All Caught Up with the Clare Ferguson Mysteries

What will I do now?  I’m finished with all seven in Julia Spencer-Fleming’s mystery series with Rev. Clare and Chief Russ – and it’s not over yet…

The sixth in the series – I Shall Not Want – has another adventure solving crime case with the unlikely duo of Rev. Clare Ferguson, Episcopal woman priest and weekend warrior Army helicopter pilot, and police Chief Russ Van Alstyne, her true love.  This time the action involves illegal immigrants on the Chief’s sister’s dairy farm, a drug cartel, and money laundering.  Add to that, the requisite murders, chases after the criminals, shootings with near-death of the good guys – and it’s another exciting time in the New York upstate town of Millers Kill.

Spencer-Fleming heats up the romance; this book has the sexiest scenes so far –  not just with Clare and Russ; another romance is brewing on the force with a new policewoman on the beat.  The scene in the smoke from the barn burning with marijuana is probably the funniest so far, but watch out for the tear-jerker at the end.

The last book – published in 2011 – One Was a Soldier – has the contemporary theme of soldiers returning from war.  Clare, with four other local townspeople, meet in a veterans’ support group: a medical doctor who’s having trouble focusing, a track star who’s lost his legs, a woman juggling the love of a combat affair with returning to her husband, and a police officer who cannot control his temper.  Rev. Clare has been hitting the liquor and the pain pills to ease the pain, as she tries to assimilate back into civilization – like her fellow soldiers.  Of course, the action involves murder and the ongoing relationship between Clare and Russ.  Spencer-Fleming resolves most of the post-war trauma, leaving a few strings dangling and with another surprise at the end.

Because I was new to this author, I read through all the books without waiting – like getting all the TV episodes of a popular series at once: no wait to relieve the anxiety from the cliffhangers.  I hope Julia Spencer-Fleming writes the next installment soon – but not too soon – I could use some sleep from staying up all night to find out what happens.

Clare Ferguson Mystery Progress Report

Everyone knows one another in the small town of Millers Kill.  Clare Ferguson, the Episcopal priest is relatively new, but Chief Van Alstyne went to high school with the town leaders and knows the town murderers.  In a complicated plot that includes kidnapping, blackmail, and murder, To Darkness and To Death, the fourth in the Spencer-Fleming series, keeps the suspense high on Chief Van Alstyne’s fiftieth birthday.  Loggers and heirs to a paper mill conflict in the sale of land to a luxury resort.  Rev. Clare is involved in the chase, as she vacillates between a new love interest and her yearning for the married Chief Russ, her soul mate.  Chief Russ has decided to tell his wife about his feelings for Clare.  And the plot thickens…

The next in the series, All Mortal Flesh, opens with a murder – the wife of the Police Chief Van Alsytne.  Both Clare and Russ are suspects, and they are working together again – this time to save themselves.   Another wild mystery ride…I won’t spoil it for you, but Julia Spencer Fleming will keep you reading into the night with this one – with a surprise ending you will not expect.

If you’ve read Julia Spencer-Fleming’s first book – In the Bleak Midwinter – you may have been hooked on both the romance and the murder mystery.  Solving the murders along with the Rev. Clare Ferguson, Episcopal woman priest, and the married police chief, Russ Van Alstyne, is fun and satisfying, but it’s the romance between the two that keeps me looking for the next book.

Spencer-Fleming has 7 in the series; unless you like spoilers, you need to read them in order:

  1. In the Bleak Midwinter
  2. A Fountain Filled with Blood
  3. Out of the Deep I Cry
  4. To Darkness and To Death
  5. All Mortal Flesh
  6. I Shall Not Want
  7. One Was a Soldier