Tuesday, September 1, 2009

I Shall Not Want by Julia Spencer-Fleming

I Shall Not Want is the sixth in a unique mystery series. Clare Ferguson is an Episcopalian priest and former Army helicopter pilot in a small town in upper state New York. As a reverend she has a reputation for acting before thinking. Her current Bishop is unsure of her commitment and a deal they’ve made is for her to be in the National Guard as she figures out how dedicated she is to being a priest.

Russ Van Alstyne is the police chief of the small town of Millers Kill and one main reason Clare is questioning her own judgment. To get the back story on their relationship it is best to start with the first book in the series: In the Bleak Midwinter.

In I Shall Not Want a body is found during a church picnic. Other bodies are found, all of young Hispanic men. The police chief and the town begin to wonder if they are dealing with a serial killer. Russ becomes even more entangled in this case as one of the bodies is found on his sister’s property. Even though Russ and Clare are estranged initially, she becomes involved as the number of illegal immigrants in the area and their treatment is brought to her attention.

Here’s Russ trying to tell Clare how he feels:
“It’s me. I’m …stuck. I’m like an old truck up to its hubcaps in snow. I go forward, I go back, nothing ever changes or shakes loose, and the whole time I’m cold, inside and out. The only time I feel anything is when I’m angry.”

The mystery is almost secondary to the ongoing story of Russ and Clare. Other characters are also well developed. New to town is Hadley Knox, the first female police officer in Millers Kill. A good portion of the mystery explores Hadley’s growth as an officer and her attempt to balance her job with being a single mom to two kids.

If you’re looking for a mystery that has more focus on character development than most, definitely try out these books by Julia Spencer-Fleming.

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