Saturday, June 5, 2010

Review: To Darkness and to Death

Author: Julia Spencer- Fleming
Format:  audio - 14 hrs;  370 page equivalent
Characters: Clare Ferguson, Russ Van Alstyn
Subject: Murder, big business takeover of wilderness
Setting: Upstate New York
Series: Clare Ferguson/Russ Van Alstyn  mysteries
Genre: police/amateur detective
Source:  public library
Challenge: SYLL, Audio, Thrillers and Suspense

Ingredients: Ex Army helicopter pilot now Episcopal priest (oh yeah- she's female); retired Army MP, now Police chief, lots of illicit romantic tension, no sex, a couple of Forrest Gump level criminals ("stupid is as stupid does"), a small town very professional police force, a giant conglomerate taking over bazillions of acres of pristine woodlands, a flawed recluse harboring a grudge, a priggish British suitor, a pompous Episcopalian deacon, several disenchanted businessmen watching their life dreams disappear under the onslaught of 'progress', loggers, mill-workers, and do-gooders.

Spencer-Fleming's ongoing series continues to build the romance between Rev. Clare Ferguson and Police Chief Van Alstyn, this time giving us more of a glimpse of the Chief's wife Linda.  The story opens with a reported missing person, and Clare's being called out on the search and rescue mission (she wants to keep her Army skills honed).  The ensuing tangled story that emerges from the results of the impending sale of acres of property by the Van der Hoeven family has many subplots.  The criminal characters are run-of-the mill criminals...they're ordinary townspeople who have not learned to deal with their emotions, their greed, and their longing to keep things from changing.  I did think Spencer-Fleming went a little over the edge though on some of the scenes.  I mean really! How stupid can people be and still be believable?

I enjoy this series, and plan to spend several hours this summer reading #3, which I skipped because it wasn't available at the library, and then 5, 6 and 7.  Like a good soap opera, they hook you into continuing so you can see what happens to the star-struck lovers.  Worth a read.


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