Julia Spencer-Fleming, Author . St. Martin's Minotaur/Dunne $23.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-312-30410-2

Spencer-Fleming's second cozy-cum-thriller to feature the Reverend Clare Fergusson, an ex-army helicopter pilot turned Anglican priest, is every bit as riveting as her first, In the Bleak Midwinter (2002). A series of gay bashings, the discovery of PCBs in a local elementary school playground and a brutal murder heat up the Adirondacks town of Millers Kill, N.Y., hotter than the July weather. Clare, rector of St. Alban's Episcopal Church, and the very much married police chief Russ Van Alstyne, who have spent the last six months avoiding each other in hopes of dispelling their mutual attraction, find themselves working together on a perilous murder investigation. With eloquent exposition and natural dialogue, the precisely constructed plot moves effortlessly to its dramatic conclusion. The poignant reflections of Clare and Russ as they examine their own hearts and struggle with their feelings never detract from the crime solving. Amid a host of memorable characters, Clare stands out, whether daring to drive a sports car instead of a safer four-wheel-drive vehicle or donning her vestments to perform the evening service of Compline in an empty church lit with candles. Not just fans of ecclesiastical mysteries will have reason to rejoice. Regional author tour. Agent, James Vines. (Apr. 7)

Forecast:The jacket art, depicting a barbed wire fence and what look like fireworks against a dark sky, does little to convey the subject or theme, but the author's name should be recommendation enough for fans of In the Bleak Midwinter.

Reviewed on: 02/24/2003
Release date: 04/01/2003
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-7927-3315-7
MP3 CD - 978-0-7927-3317-1
Compact Disc - 978-0-7927-3316-4
Mass Market Paperbound - 400 pages - 978-0-312-99543-0
Open Ebook - 304 pages - 978-1-4299-0906-8
Paperback - 314 pages - 978-1-250-00782-7
Hardcover - 593 pages - 978-1-4104-7075-1
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-0-7927-4125-1
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