Julia Spencer-Fleming books in order
Julia Spencer-Fleming is an American award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of the Clare Fergusson/ Russ Van Alstyne mystery series.
Born at Plattsburgh Air Force Base, and raised as an army brat, she attended Ithaca College, where she studied acting and history, and earned her J.D. from the University of Maine School of Law.
After becoming a new mom, Julia managed to finish her debut award-winning novel, In the Bleak Midwinter (2002). She recalled nursing the baby under one arm and having the manuscript under the other.
The book won several awards, including the 2002 Agatha Award, the 2003 Anthony Award, the 2003 Macavity Award, the 2003 Dilys Award, and the 2003 Barry Award.
Her other accolades include the 2007 Nero Wolfe Award, and the 2007 Gumshoe Award–both won by All Mortal Flesh (2006).
Julia currently lives outside of Portland, Maine.
Clare Fergusson / Russ Van Alstyne
- In the Bleak Midwinter (2002)
- A Fountain Filled with Blood (2003)
- Out of the Deep I Cry (2004)
- To Darkness and to Death (2005)
- All Mortal Flesh (2006)
- I Shall Not Want (2008)
- One Was a Soldier (2011)
- Through the Evil Days (2013)
- Hid from Our Eyes (2020)
Detailed book overview
Clare Fergusson / Russ Van Alstyne
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.
Nestled in the heart of the Adirondacks, Miller's Kill, New York is about as safe as it gets. That's why Episcopal minister Clare Fergusson is shocked when the July Fourth weekend brings a rash of vicious assaults to the scenic town. Even Clare's good friend, police chief Russ Van Alstyne, is shaken by the brutality of the crimes-especially when it appears that the victims were chosen because they are gay.
But when a third assault of an out-of-town developer ends in murder, Clare and Russ wonder if the recent crime wave is connected to the victim's controversial plan to open an upscale spa in Miller's Kill. But not all things in the tiny town are what they seem-and soon, Clare and Russ are left to fight their unspoken attraction to one another even as they uncover a labyrinthine conspiracy that threatens to turn deadly for them both...
On April 1, 1930, Jonathan Ketchem's wife Jane walked from her house to the police department to ask for help in finding her husband. The men, worn out from a night of chasing bootleggers, did what they could. But no one ever saw Jonathan Ketchem again...
Now decades later, someone else is missing in Miller's Kill, NY. This time it's the physician of the clinic that bears the Ketchem name. Suspicion falls on a volatile single mother with a grudge against the doctor, but Reverend Clare Fergusson isn't convinced. As Clare and Russ investigate, they discover that the doctor's disappearance is linked to a bloody trail going all the way back to the hardscrabble Prohibition era.
As they draw ever closer to the truth, their attraction for each other grows increasingly more difficult to resist. And their search threatens to uncover secrets that snake from one generation to the next-and to someone who's ready to kill.
Saturday, November 14, 5:00 A.M.
In the small Adirondack town of Millers Kill, an old lumberman sits in the dark with his gun across his knees. Not far away, an unemployed logger sleeps off his bender from the night before. The owner of the town's last paper mill tosses in his bed. And a young woman, one of three heirs to the 250,000-acre Great Camp, wakes alone in darkness, bound and gagged.
Chief of Police Russ Van Alstyne wants nothing more than a quiet day of hunting in the mountains on his fiftieth birthday. His wife needs to have the town's new luxury resort ready for its gala opening night. The Reverend Clare Fergusson expects to spend the day getting St. Alban's Church ready for the bishop's annual visit. Her long-distance suitor from New York expects some answers about their relationship during his weekend in town.
In Millers Kill, where everyone knows everyone and all are part of an interconnected web of blood or acquaintance, one person's troubles have a way of ensnaring others. What begins as a simple case of a woman lost in the woods leads to a tangle of revenge, blackmail, assault, kidnapping, and murder. As the hours tick by, Russ and Clare struggle to make sense of their town's plunge into chaos---and their own chaotic emotions.
Something terrible waits in the ice-rimed mountains cradling Millers Kill. Something that won't be content with just one death---or two...
One horrible murder. Two people destined for love or tragedy. Emotions explode in Millers Kill, where nothing is as it seems...and betrayal twists old friendships and evil waits inside quaint farmhouses.
Russ Van Alstyne figures his wife kicking him out of their house is nobody's business but his own. Until a neighbor pays a friendly visit to Linda Van Alstyne and finds the woman's body, gruesomely butchered, on the kitchen floor.
To the state police, it's an open-and-shut case of a disaffected husband silencing his wife and putting a stop to the murder investigation he controls. To the townspeople, it's proof that the whispered gossip about the police chief and the priest was true.
