A pivotal book in this award-winning series, and nominated for the prestigious Edgar Award for Best NovelJulia Spencer-Fleming's Out of the Deep I Cry is a triumph not to be missed.
On April 1, 1930, Jonathan Ketchem's wife Jane walked from her house to the police department to ask for help in finding her husband. The men, worn out from a night of chasing bootleggers, did what they could. But no one ever saw Jonathan Ketchem again...
Now decades later, someone else is missing in Miller's Kill, NY. This time it's the physician of the clinic that bears the Ketchem name. Suspicion falls on a volatile single mother with a grudge against the doctor, but Reverend Clare Fergusson isn't convinced. As Clare and Russ investigate, they discover that the doctor's disappearance is linked to a bloody trail going all the way back to the hardscrabble Prohibition era. As they draw ever closer to the truth, their attraction for each other grows increasingly more difficult to resist. And their search threatens to uncover secrets that snake from one generation to the next-and to someone who's ready to kill.
About the Author
Bestselling author Julia Spencer-Fleming is the winner of the Agatha, Anthony, Macavity, Dilys, Barry, Nero Wolfe, and Gumshoe Awards, and an Edgar and Romantic Times RC Award finalist. She was born at Plattsburgh Air Force Base, spending most of her childhood on the move as an army brat. She studied acting and history at Ithaca College, and received her J.D. from the University of Maine School of Law. She lives in a 190-year-old farmhouse outside of Portland, Maine.
Read an Excerpt
Out of the Deep I CryA Clare Fergusson and Russ Van Alstyne Novel
By Julia Spencer-Fleming
Minotaur BooksCopyright © 2012 Julia Spencer-Fleming
All right reserved.
OUT OF THE DEEP I CRY (Chapter 1)THEN
Friday, June 26, 1970
Russ Van Alstyne had just gotten a tug on his line when he saw the old lady get up from between the headstones she had been trimming, lay down her gardening tools, and walk into the reservoir. She had been tidying up a tiny plot, four moldering grave markers tucked under the towering black pines, so close to the edge of Stewart's Pond Reservoir that a good motorboat wake could have kicked spray over the stones. She had appeared at some point after he and Shaun had launched their rowboat, and he had noted her, now and then, while they had drifted in the sunshine.
They had been fishing a couple hours already, enjoying the hot weather, and some brews, and some primo grass Shaun's older brother had scored down to Albany, but Russ had only landed a few sunnies, crap fish he threw back as soon as he had them off the hook.
So when his six-pound test tightened like a piano wire and his bobber disappeared beneath the water, he sat up, excited. He knew he had something good. Maybe a trout. He had just stowed his can of Pabst Blue Ribbon in the bottom of the boat and flicked off his safety to let the fish run some more line when he noticed the old woman. She had on a loose print dress, like one of the housecoats his mom had had forever, and it rose around her legs as she waded slowly away from the shore.
"Shaun, check this out," he said, uncertain that he was reading the situation right. "What's it look like that old lady's doing?"
Shaun turned his head, swinging his graduation tassel, which he had attached to his fishing hat. He twisted his upper body around for a better view. "Swimming?"
"In a dress?"
"Works for me, man. I don't want to see her in a swimsuit." Shaun turned back, facing away from the sight of the old woman marching into the water. His line jerked. "I got a strike!" He unlocked his reel and played out his line. "Relax, I've run the boat over that way before. The bottom slopes out a long ways."
She was up to her chest now, moving steadily forward, not stroking with her arms or ducking under the surface like people do when taking a dip. "She's not swimming," Russ said. "She's not even trying." He looked past her, to where a patchy trail led from the little cemetery, through the trees, and eventually up to the county road. There wasn't anyone there to keep an eye on her. She was alone. He thrust his rod at Shaun and tugged off his sneakers. He could reach her faster swimming than he could rowing. He stood up, violently pitching the little boat.
"Hey! Are you crazy? You're gonna swamp us!" Shaun twisted on his seat in time to see the old woman's chin sliding into the water. "Oh, shit," he said.
Russ shoved his jeans down and kicked them off, knocking over both their beers in the process. He balanced one foot on the hull's edge and launched himself into the water.
Even in mid-June the reservoir was cold, still gorged on the icy spring runoff from the Adirondacks. His whole body flinched inward, but he struck out for the shore: long, hard strokes through the water, his face dipping rhythmically in, out, in; sacrificing his view of her for the speed. He drew up to where the shadow of the somber pines split the water into light and dark. He treaded water, spinning around, looking for a sign of her. She had vanished.
