply not been exposed to the opposite view, or for their own sanity they have chosen to believe something that we do not agree with. This does not make them bad people, and we need to show them compassion, without condoning their views.
The second aspect is is the timeline which highlights the vaccination story by showing historical reasons for vaccination.The two previous books in this series have had very straight forward timelines, that however changes with this book, and I think it greatly benefits from it. The switching back and forth between events in 1930 and the current time gives a nice emphasis to the ongoing story of Clare Fergusson and the inhabitants of Millers Kill as well as giving depth to the vaccination storyline. It also makes the mystery in the story more mysterious. It creates parallels that both help solve the case and that keeps you guessing much longer. Some things seemed very clear from the outset are shown to not be so clear whereas other things that were less clear are shown to be very clear after all. I really enjoy this type of timeline. Although they can be confusing and frustrating at first they usually end up being supremely satisfying in the end because of the effects they create.
I want to write something about the relationship between Clare and Russ but at the same time I don’t want to risk spoiling anyone who has still to read the books. I will say this: I both like and don’t like where things are going. The part of me that likes it is winning over the part that doesn’t like it. The part that likes it is also the part that likes to read sappy romances. The part that doesn’t like it is the part who gets angry at litterbugs and jaywalkers. That part has a stick up her butt and is a crotchety old lady :P I don’t like that part either :D
I have read the first three books in rapid succession and am currently reading the fourth one, I would recommend anyone who wants to read this series to do so. Why you might ask. Well Spencer-Fleming is turning out to be a master at foreshadowing. She has a tendency to introduce relatively minor characters in one book, characters that turn out to be major players in future books. This is easier to catch if you have previous books fresh in your mind.
Previous reviews in the series: