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In the Bleak Midwinter: A Clare…

In the Bleak Midwinter: A Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alsyne Novel (Russ Van… (original 2002; edition 2012)

by Julia Spencer-Fleming

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Title:In the Bleak Midwinter: A Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alsyne Novel (Russ Van Alstyne and Clare Fergusson)
Authors:Julia Spencer-Fleming
Info:Minotaur Books (2012), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 320 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:mystery, New York, police, priest

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In the Bleak Midwinter by Julia Spencer-Fleming (2002)



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Showing 1-5 of 100 (next | show all)
I have a new go to series to recommend to readers looking for mysteries featuring a complex and well developed main character. That character would be Clare Fergusson, an Episcopal priest adjusting to her new assignment at St. Alban's in upstate New York. Clare is a southerner by birth, and she has just as much trouble adjusting to the winter weather of the region as the townspeople have adjusting to a female priest who used to be an Army helicopter pilot. She forms an instant connection with Russ Van Alstyne, the local police chief. They meet when she discovers an abandoned newborn on the steps of the church--a newborn with a note directing the finder to make sure that he is adopted by a couple that attend her church. As Clare assists with the initial stages of the investigation that follows, she becomes more and more intrigued with the mystery behind it--and Russ becomes more and more intrigued with her. Murder, messiness, and a few heart pounding scenes follow as Russ and Clare both try to make sense of the relationships that have led to violence. I listened to the very well narrated audio version of this book, and several times I was not able to turn it off until a particularly suspenseful scene had been resolved. I appreciated the fact that Clare is a tough woman who can take care of herself, yet she also has a faith in the Almighty that she calls upon in times of need. Her concern for people and her commitment to her ideals rubs up against the equally strong character of Russ Van Alstyne, who is concerned with justice and with stopping the criminal at all costs. The sparks that fly between them create another layer of complication to the story, as Russ is a married man. I would gladly listen to more books from this series, though I'd be sure to plan for not being able to turn it off after just a few minutes, LOL. ( )
  debs4jc | May 10, 2016 |
This book was recommended by John at Murder by The Books. Very good and the last 100 pages are edge of your seat as the suspects are ticked off. ( )
  yvonne.sevignykaiser | Apr 2, 2016 |
In the first book of the series we are introduced to Russ Van Alstyne, Chief of Police in the small town of Miller's Kill, New York and the Reverend Clare Ferguson, newly ordained priest of St. Alban's Episcopal Church and former Army helicopter pilot.

They meet when Clare finds a newborn baby wrapped in blankets outside the church. The person who left the baby also left a note asking that the baby be given to a local couple who have been desperate to adopt a child, Geoffrey and Karen Burns. Since the Burns' are also members of the church Van Alstyne thinks there may be some connection to one of the birth parents. Clare asks Russ to accompany him on his patrol one night and they discover a young murdered girl who turns out to be the baby's mother.

As they continue to investigate, the married agnostic chief and the impulsive priest become attracted to each other. They have a lot in common even though it might not seem like it. They both have a need to pursue justice, one through the law and one through religious convictions. The relationship between Russ and Clare is well done and I'm curious to see how it progresses.

Don't be put off by the fact that one of the protagonists is a priest. Clare is much more than that. The religious aspects of the mystery are not heavy handed at all. The pacing is action packed and the author creates a very vivid Adirondack winter atmosphere. My only complaint about the book is the way Clare is constantly dashing off and putting herself in jeopardy. It reminds me of those movies where the audience knows the serial killer is inside the house and the heroine goes in alone. It seemed a tad unbelievable to me. I won't that keep me from discovering what happens in the next book of this entertaining series. ( )
  Olivermagnus | Jan 17, 2016 |
A murder mystery taking place in a small Adirondack town and told from the points of view of the police chief (Russ) and the new priest at the Episcopalian church (Clare). The story starts with a baby abandoned at the doorstep of the church, with things eventually escalating to murder. I really enjoyed the set-up of this novel with the police chief and the priest and their differing goals and the methods they bring to trying to help people and find the truth. I was intrigued by the mystery itself, although I did get a little tired of it before it got resolved (especially during the penultimate "action" bit in the woods). There's a slow burn between Russ and Clare (that's not really a spoiler--it's pretty obvious things are going that way very early) which is interesting and brings up some intriguing moral issues (Russ being married). I'll probably read the next one some day. ( )
  lycomayflower | Nov 27, 2015 |
Woman priest (Episcopal) who is an Army vet. My kind of protagonist. When a newborn infant is left at the church's doorstep, Clare Fergusson teams up with the town's police chief. When the newly discovered baby's mother is murdered, well there's more than meets the eye in the small town of Millers Kill. Struggle through the middle of winter in the New York Adirondacks to find a murder who strikes more than one and you've got a mystery. ( )
  melsbks | Apr 1, 2015 |
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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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Winter must be cold for those with no warm memories.
--Delmer Daves and Leo McCary
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)

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"It's a cold, snowy December in the upstate New York town of Millers Kill, and newly ordained Clare Fergusson is on thin ice as the first female priest of its small Episcopal church. The ancient regime running the parish covertly demands that she prove herself as a leader. However, her blunt manner, honed by years as an Army pilot, is meeting with a chilly reception from some members of her congregation, and Chief of Police Russ Van Alystyne, in particular, doesn't know what to make of her or how to address "a lady priest, " for that matter." "The last thing she needs is trouble, but that is exactly what she finds. When a newborn baby is abandoned on the church stairs and a young mother is brutally murdered, Clare has to pick her way through the secrets and silence that shadow the town like the ever-present Adirondack Mountains. As the days dwindle down and the attraction between the avowed priest and the married police chief grows, Clare will need all her faith, tenacity, and courage to stand fast against a killer's icy heart."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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