"She went there!" Shaun yelled. He was struggling to get the rowboat turned around. "There, a couple yards to your left!"
Russ took a deep breath and submerged. In the deep twilight of the water, he could just see her, a pale wraith flickering at the edge of his vision. As he arrowed toward her, she emerged from the gloom like a photograph being developed. She was still walking downward, that was what was so creepy, toes brushing against the coarse-grained bottom, flowered dress billowing, white hair floating. She was still walking downward like a drowned ghost, and then, as if she could hear the pounding of his heart, she turned and looked at him, open-eyed under the water. Her eyes were black, set in a white, withered face. It was like having a dead woman stare at him.
He was an easy swimmer, confident in the water, but at her look, he panicked. He opened his mouth, lost his air, and struck up wildly for the surface, thrashing, kicking. He emerged choking and spluttering, hacking and gulping air. Shaun was rowing toward him, still a couple dozen yards away, and he knelt up on the bench when he saw Russ. "Can you find her?" he shouted. "Are you okay?" Unable to speak, Russ raised his hand. Shaun's hand froze on the oar. "Jesus! She's not dead already?"
She wasn't yet, but she would be if he didn't get his act together and haul her out of the water. Without letting himself think about it any further, Russ took a deep breath and doubled over, back into the deep. This time when she appeared in his sight he ignored her face and concentrated on wrapping his arm around her chin in the standard lifesaving position. She struggled against him, clawing at his arm and pulling his hair, which was almost a relief compared to her weird, ghost-like walking. Something normal, something he could deal with. He tightened his grip and churned upward, his free arm aching with the effort, her dress tangling his legs. Before he reached the surface, he felt her go limp. How many minutes since she walked in? Time yawned open. It felt like he had been under the lake forever. When he split the water, hauling her with him, she drifted, slack, held up by his arm beneath her chin.
Oh no you don't. He turned onto his back and stroked hard toward shore, floating her near his chest, so lost in the rhythm of pull and breath and kick that he didn't realize he was there until he reached back and hit coarse grit instead of cold water. He rolled to his knees and half dragged, half carried the old lady onto the grass. He pinched her nose, tilted her head back, and began mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Blow. Breath. Blow. Breath.
He heard the scrape of the rowboat's keel and then Shaun was there, falling to his knees on the other side of the old lady's head. He pushed against Russ's shoulder. "Let me take a turn, man," he said. "You need to get a breath for yourself." Russ nodded. He watched as Shaun picked up his rhythm, and then Russ let himself collapse into the grass.
He heard a gargling cough and shoved himself out of the way as Shaun rolled the old lady to her side. She gasped, choked, and then vomited up a startling quantity of water. She started to cry weakly. He met Shaun's eyes over her shoulder. Shaun spread his hands and shrugged. Now what?
Russ staggered back onto his feet. Curled up on her side, weeping, the woman didn't look scary anymore, just old and lost. "I think we ought to get her to the hospital," Russ said. "Run up the trail and see if she parked a car beside the road."
Swinging wide around the tiny cemetery, Shaun loped to the overgrown path and disappeared from view. Russ returned to the rowboat and dragged it up onto the grass as far as he could. He retrieved his jeans--stinking of beer--and his sneakers, and had just finished getting dressed when Shaun ran back down the trail.
" 'Sup there," he panted, pointing toward the road. "Keys in the ignition and all."
"Good." Russ knelt by the old woman and carefully pulled her into a sitting position. "Ma'am? Can you walk? What's your name?"
The old lady leaned against his shoulder. She wasn't exactly crying anymore, but making deep, shaky sounds like a little kid. She didn't seem to hear him. He wondered if she was senile, and if so, what she was doing driving around by herself. He looked back at Shaun. "I think we need to carry her."
"What about our stuff?" Shaun pointed to the boat. "It's not just the fishing tackle, man. I still have"--he dropped his voice, as if a narc might be hiding behind one of the headstones--"almost an ounce of grass in there."
The woman gave a rattling sigh and lapsed into a still silence that made Russ uneasy. "Bring it," he said. "Or hide it. This lady needs help. We gotta get her to a doctor."
