First Line: The dog's barking woke Mikayla up.
All is not going smoothly at the beginning of the marriage of Chief of Police Russ Van Alstyne and the Reverend Clare Fergusson. It's a bitterly cold January. He's got a double homicide to deal with, and he's not exactly sure that he wants to be a father. As for Clare, she's still struggling with PTSD, and she's having to deal with her Bishop's investigation into her "unpriestly" behavior. (Her pregnancy came before the wedding.)
Things aren't going smoothly for other members of the Millers Kill Police Department either, but all personal problems must be put on the back burner when it is learned that the murdered couple were fostering an eight-year-old girl who had received a liver transplant... and Mikayla is missing. Without her medication, Mikayla faces transplant rejection and death. That little girl is now everyone's priority.
Julia Spencer-Fleming is one of the very best at portraying the nuanced personal relationships of her characters. The marvel is that she does this and creates a fantastic mystery, too. Periodic chapters from little Mikayla's point of view definitely keep the sense of urgency at the boil as do isolated locations and horrendous winter weather.
Some of the behavior of Russ and Clare (particularly Russ) almost had me talking to myself-- not that I'm totally wrapped up in these characters or anything-- but the mystery is just as good as the author's characterizations. I enjoyed myself trying to deduce the identities of everyone involved with Mikayla's kidnapping, and watching all the various plot threads coming together was a delight. For any of you who may be as interested in the relationship between Hadley and Kevin as I am, there's plenty of that in Through the Evil Days.
For those of you who love marvelous characterization every bit as much as you enjoy trying to solve mysteries, I can't recommend Julia Spencer-Fleming's series highly enough. There's only one catch: since the lives of the characters play such a large part in the books, if you're new to the series you should really begin at the beginning with In the Bleak Midwinter. Oh, the treat you have in store!
Through the Evil Days by Julia Spencer-Fleming
Minotaur Books © 2013
Hardcover, 368 pages
Police Procedural, #8 Fergusson & Van Alstyne mystery
Source: Purchased at The Poisoned Pen.