Title: In The Bleak Midwinter (#1, Claire Ferguson/Russ Van Alstyne Mystery)
Author: Julia Spencer-Fleming
Publisher: Thomas Dunne, 2002
Sexy Rating: No sex, romantic elements
Description from Amazon.com:
It’s a cold, snowy 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. The ancient regime running the parish covertly demands that she prove herself as a leader. However, her blunt manner, honed by years as an army pilot, is meeting with a chilly reception from some members of her congregation and Chief of Police Russ Van Alystyne, in particular, doesn’t know what to make of her, or how to address “a lady priest” for that matter.
The last thing she needs is trouble, but that is exactly what she finds. When a newborn baby is abandoned on the church stairs and a young mother is brutally murdered, Clare has to pick her way through the secrets and silence that shadow that town like the ever-present Adirondack mountains. As the days dwindle down and the attraction between the avowed priest and the married police chief grows, Clare will need all her faith, tenacity, and courage to stand fast against a killer’s icy heart.
She’s an Episcopal priest. He’s a small town chief of police, married 16 years. The sexual tension between the two is on every page but they fight the attraction. The snowy upstate New York setting brings a cold chill right out of the pages. The mystery is fraught with red herrings and builds slowly to a mid book, page turning crescendo where it is impossible to put down the book until the very last page.
This author leaves you enthralled with these perfectly nuanced protagonists as well as the well drawn side characters. Brimming with action, adventure and small town ambiance, you will not quickly forget this book. I’m delighted to have found this book and also delighted that I don’t have to wait to read other books in the series. You may take this as a resounding READ-IT recommendation.