"Oh, shit," Shaun said. "Okay." He strode to the rowboat and grabbed the backpack he used to carry his paraphernalia. "But if anything happens to the boat, you're gonna be the one who explains it to my dad."
Russ laughed, a short, sharp sound. "Fine. I'm not gonna be around long enough for him to kick my ass."
They laced their hands together and eased the woman into a seat carry. With Shaun on the other side, she didn't weigh as much as some of the sacks Russ toted for customers at Greuling's Grocery. The trail up to the county road was less than a half mile, and within ten minutes they burst out of the shade of the pines and into open air and brilliant sunshine. Shaun jerked his head toward a '59 Rambler wagon. Two-toned: baby-shit brown and tired tan. Russ pulled open the back door and shut his eyes for a moment against the wave of thick, moist heat that rolled out of the car.
"Where should we put her?" Shaun asked.
"Lay her down in the backseat." Russ looked in the rear for a blanket or a coat to lay under her, but there was nothing except more gardening equipment.
They stretched the woman out on the sticky plastic seat. She looked clammy and paler than before. Russ had a sudden image of himself and Shaun driving into town in an overheated granny car with a corpse in the back. He shuddered.
"Yeah, sure. You want to drive?"
Shaun held up his hands. "No way, man. If we get stopped, I don't want the cops getting too close to me." He sniffed his shirt. "Can you smell it on me?"
Russ rolled his eyes. "You know it's good stuff if it's making you 'noid." He slid into the driver's seat and adjusted it back to fit his long frame. "Hop in."
The ride into Millers Kill passed in silence. Russ was concentrating on driving as fast as he could. Shaun was tense, hissing between his teeth whenever Russ took a corner too tightly, gripping his seat if another car went past them. And in the back was--nothing. Russ couldn't even hear the old lady breathe. As they passed from the forest down into the rolling farmland, the back of his neck began to creep. He couldn't shake the idea that if he turned around, he would see her lying there, wet, unbreathing, looking at him with her black eyes. He was grateful when they came to the town and he had to focus on navigating through the stop-and-go traffic.
He pulled into emergency parking at the Washington County Hospital and killed the engine. Shaun looked at him. "Well?" he said. "Let's get her in there."
Russ forced himself to twist in his seat and check behind him. And, of course, he saw nothing except an unconscious old lady. His shoulders twitched at the sudden release of tension. "Yeah," he said to Shaun.
If he had been less weirded out and more on top of things, he would have gone into the emergency room, fetched out a couple of nurses, and had them wheel the old lady into the place themselves. He thought of it, later, but at the time, sliding her out of the Rambler seemed like the most logical thing to do. He took her feet and Shaun took her shoulders. He was so intent on avoiding a collision while walking backward that he didn't see the commotion their entrance caused. Shaun did, though, and nearly dropped the woman on her head.
"For Chrissake, Shaun, don't just--"
"What are you boys doing?" The nurse bearing down on them had a bosom like the prow of a battleship, and the face to match. In one swift move, she caught the old woman's wrist lightly in one hand while digging her other fingers bone-deep into Russ's shoulder.
"Ow!" he said. "We're not doing anything!"
"Is this your grandmother?"
"I don't know who it is! We just found her. At Stewart's Pond. She walked into the water. She tried to drown herself."
She sized him up with a single flick of her eyelashes, and even though she barely came up to his chest, she somehow managed to speak over his head. "Skelly, McClaren, get that gurney over here." She glared at Shaun, who was looking longingly at the exit doors. "Don't even think about moving, young man."
Two nurses scarcely older than Shaun and Russ rolled a pallet over. One of them glanced sympathetically at Russ. The battleship let go of his shoulder in order to ease the old woman onto the gurney.
"Into the examination room," she said to the other nurses, who obeyed her with such speed that Russ figured she must terrorize everybody she came into contact with. She hooked her hands around his and Shaun's arms and followed the gurney, towing them past the admissions desk and through the swinging double doors into the examination room. She bulldozed through a square of limp blue curtains shielding the old woman from public view. "Get Dr. Hansvoort," she said firmly. One of the young nurses disappeared. "Well, don't just stand there," she told the remaining nurse. "Get her vitals. Ah, Dr. Hansvoort. Thank you for coming so promptly."
The young resident who had parted the curtains looked as if he wouldn't have dared take his time. "Nurse Vigue?"
She rattled Russ's and Shaun's arms. "All right, you two. Tell Dr. Hansvoort here what happened." She narrowed her eyes. "Truthfully."
