Through the Evil Days (Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne Series #8)
  • Through the Evil Days (Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne Series #8)
  • Through the Evil Days (Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne Series #8)
  • Through the Evil Days (Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne Series #8)
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Through the Evil Days (Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne Series #8)

3.6 24
by Julia Spencer-Fleming

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Now a New York Times bestselling author, Julia Spencer-Fleming rises to the accolade with a powerful, and emotionally charged novel readers have been yearning for.

On a frigid January night, Chief of Police Russ Van Alstyne and Reverend Clare Fergusson are called to the scene of a raging fire, that quickly becomes a double homicide and

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Now a New York Times bestselling author, Julia Spencer-Fleming rises to the accolade with a powerful, and emotionally charged novel readers have been yearning for.

On a frigid January night, Chief of Police Russ Van Alstyne and Reverend Clare Fergusson are called to the scene of a raging fire, that quickly becomes a double homicide and kidnapping. Which is the very last thing Russ needs...Currently he's struggling with the prospect of impending fatherhood. And his new wife is not at all happy with his proposal for their long-delayed honeymoon: a week in an unelectrified ice-fishing cabin. The vestry of St. Alban's Church has called for the bishop to investigate Clare's "unpriestly" pregnancy. She has one week to find out if she will be scolded, censured, or suspended from her duties. Officer Hadley Knox is having a miserable January as well. Her on-again-off-again lover, Kevin Flynn, has seven days to weigh an offer from the Syracuse Police Department that might take him half a state away.

As the days and hours tick by, Russ and Clare fight personal and professional battles they've never encountered.  In the course of this one tumultuous week the lives of the Millers-Kill residents readers have come to love and cherish change forever.  Readers have waited years for Through The Evil Days and Julia Spencer-Fleming delivers with the exquisite skill and craftsmanship that have made her such a success.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In Agatha-winner Spencer-Fleming’s eighth Clare Ferguson/Russ Van Alstyne mystery (after 2011’s One Was a Soldier), the individual personal dramas of her leads overshadow the detective work. Clare, an Episcopal priest, and new husband Russ, the police chief of Millers Kill, N.Y., are looking forward to a week’s honeymoon. Meanwhile, Clare’s pregnancy, which began before their wedding, places her career in jeopardy, and Russ learns that his department may be completely eliminated. Clare’s condition evokes conflicting feelings in Russ, whose first wife suffered numerous miscarriages. Russ also fears that Clare’s substance abuse before learning she was pregnant will harm the baby. With all those issues to work through, the story’s central crime—an act of arson aimed at covering up a double murder—almost recedes into the background. While the couple’s complex relationship will engage readers, the very pregnant Clare’s active involvement in getting the bad guys strains credulity. Author tour. Agent: Meg Ruley, Jane Rotrosen Agency. (Nov.)
From the Publisher
“Spencer-Fleming knows her craft, which lends authority to the subsequent investigation. But it’s character that really counts here.” —The New York Times Book Review

One Was a Soldier is one of her best and most heartfelt in this superior series."

—Oline H. Cogdill, Florida Sun Sentinel

“This is a surefire winner, taking the linchpin Fergusson–Van Alstyne relationship to a new level . . . Fans who have been waiting eagerly for her latest won’t be disappointed; this series, as intelligent as it is enthralling, just keeps getting better.” —Booklist (starred)

Kirkus Reviews
Now that they're married and pregnant--not in that order--Episcopal priest Clare Fergusson and Millers Kill Police Chief Russ Van Alstyne (Once Was a Soldier, 2011, etc.) are in for the honeymoon from hell. Mikayla Johnson has gone missing. The outlook is bleak, since whoever took her evidently shot her foster parents, retired federal agents Ted and Helen MacAllen, and torched their house, making sure to do an especially thorough job. Since Mikayla, 8, had a liver transplant not long ago, she's on a complicated regimen of immunosuppressants, and if she doesn't keep up with them, she'll die. As the Millers Kill Police Department begins their ticking-clock search for the missing child who's been abandoned by her meth-head mother, Annie, and her abusive ex-con father, Hector DeJean (whose name is a broad wink to industry insiders), they pick up chilling hints that her disappearance may be linked to Annie's well-connected drug supplier Tim LaMar. Meanwhile, there's trouble aplenty on the homefront. Russ learns that the state police, backed by some budget-conscious local officials, are looking to disband the Millers Kill department and take over its duties. Officer Kevin Flynn, a mainstay of the force whose relationship with Officer Hadley Knox is foundering, is offered a tempting job with the Syracuse Police Department. Hadley's smarmy ex-husband, Dylan, pops up from California demanding money she doesn't have or their children. Clare's bishop, scandalized by her premature pregnancy, asks her to resign her pulpit at St. Alban's or face disciplinary charges. There's barely room for the once-in-a-lifetime ice storm that strikes just as Clare and Russ are hunkering down in an isolated cabin in Cooper's Corner to get some quiet time for themselves. Spencer-Fleming, whose record has shown that she's not afraid to pile on the plot complications, ladles out threats, betrayal, redemption and seriously bad weather until Clare loses track of how many times her honeymoon has been interrupted by bad guys who've held her husband at gunpoint.
Val McDermid

