>> Thursday, August 09, 2012
TITLE: Out of the Deep I Cry
AUTHOR: Julia Spencer-Fleming
PUBLISHER: St. Martin's
SETTING: Contemporary New York state
SERIES: 3rd in the Clare Fergusson & Russ Van Alstyn series
A DARK PAST THAT COULD BRING...Reverend Clare Fergusson's church is a beautiful old building, but like all such buildings, keeping on top of repairs is a neverending job. The latest problem is the roof, and it's a bad (and expensive) one. Clare has no idea where she'll get the money from, until Mrs. Marshall, one of her parishioners, offers to foot the bill. Problem is, to do so she is proposing to liquidate a trust that was funding the town's health clinic.
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...
DEADLY CONSEQUENCES TO THE PRESENT...
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.
As Clare debates the moral issues around this, the clinic's problems get worse, when the clinic's director disappears in mysterious circumstances. And things become even murkier when it becomes clear that his disappearance is not unlike that of Mrs. Marshall's father, back in 1930.
This is a type of mystery I really enjoy, one where a current mystery is linked to one in the past, and to solve the former, it's crucial to find out the truth about the latter. Spencer-Fleming handles this masterfully, weaving them together an allowing them to mirror each other in interesting, illuminating ways. Both are well-constructed, and the solution was satisfying.
I was also ok with Clare's involvement in the whole mystery and investigation. That's something that can be tricky when the character is not part of the police, or a PI, or anything like that, and while in the 1st book in the series I thought Clare's involvement came across as perfectly natural, it felt a little bit more forced in the second one. Here, it was somewhere in between, and not a problem. Clare also behaves pretty sensibly here.
What I loved best about the book, though, is the progress in the relationship between Clare and Russ Van Alstyn. There has been an attraction between the two of them from the start, and more than that, a very real connection, but Russ is married, and both are decent people. So they do their best to ignore it. Well, they can't ignore it any more here, and I can't wait to see what comes next!
The only disappointment was the adrenalin-fuelled ending. It felt a bit out of place in this series, it's not really what this is about, and I found it somewhat confusing.
MY GRADE: A B.