To the powers-that-be in the church hierarchy, it's a chance to control their wayward cleric once and for all. Russ and Clare must struggle against the reach of the law, the authority of the church, and their own guilty hearts.
In the searing conclusion to All Mortal Flesh, Police Chief Russ Van Alstyne’s precarious balance between duty and desire was broken by his wife’s tragic death.
Now, Russ and Episcopal priest Clare Fergusson are separated by a wall of guilt and grief. When a farmhand stumbles over a body, Clare is reluctantly drawn into the investigation through her involvement with the migrant community.
The discovery of two more bodies could mean a serial killer is on the loose. As spring turns into summer, Russ is plagued by media hysteria, conflict within the police department, and a series of baffling assaults.
Throughout the escalating tensions, emotions are fueled as Russ and Clare find themselves seeking each other out, even as they intend to keep distant.
On a warm September evening in the Millers Kill community center, five veterans sit down in rickety chairs to try to make sense of their experiences in Iraq. What they will find is murder, conspiracy, and the unbreakable ties that bind them to one another and their small Adirondack town.
The Rev. Clare Fergusson wants to forget the things she saw as a combat helicopter pilot and concentrate on her relationship with Chief of Police Russ Van Alstyne. MP Eric McCrea needs to control the explosive anger threatening his job as a police officer.
Will Ellis, high school track star, faces the reality of life as a double amputee. Orthopedist Trip Stillman is denying the extent of his traumatic brain injury. And bookkeeper Tally McNabb wrestles with guilt over the in-country affair that may derail her marriage.
But coming home is harder than it looks. One vet will struggle with drugs and alcohol. One will lose his family and friends. One will die.
Since their first meeting, Russ and Clare's bond has been tried, torn, and forged by adversity. But when he rules the veteran's death a suicide, she violently rejects his verdict, drawing the surviving vets into an unorthodox investigation that threatens jobs, relationships, and her own future with Russ.
As the days cool and the nights grow longer, they will uncover a trail of deceit that runs from their tiny town to the upper ranks of the U.S. Army, and from the waters of the Millers Kill to the unforgiving streets of Baghdad.
On a frigid January night, Chief of Police Russ Van Alstyne and Reverend Clare Fergusson are called to the scene of a raging fire. The extent of the tragedy isn't known until the next day, when the charred remains of a man and woman are recovered―along with evidence showing they were shot execution style.
The last thing Russ needs are two potential homicides. He's struggling with the prospect of impending fatherhood, and his new wife is not at all happy with his proposal for their long-delayed honeymoon: a week ice-fishing at a remote Adirondack lake.
St. Alban's Church is still in turmoil over the Reverend Clare Fergusson's news that she's five and a half months pregnant―but only two and a half months married. Worried her post-deployment drinking and drug use may have damaged the baby, she awaits the outcome of the bishop's investigation into her "unpriestly" behavior: a scolding, censure, or permanent suspension.
Officer Hadley Knox is having a miserable January as well. Her on-again, off-again lover, Kevin Flynn, has seven days to weigh an offer from the Syracuse Police Department that might take him half a state away. And her ex-husband's in town―threatening to take custody of their kids unless Hadley pays him off with money she doesn't have.
When Hadley discovers that the dead couple fostered an eight-year-old girl who was a recent liver donee, the search for the killer takes on a new and terrible urgency. With no access to immunosuppressant drugs, transplant rejection will kill the girl in a matter of days.
As a deadly ice storm downs power lines and immobilizes roads, Russ and Clare search desperately for the truth about the missing child, but the hunters will become the hunted when they are trapped in the cabin beside the frozen lake and stalked through the snowbound woods by a killer.
New parents Clare Fergusson and police chief Russ Van Alstyne tackle three copycat murders and one testy baby...
1952. Millers Kill Police Chief Harry McNeil is called to a crime scene where a woman in a party dress has been murdered with no obvious cause of death.
1972. Millers Kill Police Chief Jack Liddle is called to a murder scene of a woman that's very similar to one he worked as a trooper in the 50s. The only difference is this time, they have a suspect. Young Vietnam War veteran Russ van Alstyne found the body while riding his motorcycle and is quickly pegged as the prime focus of the investigation.
Present-day. Millers Kill Police Chief Russ van Alstyne gets a 911 call that a young woman has been found dead in a party dress, the same MO as the crime he was accused of in the 70s. The pressure is on for Russ to solve the murder before he's removed from the case.
Russ will enlist the help of his police squad and Reverend Clare Fergusson, who is already juggling the tasks of being a new mother to her and Russ's baby and running St. Alban's Church, to finally solve these crimes.