Monday, July 07, 2008

In the Bleak Midwinter

In the Bleak Midwinter is Julia Spencer-Fleming's debut novel and the first in the Claire Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne mysteries. First, I think it is so weird that on the cover of the book and on parts the author's website the character's name is spelled "Claire" but in the book itself and on others parts of the author's website it is spelled "Clare". Truly weird. I wonder what's with that.

This book was a real page-turner. It won several awards for best first novel: Anthony Award, Agatha Award, Dilys Award, Macavity Award and Barry Award. The first chapter can be read online here. There are five others in this series.

from the back of the book:
Claire Fergusson, St. Alban's new priest, fits like a square peg in the conservative Episcopal parish at Millers Kill, New York. She is not just a "lady"; she's a tough ex-Army chopper pilot, and nobody's fool. Then a newborn infant left at the church door brings her together with the town's police chief, Russ Van Alstyne, who's also ex-Army and a cynical good shepherd for the stray sheep of his hometown. Their search for the baby's mother quickly leads them into the secrets that shadow Millers Kill like the ever present Adirondacks. What they discover is a world of trouble, an attraction to each other -and murder...

There is a page at her website where she deals with the question of what type of mystery this is:
At a recent mystery conference, someone asked me if my books were cozies. "" I said (in part because my mouth was full of a Krispy Kreme donut at the time) "I prefer to think of them as traditional mysteries."

So, are my books cozies? Well, they take place in a small, rural area, involve a priest as the crime-solver, and take time to explore what else, besides murder and mayhem, make up the Rev. Clare Fergusson's day--vestry meetings, counseling, her daily run, parish dinners. On the other hand, the books take an unsentimental look at the hardscrabble existence in an economically depressed Adirondack town, explore the life-altering effect of violence on people's lives, and include what I hope is
heart-pounding, adrenalin-inducing action. Publisher's Weekly called my latest novel a "cozy-cum-thriller," and I rather liked that. For me, ultimately, what's important
about the books I write and the books I read are that they create a recognizable, believable world with characters I want to spend time with.

I'm pleased she's dealing with the question rather deciding to abandon the series because the question keeps coming up. I enjoyed it under any literary umbrella and will look for the others.

No comments:

Post a Comment