Russ and Shaun fell all over themselves trying to get their story out. While they described the woman's strange actions, Russ's dive to rescue her, and the mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, Dr. Hansvoort clicked on a penlight and looked into his patient's eyes, nose, and throat.
When they had finished their recital--Shaun's last comment had been ". . . and so we'd like to go now, please"--the doctor frowned.
"Attempted suicide," he said to Nurse Vigue. "Or perhaps senile dementia. You had better put a call in to the police."
"My thoughts exactly," she said, nodding her approval at the doctor's performance. She captured Shaun and Russ again and sailed them back through the swinging doors into the waiting room. "You boys sit here. The police will have questions about this incident."
And if they don't, Russ thought, she'll make sure to tell them they ought to.
"But," Shaun began.
"Sit." She arched a thinly plucked brow at them and seemed to soften a little. "We have quite a few back issues of Boy's Life magazine. I'm sure you'll enjoy reading them."
"For God's sake, sit down and read," Russ muttered to Shaun, taking a chair himself and opening the first magazine at hand.
Two issues of Popular Mechanics later, the emergency-room doors opened and Russ looked up to see the weather-beaten face of Chief Liddle. He was neither large nor intimidating--in fact, he looked more like a farmer than a cop--but both boys sank in their seats when he glanced their way.
The chief spoke briefly with Nurse Vigue and then vanished into the examination room. "Now you're screwed," Shaun whispered. "He's had his eye on you ever since he caught us torching tires at the dump."
Russ shook his head. "I'm not scared of him," he said, and it was true. He had seen the chief a few too many times, back before his dad passed away, gently steering the incoherent and maudlin Walter Van Alstyne up the front walk and into the parlor. The chief always said the same thing: "He's had a few too many, Margy. I guess he needs to sleep it off." Then he'd look real close into Russ's mom's face and ask, "You be all right here with him while he's like this?"
And she would get all brisk and efficient and tell him they would make out fine, and then they'd help Dad to his bed and she'd press a cup of coffee--usually refused--on the chief.
It wasn't until after his dad was dead that Russ realized what the chief had really been asking his mom, and when he did, it enraged him, that anyone could think his gentle, soft-spoken father would ever harm his mother. But later, he thought about how the chief had always acted as if Walter Van Alstyne's drunkenness was a onetime thing, and how careful he was of his mom's pride. And he realized the question wasn't that far-fetched after all. Because in his own way, his dad had hurt his mom a lot.
When the chief had caught him drinking Jack Daniel's and leading a group of seniors in lighting tires on fire and rolling them downhill from the dump, he had hauled Russ behind his cruiser for a talking-to. To the rest of the guys, it must have looked as if Russ had missed getting arrested by the skin of his teeth. But in truth, Liddle hadn't threatened him with the lockup. Instead, he had looked at Russ as though he had been stealing from a church, and said, "Russell, don't you think your mother's been through enough without you grieving her with this kind of foolishness? How are you going to look her in the eye if I have to bring you home . . ." he didn't say just like your father. He didn't have to.
Russ didn't have the words to tell this to Shaun, so he just grunted and snapped open a year-old Life magazine. It showed pictures of a massive antiwar demonstration. He shut it again, leaned back against the vinyl seat, and closed his eyes. This was supposed to have been a fun day fishing, one last day when he didn't have to be anywhere or do anything. Now it was all turned to crap.
"You boys want to tell me what happened?"
Russ opened his eyes. Chief Liddle stood in front of them, his thumbs hooked into his gun belt. Russ and Shaun clambered to their feet, and Russ let Shaun rattle on about the fishing and the old woman and the rescue and the resuscitation. He wound it up by explaining how they had driven the old woman's car to the hospital, then said, "Can I please go and call my mom to come get us? Because I just now realized we need a ride back to the lake to pick up my car."
The chief looked at both of them closely. He sniffed. "You two smell like the Dew Drop Inn on a Saturday night."
Shaun's eyes got wide and white.
"It's me, sir," Russ said. "I had a couple beers. But it's not as bad as it smells--I knocked 'em over when I took my jeans off to go after the old lady. That's why I stink so bad."
The chief shook his head. "Russell--," he began.
"Russ is leaving for the army next week," Shaun blurted. "You know what they say, Chief. 'If you're old enough to fight for your country . . .'"
"You aren't going, are you?" Chief Liddle asked Shaun.