Thrilling, chilling and the suspense is killing.
S.J. Bolton

Tense, stylish and accomplished: In Through the Evil Days Julia Spencer-Fleming delivers a very enjoyable mystery thriller.
The New York Times Book Review on One Was a Soldier

Spencer-Fleming knows her craft, which lends authority to the subsequent investigation. But it's character that really counts here.
New York Times Book Review Marilyn Stasio

It's amazing Spencer-Fleming manages to carry off a layered plot that opens with an arson, a double homicide and a kidnapping and expands into a broader picture of the drug use, domestic violence and desolation squeezing the life out of this small town.
author of The Shadow Tracer Meg Gardiner

Through the Evil Days is deep, rich, and compelling--and as chilling as hell. Julia Spencer-Fleming has written a masterful novel.
New York Times bestselling author Lauren Willig

Through the Evil Days is a treat for hardcore Spencer-Fleming fans and newcomers alike. It leaves only one question unanswered: how long do we have to wait for the next one?
Booklist (starred review)

This among the best in the series, combining steady action with complex, sympathetic characters and an immersive setting. Clare and Russ are an unusual but fitting pair, and Spencer-Fleming perfectly captures the contrasting emotions of love and frustration that define marriage. Readers seeking tales of city crime reaching small towns will love the well-crafted setting and story but shouldn't expect a cozy; there's plenty of grit here.
New York Times bestselling author of Paranoia and Joseph Finder

Through the Evil Days is both a powerful psychological thriller and a pulse-pounding action adventure that shows us once again why Julia Spencer-Fleming is one of our finest writers of suspense.
John Connolly

Through the Evil Days is an exceptionally fine addition to an already accomplished series. Julia Spencer-Fleming is one of mystery fiction's treasures.
John Hart

A story of greed, betrayal, and wounded love, One Was a Soldier left me entertained, satisfied, and a shade wiser about the cost of war.
Florida Sun Sentinel on One Was a Soldier

One Was a Soldier is one of her best and most heartfelt in this superior series.
Booklist (starred review) on One Was a Soldier

Spencer-Fleming's most ambitious book yet - think The Best Years of Our Lives with will continue to be impressed by her resourceful determination never to tell the same story twice.
Louise Penny

An absolute tour de force! Both a superb murder mystery and a gripping examination of the suffering of returning soldiers.
Library Journal
Demand will be high for the eighth entry in this multi-award winning series (after One Was a Soldier). Pregnant Clare is directly in harm's way in this chilling January tale.

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Product Details

St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne Series, #8
Edition description:
First Edition
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.20(d)

