I often tell Marg (at The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader) that she’s my “reading guru”. We’ve known each other for years, and she never fails to recommend books that I absolutely love. This series is yet another one that I found out about through her, and when I saw that the kindle editions of the first two books were on sale, I jumped at the chance to read them. Normally, I like to review the first book in a series, but in this case I actually enjoyed the second one even more, so that’s the one I’ve decided to write about.
As we’re introduced to them in In the Bleak Midwinter (the first book in the series), Clare Fergusson and Russ Van Alstyne live in the small Adirondack town of Miller’s Kill, New York. Clare has recently moved to Miller’s Kill to serve as the priest of the Episcopalian church, while Russ is the town’s chief of police. As they meet and get to know one another, Clare and Russ find that they have a lot in common, including a background in the military. Their common involvement in a case brings them closer together, although their friendship remains platonic, as Russ is a married man.
In this second book, we find that Clare and Russ have been mainly avoiding each other in the months following the resolution of their case. Clare is beginning to adjust to life in Miller’s Kill, and members of the local community are up in arms about the potential environmental hazard of a new development. When several area homosexual men are savagely attacked, Clare finds herself once again in a position of becoming involved with one of Russ’s cases. She wants to take a stand against what she sees as hate crimes, while Russ wants to keep things quiet so that he has time to solve the case before things get out of hand. However, after Clare stumbles upon a murder which seems linked to the hate crimes and yet also to the new development, she and Russ must work together to try to bring the killer to justice.
One of the reasons that I liked this second book so much was that the plot was quite intricate. There are lots of people involved in the mystery, and trying to figure out who did what and to whom kept my brain busy. I also loved getting to know Clare and Russ–the characters were interesting as introduced in the first book, but in this one I really felt like I started to know them as people, and to understand what made them tick. We get more back story on both of them, and there are scenes that develop their characters in ways that I found fascinating. I loved seeing the drunken, flirty side of Clare as well as seeing her as the strong, commanding helicopter pilot. My favorite scene in the book involves a helicopter flight that Clare and Russ take together, and without giving too much away, it shows so much about both their individual characters and their relationship. The latter is portrayed so realistically–I really felt like I understood why they are so drawn to one another, and yet why they have to maintain their distance, too.
The resolution of the mystery was not especially satisfying, as there are a lot of loose ends, but I have a feeling these characters and issues will be dealt with again at some later point in the series. All in all, a very enjoyable book and a series I can’t wait to dig into further.
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