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In the Bleak Midwinter (Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne Mysteries)

(Book #1 in the The Rev. Clare Fergusson & Russ Van Alstyne Mysteries Series)

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Format: Mass Market Paperback

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Book Overview

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... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

7 ratings

The whole series is wonderful.

You will get to know the characters and their situations. You don’t have to read them in order but I would recommend it. They are hard to put down once you start!

Julia Spencer-Fleming Fan Now

Major page turner, could not put it down. Well written Murder Mystery with a style all it's own. After reading this book I came on line to purchase all her other books. You'll want to continue the series as the two main characters have a relationship you will want to follow... and one of them is an Episcopal Priest- this book would make a great movie. Believable plot twists that keep you guessing, loved it!


This series is so great that I want everyone to know about it. There are 4 books in the series out now and another on the way in October. If you love Margaret Maron, Earlene Fowler, Elizabeth George, Elizabeth Peters or any great mystery, buy this. The setting is small-town upstate New York in the Adirondacks somewhere between Albany and Saratoga. Everyone knows everyone and their business in a burg of only 8,000 souls. The heroine is an novice Episcopalian priest from Virginia and DC in her first posting, Clare Fergusson and our hero, Russ VanAlstyne, is the Chief of Police. Don't be put off by the religious bent of Clare. She is devoutly liberal and free-thinking much to her Bishop's dismay and a champion of the downtrodden. Unfortunately, she is completely out of her element in Millers Kill, NY. (Kill is a Dutch derivative meaning a stream that runs into a river, in this case, Millers Kill runs into the Hudson.) In Clare's capacity as priest, she is thrown into murder and mayhem and meets Russ VanAlstyne, the "older-by-14 years" Chief of Police and agnostic. Despite the philosophical differences, Clare and Russ find they are kindred spirits in having shared careers in the Army; Russ in Vietnam, Clare in Desert Storm and Africa and they fall passionately in love. There's only one catch - of course - he's married; and not even that unhappily. This dynamic continues throughout the series and I'm dying to know how this will evolve. Clare is consumed with guilt and bound and determined to keep her vow of celibacy until she is married and Russ is just as determined to keep his vows of marriage. And then there is the religious angle - Clare is the eternal optimist who looks for the good in everyone and every situation and that just plays so well off Russ, the archetype of jaded, world-weary and cynical cop who can't imagine a god who would let such horrible things happen to his creation. The topics are all meaty: homosexuality, illegitimacy and abandoned babies, loggers and timber "harvesting" and development vs. environmentalists all set agaist the backdrop of the general deshabile and poverty that befalls an former industrial boomtown struggling to find its way in today's economy by catering to tourists. Add to the mix a clever, original plot that really MOVES, a cast of interesting characters that recur in all books in the series and you have a SUPERB night of reading curled up in your comfiest favorite place! I couldn't put any of these books down and I can't wait for the next one in October. I won't go into the storyline because others have done. I urge you to buy this book and give yourself a GREAT treat - a mystery series as good as this is very rare and believe me: I've read 'em all!

The Winter Less Bleak

I couldn't read this book in one sitting--I do have a day job! And I didn't want to, either--because I didn't want the experience of reading it to end. "In the Bleak Midwinter" is one of the most skillfully crafted mysteries I've ever read: the plot is focused, and moves rapidly through the various personalities enmeshed in it: the priest, the police chief, the congregation, the tragic love story. It's notable, too, for the characters we DON'T meet but who hover over the action: the chief's wife and the dead young mother. And of course there's the snow, the never ending snow that keeps falling on the rural New York town, trapping the residents into small and predictable movements, underwhich lies great human passion and ambition.The winter was a little less bleak when I reluctantly finished this extraordinary reading experience. Read it.

Great Winter Reading

I read this book over a weekend while snowed in. It is a great cozy mystery that is difficult to put down. I never thought I would find a female Episcopalian priest a believable or interesting mystery protagonist but I was pleasantly surprised. The book had a good pace and was not immediately easy to figure out like some mystery novels. I look forward to following these characters in future books.

Don't Start This One Unless You Have the Time to Finish It!

This book goes down as smoothly as gourmet ice cream - you take that first spoonful, and then you come out of your coma and you're *done*!It's a great mystery, but the thing that rang my bell was the way the main characters were portrayed. You will live these people throughout the book, and, when you reach the end, you'll be screaming for more.I hope to see many more books that star the lead character of 'Bleak Midwinter'.The odd turns of the mystery itself are made much better because of the choice of characters.I refuse to give away any more information. Just buy it - You'll be glad you did. :-)Laura Rayfield

Kept Me

In the Bleak Midwinter kept me reading straight through; I found the characters interesting and the plot moved quickly with little twists and turns that really kept my interest. I want to hear more about the Rev. Clare!
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