The long-simmering unconsummated romance between Rev. Clare Fergusson and Millers Kill Police Chief Russ Van Alstyne comes to a boil when Russ’s wife is killed.
There are very few secrets in small towns, and everybody in Millers Kill knows that the chief of police has crossed the line with the local Episcopal priest. A week after Linda Van Alstyne, the chief’s wife, throws him out of the house, a friend finds her stabbed to death on her kitchen floor. Russ’s rage and guilt make him twice as eager to nail the killer himself, but there’s no way he’s going to be left in charge of his estranged wife’s murder. Hard-nosed Emiley Jensen, from the New York State Bureau of Criminal Investigation, is soon on hand to sideline him from the case and threaten to arrest him. Over at St. Alban’s, Clare has acquired a watchdog of her own, brightly repressive deacon Elizabeth de Groot, because her bishop has become so concerned about her uniquely activist approach to pastoral ministry. The case produces a series of well-planned shocks unusual in their intensity even for Spencer-Fleming. But its nerve center is the lacerating relationship between two people who can’t live with or without each other.
The fifth installment of this underrated series tops even the pyrotechnics of To Darkness and to Death (2005)—even as it leaves you wondering whether it’ll be the last we’ll hear of Russ and Clare.