St. Martin's, Mar 2002, 23.95, 308 pp.
Though no longer with the Army, Clare Fergusson knows as a former military pilot that one flies straight to the target to get the job done. Now as the first female priest of the Millers Kill, New York St. Mark's Episcopal Church she still flies straight to the target though this time it is typically a person in need. Between her gender as the first female priest and her no nonsense straightforward demeanor, Clare annoys some of her congregation.
Clare finds an abandoned infant on the church's step. The person who left the baby behind also provided a note requesting that the child be given to Geoffrey and Karen Burns, a local professional couple seeking an adoption. As the town's chief of police Russ Van Alstyne searches for the parents, a murder occurs with the victim turning out to be the mother of the deserted baby. As Clare assists Russ on his investigation, an attraction springs up between them, but he is married and she is the new priest.
The mystery of IN THE BLEAK MIDWINTER is filled with many twists and turns (unlike Clare) that are not used to further the police investigation. Instead the subplots provide insight into the key two characters, which slows down the plot, but enables the audience to appreciate Russ and Clare. Their first meeting in the hospital starts off colder then the tundra, but thaws until heat begins to emanate. Fans of police procedural cozies will delight in Julia Spencer-Fleming's warm tale and look forward to more cases starring two delightful characters.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner