Out of the Deep I Cry (Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne Series #3) by Julia Spencer-Fleming, NOOK Book (eBook) | Barnes & Noble
Out of the Deep I Cry: A Clare Fergusson and Russ Van Alstyne Mystery

Out of the Deep I Cry: A Clare Fergusson and Russ Van Alstyne Mystery

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by Julia Spencer-Fleming
     
 

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Award winning author Julia Spencer-Fleming does it again in this third mystery featuring Rev. Clare Fergusson and Sheriff Russ Van Alstyne in the small town of Millers Kill, N.Y. As the small town's gossip increasingly speculates about the Rev.'s ambigous relationship with the married Sheriff, a more urgent problem is the disappearance of the doctor of Millers Kill

Overview

Award winning author Julia Spencer-Fleming does it again in this third mystery featuring Rev. Clare Fergusson and Sheriff Russ Van Alstyne in the small town of Millers Kill, N.Y. As the small town's gossip increasingly speculates about the Rev.'s ambigous relationship with the married Sheriff, a more urgent problem is the disappearance of the doctor of Millers Kill's free clinic, a town institution with roots in events from the 20s and 30s. Digging into the roots of these disturbing happenings, Russ and Clare find that painful events from the town's past can still roil the peace of Millers Kill.

Out of the Deep I Cry is a 2005 Edgar Award Nominee for Best Novel.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781429909075
Publisher:
St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
04/01/2007
Series:
Fergusson/Van Alstyne Mysteries , #3
Sold by:
Macmillan
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
336
Sales rank:
60,157
File size:
461 KB

Read an Excerpt

Out of the Deep I Cry


By Julia Spencer-Fleming

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2004 Julia Spencer-Fleming
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4299-0907-5


CHAPTER 1

THEN


Friday, June 26, 1970

Russ Van Alstyne had just gotten a tug on his line when he saw the old lady get up from between the headstones she had been trimming, lay down her gardening tools, and walk into the reservoir. She had been tidying up a tiny plot, four moldering grave markers tucked under the towering black pines, so close to the edge of Stewart's Pond Reservoir that a good motorboat wake could have kicked spray over the stones. She had appeared at some point after he and Shaun had launched their rowboat, and he had noted her, now and then, while they had drifted in the sunshine.

They had been fishing a couple hours already, enjoying the hot weather, and some brews, and some primo grass Shaun's older brother had scored down to Albany, but Russ had only landed a few sunnies, crap fish he threw back as soon as he had them off the hook.

So when his six-pound test tightened like a piano wire and his bobber disappeared beneath the water, he sat up, excited. He knew he had something good. Maybe a trout. He had just stowed his can of Pabst Blue Ribbon in the bottom of the boat and flicked off his safety to let the fish run some more line when he noticed the old woman. She had on a loose print dress, like one of the housecoats his mom had had forever, and it rose around her legs as she waded slowly away from the shore.

"Shaun, check this out," he said, uncertain that he was reading the situation right. "What's it look like that old lady's doing?"

Shaun turned his head, swinging his graduation tassel, which he had attached to his fishing hat. He twisted his upper body around for a better view. "Swimming?"

"In a dress?"

"Works for me, man. I don't want to see her in a swimsuit." Shaun turned back, facing away from the sight of the old woman marching into the water. His line jerked. "I got a strike!" He unlocked his reel and played out his line. "Relax, I've run the boat over that way before. The bottom slopes out a long ways."

She was up to her chest now, moving steadily forward, not stroking with her arms or ducking under the surface like people do when taking a dip. "She's not swimming," Russ said. "She's not even trying." He looked past her, to where a patchy trail led from the little cemetery, through the trees, and eventually up to the county road. There wasn't anyone there to keep an eye on her. She was alone. He thrust his rod at Shaun and tugged off his sneakers. He could reach her faster swimming than he could rowing. He stood up, violently pitching the little boat.

"Hey! Are you crazy? You're gonna swamp us!" Shaun twisted on his seat in time to see the old woman's chin sliding into the water. "Oh, shit," he said.

Russ shoved his jeans down and kicked them off, knocking over both their beers in the process. He balanced one foot on the hull's edge and launched himself into the water.

