Thursday, November 25

I Shall Not Want - Julia Spencer-Fleming

In the aftermath of Russ van Alstyne's arrest, and subsequent release, for the murder of his wife, things have not improved for the Millers Kill police chief and its Episcopal minister. For although he's now free from his marriage vows, he's no more able to pursue a relationship with Clare Fergusson than he was before, and not just because she re-enlisted.
As always, Russ and Clare's romantic narrative is interwoven with several mysteries, in this case involving illegal immigrants, murder, and a vast amount of marijuana. As if that wasn't enough, a fledgling police officer happens on domestic violence in progress, a situation which rapidly becomes an out of control armed hostage taking.
The rookie is a new addition to the familiar cast - Hadley Knox, a single mother newly arrived in Millers Kill and even more newly a member of the police department. Already unsure if she has what it takes, and fending off the fumbling but sincere romantic advances of fellow officer Kevin Flynn, she rapidly finds herself out of her depth.
I Shall Not Want is, like its predecessors, absorbing, eminently readable, and resonant. The mystery elements keep the plot ticking along but it's the characters that bring the book alive. Well, the characters are the sparkling writing - Sister Lucia, a nun ministering to illegal farmhands, is modestly supported by the church, "and by modest, I mean it's swathed in a burka, unseen by human eye."
There's a rift between Russ and Clare that I wouldn't have imagined only a book ago, which rings true and runs deep, and though it's only dealt with in a few pages, the pain is raw and convincingly portrayed. The end is warm and satisfying, and sadly reads like the end of the series, but the journey has been wonderful. - Alex

The Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne series:
1. In the Bleak Midwinter
2. A Fountain Filled with Blood
3. Out of the Deep I Cry
4. To Darkness and to Death
5. All Mortal Flesh
6. I Shall Not Want

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