Romance and murder in Miller’s Kill, New York.
Who are Clare Fergusson and Russ Van Alstyne?
Written by American novelist Julia Spencer-Fleming, this series is about a reverend/amateur detective and her collaboration and romance with the chief of police.
The story focuses on Clare Fergusson, the first female priest at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in Miller’s Kill, New York. Ex-Army chopper pilot, she doesn’t back down when a mystery appears at her church door.
That often leads her to work with the town’s police chief, Russ Van Alstyne. Investigating together opens the door for a lot of personal and romantic problems…
How to read the Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne Books in Order?
Every book in the Fergusson/Van Alstyne series works as a standalone story, but the lives of the different characters evolve from one novel to the other.
- In the Bleak Midwinter – It’s December in the upstate New York town of Millers Kill, and newly-ordained Clare Fergusson is on thin ice as the first female priest of its small Episcopal church. Chief of Police Russ Van Alstyne dismisses her as a naive do-gooder and her blunt manner, honed by eight years as an Army chaplain, receives a chilly reception. When a baby is abandoned and a young mother is brutally murdered, Clare has to pick her way through the secrets and silence that shadow the town like the ever-present Adirondack mountains.
- A Fountain Filled with Blood – Clare Fergusson is shocked when the July Fourth weekend brings a rash of vicious assaults to the scenic town. Even police chief Russ Van Alstyne is shaken by the brutality of the crimes-especially when it appears that the victims were chosen because they are gay. But when a third assault of an out-of-town developer ends in murder, Clare and Russ wonder if the recent crime wave is connected to the victim’s controversial plan to open an upscale spa in Miller’s Kill.
- Out of the Deep I Cry – On April 1, 1930, Jonathan Ketchem’s wife Jane walked from her house to the police department to ask for help in finding her husband. No one ever saw Jonathan Ketchem again… Now decades later, someone else is missing in Miller’s Kill, NY. This time it’s the physician of the clinic that bears the Ketchem name. Suspicion falls on a volatile single mother with a grudge against the doctor, but Reverend Clare Fergusson isn’t convinced.
- To Darkness and to Death – Millicent van der Hoeven has decided to sell her family’s Adirondack estate to a nature conservancy. But on the day of the land transfer, her brother frantically calls the police. Millie has disappeared in the cold November forest… Now, as Clare Fergusson and Russ Van Alstyne race time to find Millie, they soon discover the secrets of someone who is desperate to stop the sale…
- All Mortal Flesh – When Russ’s wife kicks him out of the house, he figures it’s nobody’s business but his own–until a neighbor stops by and finds Mrs. Van Alstyne’s butchered corpse on the kitchen floor. To the townspeople and church folk, the murder is proof that the whispered rumors about the police chief and the priest were true. But nothing is as it seems in Millers Kill, where betrayal twists old friendships…
- I Shall Not Want – A brand-new officer in the police department, a breaking-and-entering, and trouble within his own family keep Police Chief Russ Van Alstyne busy enough to ignore the pain of losing his wife. At St. Alban’s Episcopal Church, the Reverend Clare Fergusson is trying to keep everyone happy all the while denying her own wounded soul. When a Mexican farmhand stumbles over a Latino man killed with a single shot to the back of his head, Clare is sucked into the investigation.
- “Letters to a Soldier” (short story) – letters exchanged between the main characters in I Shall Not Want and One Was a Soldier.
- One Was a Soldier – Since their first meeting, Chief of Police Russ Van Alstyne and Rev. Clare Fergusson’s bond has been tried, torn, and forged by adversity. But when he rules a veteran’s death a suicide, she violently rejects his verdict, drawing the surviving vets into an unorthodox investigation that threatens jobs, relationships, and her own future with Russ.
- Through the Evil Days – Clare Fergusson and Russ van Alstyne are awoken in the night by an urgent call: a farmhouse has erupted into flames, killing the couple sleeping inside. But the couple had not been alone – their eight-year-old foster child, Mikayla, has vanished. Still recovering from a life-saving operation, Mikayla will sicken and die if she doesn’t receive medication, and now the police force of Millers Kill has just eight days to find her.
- Hid from Our Eyes – 1972. Millers Kill Police Chief Jack Liddle is called to a murder scene of a woman that’s very similar to one he worked as a trooper in the 50s. The only difference is this time, they have a suspect : young Vietnam War veteran Russ van Alstyne. Present day. Millers Kill Police Chief Russ van Alstyne gets a 911 call that a young woman has been found dead in a party dress, the same MO as the crime he was accused of in the 70s…
What should you read if you like the Fergusson/Van Alstyne books?
If you like reading Julia Spencer-Fleming’s Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne novels, you may be interested in the work of Louise Penny, or maybe Deborah Crombie’s Duncan Kincaid & Gemma James series.