This is the fifth book in the Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne mystery series, and I can’t write this review without first mentioning something that may or may not be a spoiler. So if that matters to you, you’d better stop reading right now.
Russ is chief of police in Miller’s Kill, New York. Clare is an Episcopal priest in a local church. At the beginning of this book, Russ’ wife Linda is found dead in their home. At first Russ attempts to take control of the investigation, which is admittedly ridiculous. One of his officers escalates the matter to the state police and another investigator is assigned. Russ and Linda recently separated after Russ revealed his romantic relationship with Clare, so naturally both Russ and Clare are suspects. But as the investigation moves ahead a tangled web emerges, involving identity theft, animal cruelty, mistaken identity, and troubled teenagers.
Pretty soon the reader doesn’t know which end is up, and that’s exactly where Julia Spencer-Fleming wants us to be. And then she begins to connect the dots, slowly revealing elements of the mystery. This series is known for placing the protagonists in impossibly hazardous situations, and I was a little disappointed when I accurately predicted the scene. But there was so much more I could never have predicted, including the murderer’s identity, and the shocking ending. This was my favorite book in the series so far!