Even in mid-June the reservoir was cold, still gorged on the icy spring runoff from the Adirondacks. His whole body flinched inward, but he struck out for the shore: long, hard strokes through the water, his face dipping rhythmically in, out, in; sacrificing his view of her for the speed. He drew up to where the shadow of the somber pines split the water into light and dark. He treaded water, spinning around, looking for a sign of her. She had vanished.

"She went there!" Shaun yelled. He was struggling to get the rowboat turned around. "There, a couple yards to your left!"

Russ took a deep breath and submerged. In the deep twilight of the water, he could just see her, a pale wraith flickering at the edge of his vision. As he arrowed toward her, she emerged from the gloom like a photograph being developed. She was still walking downward, that was what was so creepy, toes brushing against the coarse-grained bottom, flowered dress billowing, white hair floating. She was still walking downward like a drowned ghost, and then, as if she could hear the pounding of his heart, she turned and looked at him, open-eyed under the water. Her eyes were black, set in a white, withered face. It was like having a dead woman stare at him.

He was an easy swimmer, confident in the water, but at her look, he panicked. He opened his mouth, lost his air, and struck up wildly for the surface, thrashing, kicking. He emerged choking and spluttering, hacking and gulping air. Shaun was rowing toward him, still a couple dozen yards away, and he knelt up on the bench when he saw Russ. "Can you find her?" he shouted. "Are you okay?" Unable to speak, Russ raised his hand. Shaun's hand froze on the oar. "Jesus! She's not dead already?"

She wasn't yet, but she would be if he didn't get his act together and haul her out of the water. Without letting himself think about it any further, Russ took a deep breath and doubled over, back into the deep. This time when she appeared in his sight he ignored her face and concentrated on wrapping his arm around her chin in the standard lifesaving position. She struggled against him, clawing at his arm and pulling his hair, which was almost a relief compared to her weird, ghostlike walking. Something normal, something he could deal with. He tightened his grip and churned upward, his free arm aching with the effort, her dress tangling his legs. Before he reached the surface, he felt her go limp. How many minutes since she walked in? Time yawned open. It felt like he had been under the lake forever. When he split the water, hauling her with him, she drifted, slack, held up by his arm beneath her chin.

Oh no you don't. He turned onto his back and stroked hard toward shore, floating her near his chest, so lost in the rhythm of pull and breath and kick that he didn't realize he was there until he reached back and hit coarse grit instead of cold water. He rolled to his knees and half dragged, half carried the old lady onto the grass. He pinched her nose, tilted her head back, and began mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Blow. Breath. Blow. Breath.

He heard the scrape of the rowboat's keel and then Shaun was there, falling to his knees on the other side of the old lady's head. He pushed against Russ's shoulder. "Let me take a turn, man," he said. "You need to get a breath for yourself." Russ nodded. He watched as Shaun picked up his rhythm, and then Russ let himself collapse into the grass.

He heard a gargling cough and shoved himself out of the way as Shaun rolled the old lady to her side. She gasped, choked, and then vomited up a startling quantity of water. She started to cry weakly. He met Shaun's eyes over her shoulder. Shaun spread his hands and shrugged. Now what?

Russ staggered back onto his feet. Curled up on her side, weeping, the woman didn't look scary anymore, just old and lost. "I think we ought to get her to the hospital," Russ said. "Run up the trail and see if she parked a car beside the road."

Swinging wide around the tiny cemetery, Shaun loped to the overgrown path and disappeared from view. Russ returned to the rowboat and dragged it up onto the grass as far as he could. He retrieved his jeans — stinking of beer — and his sneakers, and had just finished getting dressed when Shaun ran back down the trail.

"'Sup there," he panted, pointing toward the road. "Keys in the ignition and all."

"Good." Russ knelt by the old woman and carefully pulled her into a sitting position. "Ma'am? Can you walk? What's your name?"

The old lady leaned against his shoulder. She wasn't exactly crying anymore, but making deep, shaky sounds like a little kid. She didn't seem to hear him. He wondered if she was senile, and if so, what she was doing driving around by herself. He looked back at Shaun. "I think we need to carry her."