Read an Excerpt


The dog’s barking woke Mikayla up. Ted and Helen—she was supposed to call them Uncle Ted and Aunt Helen, but she never did inside her own head—had told her Oscar was really a sweet dog. And it was true, he never growled at her. He was so big, though, with his tail going thunk-thunk-thunk and his long pink tongue and his stabby white teeth. Mikayla didn’t care how sweet he was, he scared her.
Right now his big deep bark was booming, over and over and over again. Mikayla burrowed beneath her quilts and pulled the pillow over her head. “Shut up, stupid dog,” she whispered. She waited for the thud of Ted and Helen’s bedroom door, footsteps on the stairs. It sounded like Oscar had to go bad. She shivered. What if the MacAllens didn’t do anything? She would have to let him out. That was the rule. Then she’d have to stand around in the freezing hallway until he pooped so she could let him back in.
She pushed her pillow away and scooted up. It sounded like the dog was already outside. Maybe Ted had let him out and fallen asleep. Grown-ups could sleep through anything. There had been times Mikayla had to talk to her mom before the bus came in the morning, and she’d shake her and shake her and Mom still didn’t do anything but mumble and roll over.
She climbed out of bed and put on her booties and her robe. The MacAllens had given them to her the afternoon she had come out of the hospital. The robe was pink and woolly and the booties had real sheepskin inside, which was good, because the MacAllens’ old house was always cold. She missed her mom’s apartment. She could spend all Saturday watching TV in her shortie pajamas, it was so warm inside.
Mikayla opened the bedroom door and wrinkled her nose. The hallway stank like a gas station, and the night-light was out. Moonlight streamed from Ted and Helen’s open door at the other end of the hall, and for a second she thought about trying to get one of them to let Oscar in. But they might be mad if she woke them up.
She clung to the railing as she walked down the unlit stairs. The stink was even worse in the front hall. She had her hand on the doorknob to let Oscar in when someone said, “Wait.”
She screamed.
“Shh. Shh. Mikayla. It’s me.”
She caught her breath at the familiar voice. “You scared me!”
There was a clank, like a pail setting on the floor, and then a figure moved out of the deep dark of the living room into the shadowy gray of the hall. “I’m sorry. I’m here to take you to your mom.”
“My mom?” Her heart was going bumpety-bump. She wasn’t sure if it was from her fright or from the idea of seeing her mom. “Really?”
“Yeah. I was just coming upstairs to get you.”
“But—” She frowned. “It’s the middle of the night. Are you supposed to be here?”
“Look, do you want to stay here with them? Fine by me. I’ll just leave.”
“No! Wait!” Mikayla stumbled toward the living room. “I wanna go. I wanna see Mom.”
“I dunno. Maybe I made a mistake, coming to get you.”
“No! No! Just let me—I have a suitcase. I’ll get my clothes, and then we can go.”
“I’ll get your clothes. You go get in my car. It’s in the driveway. I’ll be there in a minute”
It was snowy outside, and she was in her robe and pajamas, but she was afraid if she argued, she’d be left behind. “Okay.” She turned back to the door. “Can I take my coat and my book bag? They’re right here.”
“Yes, yes, yes. Jesus.”
She snatched them off their hooks and opened the door. Oscar’s barking got wilder.
“And don’t let the dog in!”
Mikayla shut the door behind her and ran along the narrow shoveled path to the drive. Oscar, standing in the snow, whined as she passed him, but he didn’t do anything to stop her. She jumped into the backseat of the waiting car and slammed the door. She sat, shaking from excitement and fear, her arms wrapped around her book bag. She was going to see her mom again. It had been so long.
Then she had an awful thought. Her recorder. She had left it in the bedroom, and Monday was music class. If she forgot it again, Ms. Clauson would kill her.
She could run back and get it. She knew right where it was. It wouldn’t take more than a couple of minutes. That would be okay. Maybe. She bit her lip and opened the door. Slipped out. She left the door open. That would prove she was coming right back.
She had taken three or four steps toward the house when she heard a whumping noise. Oscar stopped barking and lay in the snow. He whimpered. It sounded almost as bad as the barking. Then there was another whump, and another. In the black, moon-blank windows, she saw something orange-red kindle. It was far back, like something in the kitchen, maybe.
Oscar whined again.
The door slammed, and for a second she thought, It’s Ted, he’s running to stop me, he’s coming to get me, he’s going to save me, but she could see it wasn’t Ted MacAllen at all.
The orange-red glow grew brighter. Oscar sprang up, barking and barking, and Mikayla’s whole body shook. She remembered what she learned on Fire Safety Day: Don’t run back into a burning building, and that was a burning building, and what she had to do was call 911 and the firefighters at the station had been nice and she had gotten a real, hard helmet—
“What the hell are you doing? Get into the car, goddammit!”
She scrambled into the car. The door slammed against the bottom of her boot, like a hard slap. She twisted around to see out the back. The firefighter helmet was up in the bedroom, too, she remembered. With her recorder. She stuck her thumb in her mouth. The car engine firing up almost hid the sound of breaking glass. She sucked her thumb harder. She wasn’t going to think about Ted and Helen. She wasn’t going to think at all. But she stayed facing backwards looking at the snow and the moonlight and the house and the fire, until they rounded the bend in the road and she was gone.

Copyright © 2013 by Julia Spencer-Fleming

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