"Then I suggest you hush up and stay away from booze where I can smell you. Go on, go call your mother." Shaun didn't have to be told twice. He took off for the pay phone at the other end of the hall. Liddle looked straight at Russ, and the fact that the chief now had to look up to meet his eyes gave Russ a weird, disoriented feeling, like the time after his dad's service when Mr. Kilmer, the funeral director, had asked for 'Mr. Van Alstyne's signature' and he had realized that that was him, that he was 'Mr. Van Alstyne' now.
"Is it true?" the chief said.
"You volunteer, or did your number come up?"
Russ paused. "My number came up."
"And you're leaving next week?"
The chief bit the inside of his cheek. "How's your mom taking it?"
"About as well as you'd expect."
"I'll make sure to drop in on her now and again. To keep an eye on things."
To do Russ's job for him. "I'm sure she'll appreciate that."
The chief looked as if he were going to say something else, but he merely extended his hand. "Good luck to you, then." They shook. "I don't need you to make a statement. You can go."
The chief cocked an eyebrow at him.
"Who is that old lady? And why was she going into the reservoir like that?"
The deep lines around the chief's eyes crinkled faintly. "Curious, are you?"
Liddle glanced toward the emergency-room doors. "That's Mrs. Ketchem."
"Ketchem? Like the clinic? And the dairy?"
"That's the one."
"But she must be rich!"
The chief smiled at him. "If she is, you can't prove it by me. Rich or poor, all folks have troubles, Russell."
"Was that why she was trying to, you know, kill herself?"
The chief stopped smiling. "I'm going to call that an accident. She's an old woman, working out in the sun, getting up and down . . . it's natural she became disoriented. Her daughter and son-in-law moved back to the area recently. I'll have a talk with them. Maybe we can persuade Mrs. Ketchem that it's time to give up her house and move in with them."
"But she wasn't disoriented. She was walking into that water like you'd walk into the men's room. She knew exactly what she was doing."
Chief Liddle gave him a look that somehow made him draw closer. "Attempted suicide is a crime, Russell. It might require a competency hearing and an involuntary committal at the Infirmary. Now, as long as she has family to take charge of her, I don't think she needs to go through that, do you?"
"But what if she's . . . I don't know, sick in the head or something?"
Liddle shook his head. "She's not going off her rocker. She's just old and tired. Even her sorrows are older than most of the folks around her these days. Sometimes, the weight of all that living just presses down on a person and sort of squashes them flat."
Russ thought that if that's what old age brought, he'd rather go out young in a blaze of glory. His feeling must have shown on his face, because the chief smiled at him again. "Not that it's anything you have to worry about." He shook his hand again. "Go on with your friend there. It looks like he's done with his phone call. And keep your head down when you're over there. We want you to come home safe."
And that ended his day's adventure. At least until that night, when he woke up his mother, yelling, from the first nightmare he could remember since he was ten. And in later years, even after he had walked, awake, through nightmares of men blown to a pulp and helicopters falling out of the sky, he still sometimes remembered the sensation of sinking into the cool, dark water. The pale, withered face. The black, black eyes. And he would shiver.
OUT OF THE DEEP I CRY Copyright © 2004 Julia Spencer-Fleming.
Excerpted from Out of the Deep I Cry by Julia Spencer-Fleming Copyright © 2012 by Julia Spencer-Fleming. Excerpted by permission.
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Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is an above-average novel on a number of levels: a complex but not mind-numbing mystery not fully explained until the very end, rich characterization and world-building, fine writing, original characters and setting. A really excellent read.
These books keep getting better and better. I really loved how this mystery kept going back and forth between the present and past and how it wasn't solved until the very end.
The mystery plot is very engaging and definitely keeps me guessing. But, I am reading this series because of the relationship between Clare and Russ. Wow. Theirs is such a complicated relationship -- unlike any I have read before. Clare is a priest and Russ a married police chief. They are such good people -- always considerate and driven by doing the right thing to help others. And yet, they are soulmates. I am amazed at how Julia Spencer-Fleming can write interactions and conversations between them that makes believe in them. And of course, there is heartache because there is no way for them to be together without pain and guilt. I can't wait to move on to the next one in the series.