"What about our stuff?" Shaun pointed to the boat. "It's not just the fishing tackle, man. I still have"— he dropped his voice, as if a narc might be hiding behind one of the headstones —"almost an ounce of grass in there."

The woman gave a rattling sigh and lapsed into a still silence that made Russ uneasy. "Bring it," he said. "Or hide it. This lady needs help. We gotta get her to a doctor."

"Oh, shit," Shaun said. "Okay." He strode to the rowboat and grabbed the backpack he used to carry his paraphernalia. "But if anything happens to the boat, you're gonna be the one who explains it to my dad."

Russ laughed, a short, sharp sound. "Fine. I'm not gonna be around long enough for him to kick my ass."

They laced their hands together and eased the woman into a seat carry. With Shaun on the other side, she didn't weigh as much as some of the sacks Russ toted for customers at Greuling's Grocery. The trail up to the county road was less than a half mile, and within ten minutes they burst out of the shade of the pines and into open air and brilliant sunshine. Shaun jerked his head toward a '59 Rambler wagon. Two-toned: baby-shit brown and tired tan. Russ pulled open the back door and shut his eyes for a moment against the wave of thick, moist heat that rolled out of the car.

"Where should we put her?" Shaun asked.

"Lay her down in the backseat." Russ looked in the rear for a blanket or a coat to lay under her, but there was nothing except more gardening equipment.

They stretched the woman out on the sticky plastic seat. She looked clammy and paler than before. Russ had a sudden image of himself and Shaun driving into town in an overheated granny car with a corpse in the back. He shuddered.

"You okay?"

"Yeah, sure. You want to drive?"

Shaun held up his hands. "No way, man. If we get stopped, I don't want the cops getting too close to me." He sniffed his shirt. "Can you smell it on me?"

Russ rolled his eyes. "You know it's good stuff if it's making you 'noid." He slid into the driver's seat and adjusted it back to fit his long frame. "Hop in."

The ride into Millers Kill passed in silence. Russ was concentrating on driving as fast as he could. Shaun was tense, hissing between his teeth whenever Russ took a corner too tightly, gripping his seat if another car went past them. And in the back was — nothing. Russ couldn't even hear the old lady breathe. As they passed from the forest down into the rolling farmland, the back of his neck began to creep. He couldn't shake the idea that if he turned around, he would see her lying there, wet, unbreathing, looking at him with her black eyes. He was grateful when they came to the town and he had to focus on navigating through the stopand-go traffic.

He pulled into emergency parking at the Washington County Hospital and killed the engine. Shaun looked at him. "Well?" he said. "Let's get her in there."

Russ forced himself to twist in his seat and check behind him. And, of course, he saw nothing except an unconscious old lady. His shoulders twitched at the sudden release of tension. "Yeah," he said to Shaun.

If he had been less weirded out and more on top of things, he would have gone into the emergency room, fetched out a couple of nurses, and had them wheel the old lady into the place themselves. He thought of it, later, but at the time, sliding her out of the Rambler seemed like the most logical thing to do. He took her feet and Shaun took her shoulders. He was so intent on avoiding a collision while walking backward that he didn't see the commotion their entrance caused. Shaun did, though, and nearly dropped the woman on her head.

"For Chrissake, Shaun, don't just —"

"What are you boys doing?" The nurse bearing down on them had a bosom like the prow of a battleship, and the face to match. In one swift move, she caught the old woman's wrist lightly in one hand while digging her other fingers bone-deep into Russ's shoulder.

"Ow!" he said. "We're not doing anything!"

"Is this your grandmother?"

"I don't know who it is! We just found her. At Stewart's Pond. She walked into the water. She tried to drown herself."

She sized him up with a single flick of her eyelashes, and even though she barely came up to his chest, she somehow managed to speak over his head. "Skelly, McClaren, get that gurney over here." She glared at Shaun, who was looking longingly at the exit doors. "Don't even think about moving, young man."

Two nurses scarcely older than Shaun and Russ rolled a pallet over. One of them glanced sympathetically at Russ. The battleship let go of his shoulder in order to ease the old woman onto the gurney.

