Through the Evil Days
A Clare Fergusson and Russ Van Alstyne Mystery by Julia Spencer-Fleming
Review: Julia Spencer-Fleming's eighth mystery featuring Clare Fergusson and Russ Van Alstyne, Through the Evil Days, opens with the couple having been married for over two months and yet still trying to find time for a honeymoon. Complicating matters is Clare's pregnancy. Russ, already in his 50s, had made it clear that he did not want any children, that his job kept him on call day and night and, quite frankly, he was too old to be a father. Clare agreed with him wholeheartedly, only to realize she had already become pregnant … several months before they were married. Not only was Russ upset; St. Alban's Episcopal Church, where Clare is a priest, is trouble by her news. They offer her a choice: immediately retire for her "unpriestly" behavior, or await the outcome of a bishop's investigation, which could allow her to stay with a reprimand or terminate her position.
Meanwhile, Russ's position as Millers Kill Chief of Police is also in jeopardy. The city council is considering shutting down the station and allowing the Sheriff's office to serve as law enforcement for the community. Deciding they need to get away for a while, Russ and Clare decide to visit a remote cabin that he wants to buy, fifty miles outside of Millers Kill on Lake Inverary.
But before they can get away, a local home burns to the ground with a couple inside, their foster daughter missing. Russ turns the investigation over to two of his officers, Hadley Knox and Kevin Flynn, and Russ and Clare make their way to the cabin. The situation, however, quickly escalates out of control, with the missing girl in desperate need of medication and the discovery of a gang of meth dealers whose buyers may include local politicians … and even the police. Russ and Clare, however, are trapped in their cabin by a sudden winter storm, unable to assist directly but determined to do what they can to help.
Through the Evil Days is a tension-filled suspense mystery. The winter storm is a bit of a convenient plot device to keep Russ and Clare away, and the connection between the couple's killers (and their foster daughter's kidnappers) and the meth gang seems a bit tenuous, but neither point is all that troubling in this nicely constructed story with a strong cast playing on a well-designed stage. The evolution of the personal lives of the recurring characters keeps this series fresh and offers a good balance to the crime stories of the individual books. Not the best entry in this very good series, but not one to miss, either.
Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of The Betz Review for contributing her review of Through the Evil Days.
Acknowledgment: Minotaur Books provided a copy of Through the Evil Days for this review.
Review Copyright © 2014 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Location(s) referenced in Through the Evil Days: New York State
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Through the Evil Days by Julia Spencer-Fleming — A Clare Fergusson and Russ Van Alstyne Mystery
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Publication Date: November 2013
List Price: $25.99
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Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
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