3rd in the Reverend Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne series.A beautifully constructed book. The story starts off with a flashback to 1970, when a young Russ Van Alstyne, about to enter the Army to go to Vietnam, rescues an old woman, Jane Ketchem, from attempted suicide by drowning. Fast forward to the ¿Now¿, where Clare is faced with an extremely serious, expensive roof repair on the church and no apparent way to raise money before the roof literally falls in.The story alternates between flashbacks involving Jane Ketchem that occur in the ever more distant past and the present, with Ketchem, although long dead, still affecting events through her daughter, Lacey Marshall, a member of the vestry of St. Albans, and Dr. Rouse, who for 30 years has headed the free clinic founded by Ketchem. The latter disappears, the only real ¿mystery¿ in the plot, and in the search for him, Ketchem¿s past comes to light by bits and pieces. Clare, of course, not your typical Episcopalian (or any other) priest, indulges her adrenaline junkie side and becomes far more involved in the affair than she should be. All this leads to a very exciting denouement, and a final, tragic revelation.The writing has picked up¿still that same indefinable but distinct Spencer-Fleming style that suits her character and setting so well, but more creative, more imaginative, and some of the minor characters are less stereotypical. The romantic tension between Clare and Russ is well done and moves that aspect of the series forward. The plot is unusual, and is handled in a truly superior fashion, with the flashbacks adding appropriate information at crucial points. The same wry, self-deprecating humor is there, although not quite so present as in the first two books. Russ and Clare continue to develop as characters, whose lives are interesting to the reader. Another thing that Spencer-Fleming does well is to integrate the religious aspect very well into the story. Having been involved in a minor way with church affairs, the personalities of the vestry and the way they approach decisions is absolutely dead on. Clare¿s beliefs are in perfect alignment with her very human character.This is a superb installment in the series, the best so far. Highly recommended.
Someone I know was flipping out about this book, saying it is the best in the series. And it is! Which is what I think about every book in this series right after I'm done with it! I love Clare and Russ, I love how they work together and I love all of the characters in Millers Kill. This one is a little different from the first two in that it starts off facing a social issue (immunizations and autism), but branches off into a mystery from the 1920s and 30s - which, oh man, blew my mind.
This story spans a few generations, what happened in the past is coming to roost in the present and there's a bit of a message here about vaccination. In 1930 Jonathan Ketchem's wife Jane declared that her husband had left, leaving her with their only remaining child. Decades later her legacy of a clinic is under threat and it's doctor disappears.Clare Fergusson and Russ Alstyne both try to stay apart but their relationship is fraught and they both are trying to do the right thing. I did see some of the story coming but it was still entertaining. Also the message about vaccination was a little heavy-handed
When the local doctor disappears from the small town of Millers Kill, NY. It doesn't take long for the gossipmongers to start insinuating foul play. Amidst escalating suspicions that he was "disposed of" due to his ongoing fight against authorities to cut his clinic's funding. Episcopal priest Clare Fergusson and Police Chief Russ van Alstyne are enlisted to investigate. Neither could have bargained for what they discover, however, as they pursue an investigation that takes them deep into the past - to the Jazz Age, Prohibition, and the Great Depression - and to a series of sordid and horrifying secrets one family will risk everything to keep hidden.
This series continues to be enjoyable if not exactly compelling. The characters are likable; the relationship between Clare and Russ adds tension but is handled well. Much of the suspense in the series is how this will be resolved in a satisfactory way without compromising the core values of either character¿or will these values be overthrown. In this third novel there are two somewhat parallel mysteries that relate to each other. The mystery in the present concerns the disappearance of the doctor who heads up a clinic for the poor that is funded partly by the town and partly by a trust fund set up by the widow of the man for whom the clinic is named. The parallel mystery is told in flash backs and concerns the mysterious disappearance in 1930 of the man for whom the clinic is named, and for whose memorial the clinic was established. The story is told by alternating sections entitled ¿Now¿ and ¿Then¿. It is intriguing the way the story is told, especially as the ¿Then¿ sections are not told in chronological order as more and more relevant information is revealed. It was the flash back part of the story I found most intriguing and also that held the most surprises for me. The modern story I had pretty well figured out by half way into the book. I use this series as light and relaxing entertainment and this novel provided me a very enjoyable morning ¿vacation.¿
Very sad, and, for me, depressing story.