"Into the examination room," she said to the other nurses, who obeyed her with such speed that Russ figured she must terrorize everybody she came into contact with. She hooked her hands around his and Shaun's arms and followed the gurney, towing them past the admissions desk and through the swinging double doors into the examination room. She bulldozed through a square of limp blue curtains shielding the old woman from public view. "Get Dr. Hansvoort," she said firmly. One of the young nurses disappeared. "Well, don't just stand there," she told the remaining nurse. "Get her vitals. Ah, Dr. Hansvoort. Thank you for coming so promptly."

The young resident who had parted the curtains looked as if he wouldn't have dared take his time. "Nurse Vigue?"

She rattled Russ's and Shaun's arms. "All right, you two. Tell Dr. Hansvoort here what happened." She narrowed her eyes. "Truthfully."

Russ and Shaun fell all over themselves trying to get their story out. While they described the woman's strange actions, Russ's dive to rescue her, and the mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, Dr. Hansvoort clicked on a penlight and looked into his patient's eyes, nose, and throat.

When they had finished their recital — Shaun's last comment had been "... and so we'd like to go now, please"— the doctor frowned.

"Attempted suicide," he said to Nurse Vigue. "Or perhaps senile dementia. You had better put a call in to the police."

"My thoughts exactly," she said, nodding her approval at the doctor's performance. She captured Shaun and Russ again and sailed them back through the swinging doors into the waiting room. "You boys sit here. The police will have questions about this incident."

And if they don't, Russ thought, she'll make sure to tell them they ought to.

"But," Shaun began.

"Sit." She arched a thinly plucked brow at them and seemed to soften a little. "We have quite a few back issues of Boy's Life magazine. I'm sure you'll enjoy reading them."

"For God's sake, sit down and read," Russ muttered to Shaun, taking a chair himself and opening the first magazine at hand.

Two issues of Popular Mechanics later, the emergency-room doors opened and Russ looked up to see the weather-beaten face of Chief Liddle. He was neither large nor intimidating — in fact, he looked more like a farmer than a cop — but both boys sank in their seats when he glanced their way.

The chief spoke briefly with Nurse Vigue and then vanished into the examination room. "Now you're screwed," Shaun whispered. "He's had his eye on you ever since he caught us torching tires at the dump."

Russ shook his head. "I'm not scared of him," he said, and it was true. He had seen the chief a few too many times, back before his dad passed away, gently steering the incoherent and maudlin Walter Van Alstyne up the front walk and into the parlor. The chief always said the same thing: "He's had a few too many, Margy. I guess he needs to sleep it off." Then he'd look real close into Russ's mom's face and ask, "You be all right here with him while he's like this?"

And she would get all brisk and efficient and tell him they would make out fine, and then they'd help Dad to his bed and she'd press a cup of coffee — usually refused — on the chief.

It wasn't until after his dad was dead that Russ realized what the chief had really been asking his mom, and when he did, it enraged him, that anyone could think his gentle, soft-spoken father would ever harm his mother. But later, he thought about how the chief had always acted as if Walter Van Alstyne's drunkenness was a onetime thing, and how careful he was of his mom's pride. And he realized the question wasn't that far-fetched after all. Because in his own way, his dad had hurt his mom a lot.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Out of the Deep I Cry by Julia Spencer-Fleming. Copyright © 2004 Julia Spencer-Fleming. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Julia Spencer-Fleming was born at Plattsburgh Air Force Base and spent 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 180-year-old farmhouse outside of Portland, Maine, with her husband, three children, and their beloved big dog.


JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING is an Agatha, Anthony, Barry, Dilys, Gumshoe and Macavity Award winner. Her books have been shortlisted for the Edgar, and Romantic Times RC awards. Julia lives in southern Maine with her husband and three children.

