Saturday, March 18, 2017

A Fountain Filled with Blood by Julia Spencer-Fleming

Image from Julia Spencer-Fleming

Like In the Bleak Midwinter, this mystery portrays life in the small town of Miller's Kill, New York. Sparks fly between married police chief Russ Van Alstyne and Episcopalian priest Claire Fegusson, and the author serves up plenty of bons mots and double entendre.

The image suggested by the title sounds off putting and gory, but the line is unrelated to the plot. It's from a hymn about redemption by William Cowper, an English poet who died in 1800.

Claire is ex-military, and she was past the the first flush of youth before receiving her priestly calling. In this book, she drinks enough cocktails to make her tiddly. She also gets to fly a helicopter.

Fortunately, three or four kir royales aren't enough to take away the sharpness of this unusual woman's mind. Nor does the attempt to sabotage the chopper she's about to take up on a rescue mission succeed quite as well as the saboteur had hoped.

In the final scene, Russ and Claire walk borrowed dogs, using every ounce of self-control to keep their hands off each other. Suggesting they go back, he comments, "There's a storm coming."

Yes there is. A perfect storm of mysteries by an author who has put her unique stamp on the genre. Reverend Claire encourages her congregation to stand against injustice in their church and their town. In the same way, her creator, Julia Spencer-Fleming, uses ordinary good folk to fight the prejudice, controversy and violence of contemporary America, creating plots that are courageous, intelligent and believable.

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