Julia Spencer-Fleming has dished up a double mystery, decades apart, in this the third book in the Clare Fergusson/Russ Alstyne mystery series. And by the end, I was looking for extra helpings. This series is getting better and better.In 1930, Jonathan Ketcham¿s wife, Jane, went to the police to report her husband missing. Search as they may, he was never found and Jane went on to raise her only child, Solace, by herself.Fast forward to the present and the good Reverend Clare is dealing with a large and unsightly leaking roof in the church. The question is do we do an inexpensive temporary repair or the much more expensive, historically accurate restoration? And if we opt for the expensive overhaul, where would the money come from? In steps Trustee Lacey Marshall, whose mother, Jane Ketcham, left an endowment for the operation of a local free clinic for those w/o health insurance. She can use her judgment as to whether or not to continue the clinic or transfer the funds to another charitable clause and she would like to fix the leaky roof. Upon notification of the impending loss of funding, the clinic¿s head, Dr. Rouse, suddenly disappears.There you have it: two missing persons, over eighty years apart, yet connected. It¿s up to Police Chief Russ Alstyne (and of course Clare because, well, that¿s what she does) to solve the present day crime while at the same time, uncovering the mystery behind the disappearance of Jonathan Ketcham.I am really enjoying this series and have to say that the author¿s excellent narrative style, character development, and deftly construed, multi-layered plot, weaving past and present, kept me furiously turning pages. Highlighted by a confrontation with a gun-wielding distraught wife and a dicey escape from drowning, we are, of course, left high and dry as to the romance that continues to kindle, whetting my appetite for the next installment. Highly recommended.
Not the usual sort of mystery I tend to pick up. I had a hard time getting into this book but about a third of the way in in picked up pace. Good characters.
Two stories, a "Then" and a "Now" are intertwined as the reader listens to first one and then the other throughout the book. At first, the reader wonders what one has to do with the other, but the back-fill quickly becomes apparent, and also becomes a mystery all its own. This is #3 in the continuing saga of Clare Ferguson Episcopal priest and Russ Van Alstyn the married (not to her) chief of Police, and the romance is heating up. Clare and Russ now have gotten a tad bit physical, but also a bit more pragmatic about the hopelessness of their relationship. In this episode, Clare is trying to trace the provenance of a huge chunk of money being donated to fix the church's roof, while she helps look for the local clinic doctor who has disappeared. The plot twists in this one are serpentine, but delightful. Without doing spoilers, I will warn that if, like me you are claustrophobic, you might want to read (or listen) to this one in the day time in a big airy well-lit room. The climas is a scary stunner. Regular readers will delight in the ongoing adventures, while newcomers will have no trouble picking right up.
Reverend Clare Ferguson has a problem at St Albans - the roof is leaking. Presenting her need for funding to repair the roof, the vestry members are stunned when Lacey Marshall offers to end her mother's trust which supports the local free clinic and give the funds to the church for the repairs.Feeling that she needed to be present when the Doctor at the clinic is told that his funding is being withdrawn, Clare goes to the clinic with Lacey where they are confronted by protesters. After matters settle, Dr. Rouse from the clinic disappears. His disappearance even seems to resemble the disappearance of Lacey's father in 1930.The mystery frequently flashes back to the time when Lacey's parents were dealing with the death of 4 of their children from diphtheria which was the driving force for the endowment to the clinic.As Clare and Russ delve into the connections between the two disappearances, we learn more about the past of Millers Kill during Prohibition and the Depression.A great installment to the series, looking forward to the next.
I am very much enjoying Clare and Russ. There are three things that make just love this, the third, book in the series. First, I coincidentally read it during Lent, and the story takes place during Lent. The flow of the season that shows in the work of Reverend Clare Fergusson is subtly reflected in the progress of the mystery during the weeks before Easter. Second, the story moved back and forth between "now" and "then" (1920s-30s) so we get two mysteries for the price of one, so to speak. Both end surprisingly, and, unsurprisingly, are related. Third, when in just about every book. movie and TV show, two people who are attracted to each other are immediately in bed, the relationship between Clare and Russ takes a more mature course. We see two people who have respect for each other and for each others' vows and commitments, and can develop an intimate friendship without sex. While I've enjoyed the previous two books in the series, this is the best so far. I highly recommend this series!
Book three of Millers Kill series. When the church roof springs a leak, Rev Clare has to find the money quick. One of her older vestry members offers the money, but in order to do so the money has to be taken away from the town free clinic. Suddenly the doctor responsible for the clinic goes missing and a young woman campaigner against child vaccinations gets the blame. So far so good.