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Out of the Deep I Cry (Clare Fergusson Series #3) 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 69 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is an above-average novel on a number of levels: a complex but not mind-numbing mystery not fully explained until the very end, rich characterization and world-building, fine writing, original characters and setting. A really excellent read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
These books keep getting better and better. I really loved how this mystery kept going back and forth between the present and past and how it wasn't solved until the very end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
BcreekBuckeye More than 1 year ago
I love this series so much. Julie Spencer-Fleming is a master at characterization and scene setting. I feel like I am walking the streets of Millers Kill when I read her books. I adore Russ and Clare for their flawed humanity which makes them more like real people rather than characters in a book and all the secondary characters are engaging as well. I highly recommend the entire series.
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acorley84 More than 1 year ago
I was hoping that the further I got along in the series, the more that it would grow on me, but unfortunately that was not the case. This series is not horrible, but it's not worth it to me to continue on from this point. After reading this book (the 3rd in the series), I haven't rated any of the three books higher than 3 stars, so I think that there are too many other 5 star reads out there to continue on in the series.  I did think that this was the best book of the series thus far, but as with the other stories, I felt like it took way to long to get through the story. I felt like the first 75% of the story drug along, but the last 25% proved to be a great story. I only wish that the first half were as good, then it certainly would be at least a 4 star read. This story was more interested in the other three story lines. It did have a good element of mystery and certainly was not predictable it just didn't seem to hold my interest that well. I still find myself interested in finding out where the story of the characters go, but not enough to read the next book. The characters are certainly interesting and unique and have an unexplainable relationship.  I do really wish that I enjoyed this series more, but I just have such a hard time getting through the books.
gloriafeit More than 1 year ago
The Clare Fergusson Russ Van Alstyne novels now number seven. This, the third in the series, has been issued in a trade paperback edition, among others recently published by Minotaur Books. The mystery around which the tale revolves starts in 1930, when Jane Ketchem’s husband, Jonathan, disappears without a trace. Flashbacks to the 20’s and the history of the Ketchems over past decades are present throughout the entire book, its chapters delineated “Then” and “Now.” There is a contemporary and somewhat analogous mystery as well, when another man goes missing, and the police force in the Adirondack Mountain region of Miller’s Kill, New York (population 8,000), headed up by Police Chief Van Alstyne, attempts to track him, or his body, down. Russ had been a cop, military and civilian, for 25 years, but as usual, he and parish priest Fergusson end up doing dual investigations, despite his reminder “Me cop, you priest.” But that never stopped Clare before, much to the dismay of the church elders. The growing attraction between the two is, as always, a major plot point, and becoming harder for the small town gossips to ignore the weekly lunches they enjoy, mindful of the fact that Clare is thirty-five and that Russ, a recovering alcoholic, is forty-nine and, more importantly, a married man. Let it be said that I am a huge fan of this series, but had somehow missed this and the subsequent entry, which is next up for this reader. I have to add that I felt a bit let down on reading this one, unsure of exactly why, other than that some of the flashback scenes seemed to slow down the novel, as did some of the historical aspects, which were at the same time interesting.- - contradictory, I know. There is much discussion of the effects on the town when the old mills, “ornate brick mausoleums for the town’s prosperity,” closed down, and the valley was flooded when the dam was constructed. Over all it was a good read, and one which is recommended.
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Joanne-55 More than 1 year ago
I Highly recommend this book in the Claire Fergusson Series!!!! Can't wait to read the next one.
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lib1956 More than 1 year ago
I really enjoy the Clare Fergusson Series and this one did not let me down.
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knotdr More than 1 year ago
I like the combo of police work, murder and friendship developed here.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am so happy I "discovered" Julia Spencer-Fleming and the Clare Fergusson Series. I started with the first book and look forward to the rest. The characters are faced with real life situations and engage the reader in how their lives enfold.
Lisanne More than 1 year ago
Everything that this lady writes is wonderful. I bought the nook version of this title because I wanted to make sure that I always had a copy. I have read all her books and am waiting with excitement for the next one to arrive - hopefully in the near future. Please give her a try - you will be happy you did!
iPodReader More than 1 year ago
While Clare and Russ try to come to terms with their own secret feelings, some very old secrets elsewhere in Miller's Kill are coming to light. Buried tragedies reverberate down through the generations and bring new pain with them-- including some very real physical pain for Russ. I'm trying to savor this series slowly because I don't want to come to the end of it! Highly recommended.
robbin64 More than 1 year ago
For those that have started this series with Clare and Russ, it is something you have to do...read and see where its going to lead and get a good mystery out of it also. Julia Spencer Fleming writes to catch your attention and keep it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago