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In the Bleak Midwinter by Julia…
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In the Bleak Midwinter (2002)

by Julia Spencer-Fleming

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Showing 1-5 of 114 (next | show all)
This multi-award winning mystery introduces Clare Fergusson who is the new priest at St. Alban's Episcopal Church in Millers Kill, New York. Clare is an ex-Army helicopter pilot. When a baby is found left at the doorstop of her new church, Clare gets involved in trying to find the baby's mother.

Police Chief Russ Van Alstyne is also on the case. Like Clare, he is former Army who has come home to Millers Kill after his service. When the hunt for the baby's mother leads to a young woman found dead at the verge of the kill, the story gets more complicated.

The story doesn't get any clearer when the young woman (Katie) is identified as a resident of one of the poorer parts of town who had won a scholarship to a nearby university and should have been there. Also complicating things is a note in the box with the baby offering him to a couple of church members who had long been trying for a child. No one can figure out Katie's connection to the church and no one knows who the father of the baby is.

Katie's sister identifies the body and accuses her father of the murder. After all, he abused her for years until she could graduate from high school and get away from him. He sounds like a great suspect until he too is found murdered.

While Clare and Russ are investigating, they develop a strong friendship based both on their backgrounds and their current loneliness. The relationship could be edging into a romance but for the fact the Russ is married.

The writing was compelling and certainly didn't give any indication that this was a first novel. The pacing was great and the mystery complex. The story was filled with tension beyond Russ and Clare's personal relationship.

I really enjoyed this novel and look forward to reading more in the series. ( )
  kmartin802 | Jul 8, 2019 |
Clare Ferguson, an Episcopalian priest and former Army officer, finds a newborn baby right before Christmas on the steps of her parish church with a note asking that the baby be given to a childless couple in the parish. Later there is a murder of a young girl assumed to be the mother. Clare teams up with the chief of police of this upstate New York town to find the murderer and the truth.

The title, In the bleak midwinter refers to the poem by Christina Rossetti which was set to music and has become a standard Christmas hymn in the Episcopal Church. It is also pertinent to the innocent child who only needs love and affection - a theme running throughout the book. An interesting mystery and an author well worth following. ( )
  fdholt | Jun 27, 2019 |
Former Army helicopter pilot Clare Fergusson is the newly-assigned priest for the small Episcopal church in Millers Kill, New York. Her Army days have given her a blunt manner and a tendency to speak her mind, attributes that don’t sit well with some members of her new congregation.

An infant abandoned on the church steps and a murdered young mother aren’t what she’d expected to greet her arrival, but Clare soon finds herself in the midst of small-town secrets and facing an unexpected attraction to the married chief of police, Russ Van Alstyne. Will faith and unyielding doggedness be enough to see her through and bring the murderer to justice?

Well-defined, believable characters populate the narrative and Clare’s inner conflict gives depth to the telling of the tale. At first, Clare and Russ seem to be polar opposites: he’s the jaded, weary police chief; she sees the bright side of all things and the goodness in everyone. But they both have an Army background and may prove to be kindred spirits.

A strong sense of place strengthens the narrative while the complex, twisty plot keeps the pages turning as readers try to solve the mystery. This award-winner, first in a series, gives readers much to appreciate and much to look forward to as the series progresses.

Highly recommended. ( )
  jfe16 | Jun 17, 2019 |
This is a better than average mystery--a 3.5. It's an interesting approach to team up a female Episcopalian priest with an atheist chief of police, but I'm not a fan of the inappropriate romantic attraction between the two. I'll try the second in the series to see if I want to continue. ( )
  tkcs | Feb 23, 2019 |
This is the first in a cozy mystery series. It is set in a small town in upper New York State. The accidental detective is an Episcopalian pastor who was a former army pilot. She is headstrong and full of heart. The chief of police, also former military, came back to his hometown to head up the department. The plot: abandoned baby, murder, family dysfunction in a wide array of socio economic class. The plot moves along its path with enough detail and enough suspense to keep the reader going. Cozy mystery tropes always feel contrived to me but they make for great “cozy” reading when you are looking to destress or just not think too much. I will keep the series on my radar and wander through it one book at a time. ( )
  beebeereads | Dec 12, 2018 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Spencer-Fleming, Juliaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Toren, SuzanneReadermain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dimsdale, EdCover photosecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Trossbach, StefanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Winter must be cold for those with no warm memories.
--Delmer Daves and Leo McCary
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To Leslie
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It was one hell of a night to throw away a baby.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312986769, Mass Market Paperback)

Heavy Snow...Icy Desires...Cold-Blooded Murder
 
Clare Fergusson, St. Alban's new priest, fits like a square peg in the conservative Episcopal parish at Millers Kill, New York. She is not just a "lady," she's a tough ex-Army chopper pilot, and nobody's fool. Then a newborn infant left at the church door brings her together with the town's police chief, Russ Van Alstyne, who's also ex-Army and a cynical good shepherd for the stray sheep of his hometown. Their search for the baby's mother quickly leads them into the secrets that shadow Millers Kill like the ever-present Adirondacks. What they discover is a world of trouble, an attraction to each other—and murder...
 
In the Bleak Midwinter was Julia Spencer-Fleming's first novel, and it won a Macavity Award, an Agatha Award, an Anthony Award, and a Dilys Award.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:11 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Clare Fergusson, St. Alban's new priest, fits like a square peg in the conservative Episcopal parish at Miller's Kill, New York. She is not just a "lady"; she's a tough ex-Army chopper pilot, and nobody's fool. Then a newborn infant left at the church door brings her together with the town's police chief, Russ Van Alstyne, who's also ex-Army and a cynical good shepherd for the stray sheep of his hometown. Their search for the baby's mother quickly leads them into the secrets that shadow Miller's Kill like the ever-present Adirondacks. What they discover is a world of trouble, an attraction to each other and murder.

» see all 7 descriptions

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