In 1924, Jane and Jonathan Ketchem's four children died of diptheria. In 1930 Jonathan disappeared. Jane donated property to the town of Miller's Kill to fund a medical clinic in his memory. In the present time, the doctor running the clinic also disappears. Chief Russ van Alstyne is investigating, and Rev. Clare Fergusson is intruding. The first half of the book is a little slow as the stories develop. The stories are linked when elderly Mrs. Marshall, the fifth child of Jane and Jonathan Ketchem and a member of Clare's church, decides to withdraw the support of her mother's trust from the clinic in order to meet the church's urgent need for roof repairs. Clare learns more about Mrs. Marshall's family history, including Jonathan's disappearance, while investigating aspects of the current case. She wonders why the four children had to die, and where Jane Ketchem got the money to fund the clininc, send her surviving daughter to college, and establish the trust. The heartbreaking links between these questions, and the connections between the old and new cases, come together as the pace picks up in the latter part of the book.The author does a nice job of connecting story elements but not beating the reader over the head with the connections. The two voices Clare hears at times, those of her grandmother and her Army drill instructor, help to illuminate how she makes decisions. The relationship between Clare and Russ develops nicely and remains credibly tense. A very good read once you get past the somewhat slow beginning.
Book starts out with money being donated to the church has a mysterious background then goes into fraud and embezzled money from medical clinics and bootleggers and land fraud. I found switching back and forth to the cold case murder very confusing and at times lost interest. Did like reading the developing relationship between Claire and Russ.
A murder mystery that touches your soul and makes you ponder man and Godsimultaneously.
I love this series so much. Julie Spencer-Fleming is a master at characterization and scene setting. I feel like I am walking the streets of Millers Kill when I read her books. I adore Russ and Clare for their flawed humanity which makes them more like real people rather than characters in a book and all the secondary characters are engaging as well. I highly recommend the entire series.
I was hoping that the further I got along in the series, the more that it would grow on me, but unfortunately that was not the case. This series is not horrible, but it's not worth it to me to continue on from this point. After reading this book (the 3rd in the series), I haven't rated any of the three books higher than 3 stars, so I think that there are too many other 5 star reads out there to continue on in the series. I did think that this was the best book of the series thus far, but as with the other stories, I felt like it took way to long to get through the story. I felt like the first 75% of the story drug along, but the last 25% proved to be a great story. I only wish that the first half were as good, then it certainly would be at least a 4 star read. This story was more interested in the other three story lines. It did have a good element of mystery and certainly was not predictable it just didn't seem to hold my interest that well. I still find myself interested in finding out where the story of the characters go, but not enough to read the next book. The characters are certainly interesting and unique and have an unexplainable relationship. I do really wish that I enjoyed this series more, but I just have such a hard time getting through the books.
The Clare Fergusson Russ Van Alstyne novels now number seven. This, the third in the series, has been issued in a trade paperback edition, among others recently published by Minotaur Books. The mystery around which the tale revolves starts in 1930, when Jane Ketchem’s husband, Jonathan, disappears without a trace. Flashbacks to the 20’s and the history of the Ketchems over past decades are present throughout the entire book, its chapters delineated “Then” and “Now.” There is a contemporary and somewhat analogous mystery as well, when another man goes missing, and the police force in the Adirondack Mountain region of Miller’s Kill, New York (population 8,000), headed up by Police Chief Van Alstyne, attempts to track him, or his body, down. Russ had been a cop, military and civilian, for 25 years, but as usual, he and parish priest Fergusson end up doing dual investigations, despite his reminder “Me cop, you priest.” But that never stopped Clare before, much to the dismay of the church elders. The growing attraction between the two is, as always, a major plot point, and becoming harder for the small town gossips to ignore the weekly lunches they enjoy, mindful of the fact that Clare is thirty-five and that Russ, a recovering alcoholic, is forty-nine and, more importantly, a married man. Let it be said that I am a huge fan of this series, but had somehow missed this and the subsequent entry, which is next up for this reader. I have to add that I felt a bit let down on reading this one, unsure of exactly why, other than that some of the flashback scenes seemed to slow down the novel, as did some of the historical aspects, which were at the same time interesting.- - contradictory, I know. There is much discussion of the effects on the town when the old mills, “ornate brick mausoleums for the town’s prosperity,” closed down, and the valley was flooded when the dam was constructed. Over all it was a good read, and one which is recommended.