Through the Evil Days by Julia Spencer-Fleming
Reviewed by Kathleen Sieracki
“Through the Evil Days” is the eighth book in a series the author describes as “novels of faith and murder for readers of literary suspense.” The featured characters are Clare Fergusson, a former combat helicopter pilot in the National Guard who is now an Episcopal priest, and Russ Van Alstyne, chief of police in Millers Kill, a fictional town north of Albany, N.Y.
In the current book, Clare and Russ are newly married. They are also facing an unexpected pregnancy. Since the child was conceived before their wedding, Clare may be disciplined by her bishop. She could lose her pastorate at St. Alban’s Church. Simultaneously, Russ is struggling with the threat of dissolution of the police force by the town council as a money saving tactic. Several other characters with their own compelling issues are also woven into the story. There is a strong pro-life message in this book. Clare resolves to continue the pregnancy despite possible birth defects caused by her substance abuse following a recent deployment to Iraq. Russ also wonders whether, at age 55, he is too old to become a first time father.
The death of two people in an arson fire and the kidnapping of a child dependent on life-saving medication draw Clare and Russ into a harrowing search for the child even though they are in the midst of their honeymoon. The action follows parallel tracks with law enforcement personnel from various forces and with different agendas also involved in solving the crime. A January ice storm complicates the search. Nearly all the elements of the story are deftly resolved, but the author leaves some “cliffhangers” at the end of the story, causing the reader to eagerly anticipate the next book in the series. Julia Spencer-Fleming is the winner of many writing awards. For more information, visit her website at www.juliaspencerfleming.com.