Publication Date: 2003
Genre: Mystery series
Pages: 371

This is the second of a series I’m really enjoying. The main character is an unusual one for a mystery series. Clare Fergusson is a former Army helicopter pilot who is now an Episcopal priest in a small town in Northern New York. The local Police Chief, Russ VanAlstyne is both her friend and a complication in her life. This is a series that should not be read out of order.

This book opens with a couple of assaults on local men. Then a partner in the development firm that’s building a new and controversial resort outside of town is found dead. Is this a series of hate crimes directed at local gays, or is there something else going on? Reverend Fergusson and Chief VanAlstyne both help each other and get in each other’s way as they search for answers. Despite the gory sounding title (taken from an old hymn), it’s not a nightmare inducing gory book, just a good, well-written mystery with great main characters. Like the first one (In the Bleak Midwinter) the tension filled action near the end had me dreading the end of my lunch hour reading time because I didn’t want to put this down.

One of the things I like about this series is that even though Clare is a priest, they’re not preachy – it’s just a part of her character, and at times an amusing part.

“God,” she said, “I believe you brought me here to Millers Kill for a reason. But so far, I mostly seem to be screwing up my own life. Please help me out here. I need to know what it is I’m supposed to be doing.”

Somewhere beyond the open double doors, the phone rang.

Clare raised her eyebrows and rose from her seat on the porch steps. In her experience, God didn’t respond to prayer with a phone call outlining His thoughts and expectations, but she was willing to keep an open mind. She tossed the newspaper on the sofa and went into the kitchen to pick up the phone.

I also love Clare’s memories of her grandmother.

What had Russ said to her last night? “Your version of the truth”? There’s I’m right and there’s you’re right and there’s what’s right, her grandmother Fergusson had always said. You can’t have but one of them. Which one will it be? The only way she was ever going to be able to face Russ again was if she let go of “I’m right” and went looking for “what’s right.”

Good book, good series, I’m looking forward to reading the next one.