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To Darkness and to Death (Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne Mysteries) Hardcover – May 26, 2005


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Product Details

  • Series: Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne Mysteries (Book 4)
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books; 1st edition (May 26, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312334850
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312334857
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (108 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,539,830 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Set during a single day, Agatha-winner Spencer-Fleming's explosive fourth mystery (after 2004's Out of the Deep I Cry) takes Rev. Clare Fergusson and Millers Kill, N.Y., police chief Russ Van Alstyne far from the tranquility offered by the Anglican services of morning prayer, Order for Noonday and Evensong. A phone call at 5:15 on a cold November morning leads Clare—ex-army helicopter pilot and rector of St. Alban's Episcopal Church—to join the local search and rescue team to look for the missing sister of recluse Eugene van der Hoeven, head of the 250,000-acre Haudenosaunee estate. On a day when she should be at St. Alban's preparing for the bishop's annual visit, Clare finds herself involved with Russ in an investigation involving brutal beatings, kidnapping and murder. As the day unfolds, Clare and Russ are compelled to examine their own relationship when the diocesan deacon arrives early to discuss a "serious matter" with Clare. Given her seminary training and her army background, it's not surprising that Clare deals with all that comes her way with energy, expertise, sensitivity and humor. Spencer-Fleming has brought alive the people and environs of Millers Kill in another riveting mystery.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Episcopalian priest Clare Fergusson should be preparing for the bishop's annual visit, but she is called to join the Millers Kill, New York, Search and Rescue Squad to look for Millicent van der Hoeven, who disappeared in the woods the previous evening. Millicent and her siblings were about to sell their childhood home and the surrounding land to a company that, in turn, was planning to lease it to the Adirondack Conservancy Corporation. Did Millicent lose her way, or was she kidnapped to postpone the sale, which would adversely affect a local lumbering operation? Blackmail and possible ecoterrorism complicate matters as Clare works with Sheriff Russ Van Alstyne, with whom she enjoys an ambiguously platonic relationship. -Spencer-Fleming makes effective use of her vividly realized Adirondack setting, and she keeps the story moving at a good clip, although the connections between some events stretch credulity a bit. The fourth installment in a satisfying series. Sue O'Brien
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

More About the Author

Bestselling author JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING is the winner of the Agatha, Anthony, Macavity, Dilys, Barry, Nero Wolfe, and Gumshoe Awards, and an Edgar and Romantic Times RC Award finalist. She was born at Plattsburgh Air Force Base, spending most of her childhood on the move as an army brat. She studied acting and history at Ithaca College, and received her J.D. from the University of Maine School of Law. She lives in a 190-year-old farmhouse outside of Portland, Maine, with three children, two dogs, and one husband. Visit her on the Web at www.juliaspencerfleming.com

Customer Reviews

The entire series is worth reading and is better read in sequence.
foxglove
Julia Spencer-Fleming treads a fine line between professional respect and deep passion in her wonderful series featuring Russ Van Alstyne and Clare Fergusson.
Teresa Bennett
These books are wonderful, the characters are very real, and the plots are always well thought out before hand.
Barbara Kenny

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Bookreporter on June 24, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Julia Spencer-Fleming's mystery series set in the town of Millers Kill, New York has already won rave reviews, awards, and legions of fans. TO DARKNESS AND TO DEATH, its fourth installment, should bring even more accolades to this deserving series.

Spencer-Fleming's main characters are Clare Fergusson and Russ Van Alstyne. As the two inevitably get drawn into solving mysteries in their small town, they also have developed an undeniable romantic attraction. The only problem? Clare is the town's Episcopal priest while Russ is Millers Kill's older, married police chief. The moral complexities of the pair's attraction to each other add a thought-provoking dimension to the series' excellent character development and exquisite plotting.

In TO DARKNESS AND TO DEATH, both Russ and Clare's relationship, and Spencer-Fleming's storytelling skills, are taken to the next level. The author takes the risky move of setting the novel's entire action in a single day, switching rapidly from character to character as she tells her story, often revealing events only through a series of overlapping perspectives. The result is a tale that is rich in dramatic irony, as the reader soon becomes aware of mistaken identities, lies, and misunderstandings that are unapparent to the characters, who do not have the benefit of these multiple perspectives. Despite making the reader feel all-knowing, though, Spencer-Fleming still has some tricks up her sleeves, and will almost certainly still manage to surprise most readers somewhere along the way.

Like other books in the series, this latest installment touches on environmental issues and on small-town politics.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Teresa Bennett on September 5, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Julia Spencer-Fleming treads a fine line between professional respect and deep passion in her wonderful series featuring Russ Van Alstyne and Clare Fergusson. Like all really accompished series writers, she keeps her readers initimately involved in the struggles of her characters while continuing to create plausible circumstances for an Episcopal priest and small town police chief to be working to solve crimes together. This series has a brilliant take on sense of place, almost as if it were a third character. Well worth recommending.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Judith Agee on August 4, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
She hardly appears in this story.

The cover says:

A Clare Ferguson/Russ Van Alstyne Mystery.

It should say: and every other resident of Miller's Kill and surrounding environs. There are more characters in this than a Altman movie! Quite a few of them aren't exactly bright bulbs.

I have thoroughly enjoyed the previous novels in the series, the whole Clare/Russ-- Hey let's solve a crime and fight against our mutual attraction-- theme is sorely missed.

When we do get the two of them together in To Darkness..it is good stuff.

I can't help it, the story crawled painfully along on broken glass, until Clare and Russ appear, especially Clare. What a rich character.

But, I can't complain, Spencer-Fleming has been simply outstanding with her previous novels, and others seemed to have enjoyed this one.

But, for me, it is all about Clare and Russ and their chemistry.

And we were treated to precious little of that in this outing.

I look forward to the next one coming in Oct 06.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By S. Williams on September 11, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I have enjoyed this series since the beginning. There is something very unique about Spencer-Fleming's style. She writes her dialogue in a very natural tone. Her characters are well-developed and interesting. The mysteries are challenging without being too complex to figure out.

That said, I have to say this is my least favorite book of the series. I agree with other reviewers on one major point. Russ and Claire are in the background way too much. At one point, there is something like 128 pages between scenes of them together. In that space, there is very little story involving either of them at all. This was very disappointing.

The story itself was not terribly interesting and I found myself having to reread portions just to remember who was who. Honestly, I skipped over many parts because it just got boring and tedious to read. Had Spencer-Fleming used characters we already knew, this might have been a better story. However, she brought in many new characters, of which maybe only one or two were even likable.

The scenes between Claire and Russ were excellent as usual but there just weren't enough of them.

With her first three books, Spencer-Fleming quickly became one of my favorite authors. She still is dispite this disappointing installment. I hope in the next book, the focus is back on the characters that have made me want to continue this series in the first place.

I can't name one author of a series who does not have at least one book that doesn't live up to the rest of the series. Hopefully this will be the only one.

I still recommend this book to her readers in order to keep up on the Russ/Claire storyline.
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful By W. Swartchild on September 8, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Too much time and space devoted to minor characters and not enough focus on the two major ones. This crime novel suffers from a disproportionate emphasis on the timber industry.
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