Now that they’re married and pregnant—not in that order—Episcopal priest Clare Fergusson and Millers Kill Police Chief Russ Van Alstyne (Once Was a Soldier, 2011, etc.) are in for the honeymoon from hell.
Mikayla Johnson has gone missing. The outlook is bleak, since whoever took her evidently shot her foster parents, retired federal agents Ted and Helen MacAllen, and torched their house, making sure to do an especially thorough job. Since Mikayla, 8, had a liver transplant not long ago, she’s on a complicated regimen of immunosuppressants, and if she doesn’t keep up with them, she’ll die. As the Millers Kill Police Department begins their ticking-clock search for the missing child who’s been abandoned by her meth-head mother, Annie, and her abusive ex-con father, Hector DeJean (whose name is a broad wink to industry insiders), they pick up chilling hints that her disappearance may be linked to Annie’s well-connected drug supplier Tim LaMar. Meanwhile, there’s trouble aplenty on the homefront. Russ learns that the state police, backed by some budget-conscious local officials, are looking to disband the Millers Kill department and take over its duties. Officer Kevin Flynn, a mainstay of the force whose relationship with Officer Hadley Knox is foundering, is offered a tempting job with the Syracuse Police Department. Hadley’s smarmy ex-husband, Dylan, pops up from California demanding money she doesn’t have or their children. Clare’s bishop, scandalized by her premature pregnancy, asks her to resign her pulpit at St. Alban’s or face disciplinary charges. There’s barely room for the once-in-a-lifetime ice storm that strikes just as Clare and Russ are hunkering down in an isolated cabin in Cooper’s Corner to get some quiet time for themselves.
Spencer-Fleming, whose record has shown that she’s not afraid to pile on the plot complications, ladles out threats, betrayal, redemption and seriously bad weather until Clare loses track of how many times her honeymoon has been interrupted by bad guys who’ve held her husband at gunpoint.