Barbara H. (Alexandria, VA)
Through the Evil Days
This is a well-written, thoughtfully plotted, suspenseful story with finely nuanced characters and natural sounding dialog.
The author excels when it comes to interpersonal conflict. The scenes between two officers, Kevin Flynn and Hadley Knox, were especially well done.
With many issues to work through, the story's central crime—an act of arson aimed at covering up a double murder—almost recedes into the background. While the couple's complex relationship was engaging, the very pregnant Clare's active involvement in getting the bad guys strains credulity.
A tightly crafted story puts the reader right in the middle of a multi-layered mystery, exploration and insight into personal relationships, life-changing reveals and decisions. The story teems with suspense and offers enough twists and turns along the way to keep the reader eager to read more.
Sue P. (Richardson, TX)
Through The Evil Days
I am an avid fan of Julia Spencer-Fleming's books and was so excited to be picked to review the ARC. While the book is good, I felt it was a bit draggy in places and that the relationship between Claire and Russ seemed somewhat forced at times.The writing is literary quality, as always, but it just wasn't as riveting as her other books.
Fran T. (San Diego, CA)
God will give strength and bear thee through the evil days
I have read all of Spencer-Fleming's previous novels about Clare and Russ and, for the most part, have enjoyed them a great deal. Thus, I had high hopes for this novel. In some ways, my hopes were met; in other ways, not so much. The plot was engrossing and held my interest. The suspense level was kept high and the denouement was very satisfactory and quite surprising. That said, I found some difficulties and weaknesses, as well. Other reviewers have touched on these also --i.e, constant jumping from one scene to another, dragging out Clare's and Russ's attempts to escape from the locale of their "cabin in the woods". They had so many difficulties in attempting to get back to civilization that it almost became, for me, absurd.
I was also disappointed that there was less of the spiritual in this book. For me, one of the strengths of her previous novels was the manner in which Spencer-Fleming incorporated Clare's faith and her interactions with her parish. In this novel, her interactions with the vestry are only bookends to the central story.
All of this being said, I still enjoyed the story and sympathized with the characters which is why I
gave the book a 4-- if it had been possible to give it a 3.5, I would have done so, but I decided to err on the generous side.
Mary M. (Lexington, KY)
This book was an edge of your seat, can't put it down thriller. The characters were interesting and complex and even though I was new to the series I was able to understand them. My only criticism of the book is that I could have done without the slightly graphic sex. I just didn't see the need for it. The book is a thriller not a romance novel. The best compliment I can give is that I plan to read the other books in the series.
Becky M. (Crumpler, NC)
Even better than the last
I have read all the books in Fleming's Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne series, but this effort is by far the most compelling. With every twist and turn, the story plows forward to its thrilling and unexpected end. Of all the books, this has the best "nail-biting" factor, leaving the reader to wonder just when will the characters re-connect and how will they answer the puzzle laid out before them in the first pages. Even the conclusion is not a conclusion . . . a cliff-hanger of sorts as favorite characters wrestle with life issues and monumental decisions. A must-read if you are a fan of this series.
Not too cold!
This is not just another mystery by Julia Spencer-Fleming! Priest Clare Fergusson and Police Chief Russ van Alstyne have finally married, as Clare is pregnant. They are called out in the middle of the night to an arson call, that quickly becomes a murder scene. Add the cold, the blizzard, and a kidnapping and you have the making of a great murder suspense novel, and that is what you will get. It was well written, the characters are believable, and the novel flows well. Enjoy!
Julia A. (New York, NY)
Through the Evil Days
I have to admit that I have very ambivalent feelings about this book. While I did keep reading and felt some involvement with the characters, I found the plot overly convoluted, with almost too many characters and sub plots. I found Kevin and Hadley to be a much more sympathetic and believable " couple" than Clare and Russ,despite their secondary role in the novel. It also seemed to me, as someone familiar with upstate New York winters,rather unbelievable that the protagonists could have made all those long treks on foot during a major days-long ice storm. They seemed super-human at times. Far more believable were the traffic accidents and the way the weather complicated the police work.
Where the author excels, however, is in getting the reader to feel the terror and bewilderment that Mikayla feels as her stay among the kidnappers is prolonged. Ms. Spencer-Fleming obviously has empathy and compassion for children, but not so much for adults. She also did a good job portraying the evil among the drug dealers and Hadley's ex-husband. But I must say I was not left with the desire to read any more Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne novels. This one had a good premise that got bogged down in subplots and a surfeit of characters. It was at times difficult to keep track of who was who and why they mattered. Overall, while readable, the novel suffered from overly ambitious plotting with too many insufficiently developed or insufficiently sympathetic characters.