Monday, November 24, 2014

Hank Enjoyed This Very Chilly Mystery

In Through the Evil Days, New York Times bestselling author Julia Spencer-Fleming raises the stakes for Russ and Clare, putting their new marriage, their unborn child, a missing teen, and their very own lives on the line.

On a frigid January night, Chief of Police Russ Van Alstyne and Reverend Clare Fergusson are called to the scene of a raging fire. The extent of the tragedy isn't known until the next day, when the charred remains of a man and woman are recovered—along with evidence showing they were shot execution style.

The last thing Russ needs are two potential homicides. He's struggling with the prospect of impending fatherhood, and his new wife is not at all happy with his proposal for their long-delayed honeymoon: a week ice-fishing at a remote Adirondack lake.

St. Alban's Church is still in turmoil over the Reverend Clare Fergusson's news that she's five and a half months pregnant—but only two and a half months married. Worried her post-deployment drinking and drug use may have damaged the baby, she awaits the outcome of the bishop's investigation into her "unpriestly" behavior: a scolding, censure, or permanent suspension.

Officer Hadley Knox is having a miserable January as well. Her on-again, off-again lover, Kevin Flynn, has seven days to weigh an offer from the Syracuse Police Department that might take him half a state away. And her ex-husband's in town—threatening to take custody of their kids unless Hadley pays him off with money she doesn't have.

When Hadley discovers that the dead couple fostered an eight-year-old girl who was a recent liver donee, the search for the killer takes on a new and terrible urgency. With no access to immunosuppressant drugs, transplant rejection will kill the girl in a matter of days.

As a deadly ice storm downs power lines and immobilizes roads, Russ and Clare search desperately for the truth about the missing child, but the hunters will become the hunted when they are trapped in the cabin beside the frozen lake and stalked through the snowbound woods by a killer.

Hank says:
"The eighth installment in the crime series set in and around the fictional Adirondack town of Millers Kill delivers another suspenseful read, as the characters find themselves separated by a devastating ice storm. The weather has always figured into Spencer-Fleming's storytelling as a non-human adversary, and the storm complicates the ill-timed ice fishing honeymoon of the two main characters, as the ones left in charge try to investigate what appears to be a case of kidnapping and fatal arson, and others attempt to hold down the fort and provide emergency assistance.

I did not quite read this series in order, but Through the Evil Days continues story lines begun in previous books, and some familiarity with the characters would be helpful, although some context is provided. In the Bleak Midwinter, the first Millers Kill book, would be my recommended starting point, and also features the Reverend Clare Fergusson floundering around in the winter woods. At least by now, she's gotten up to speed on appropriate clothing and transportation in a region where, in any given year, summer might fall on a Thursday!

Speaking as someone with family and friends who lived through the REAL ice storm of the century, 15 years before Through the Evil Days was published, I think these characters got off pretty easy, considering. OK, it's a new century now, so maybe we're due for another--but I hope not."

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