Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Review: All Mortal Flesh



All Mortal Flesh is the fifth novel in Julia Spencer-Fleming’s mystery series featuring Clare Fergusson, an Episcopalian priest and former Army helicopter pilot in the Adirondack town of Miller’s Kill, New York.

This is the best of the series so far, as Fergusson and her love interest – the married Chief of Police, Russ van Alstyne — find themselves solving a murder mystery one step ahead of those who think they are the most likely suspects. With All Mortal Flesh, Spencer-Fleming abandoned the 24-hour format she experimented with in the prior book, To Darkness and to Death (reviewed here), returning to a standard murder-solving timeframe that allowed her to develop the plot and the characters more thoroughly.

Both the mystery and the personal side of the story are spritely and satisfying, right up to the exciting finale.

Spencer-Fleming is doing a terrific job with this series. So far, she has come up with plausible enough circumstances in each book to get Fergusson involved in solving the mystery – a difficult task with any “amateur sleuth,” but particularly tricky when the sleuth is a priest. Also, she is building up a solid cast of supporting characters that bring depth to the series. Finally, she is remarkably adept at stretching out the relationship between Fergusson and van Alstyne, maintaining the sexual crackle between them, always moving the relationship forward, but never – so far – bringing them together.

There are two more books in the series. Hopefully Spencer-Fleming has more in the works.

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