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

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

by Julia Spencer-Fleming

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In Through the Evil Days, New York Times bestselling author Julia Spencer-Fleming raises the stakes for Russ and Clare, putting their new marriage, their unborn child, a missing teen, and their very own lives on the line.

On a frigid January night, Chief of Police Russ Van Alstyne and Reverend Clare Fergusson are called to the scene of a raging fire. The extent of the tragedy isn't known until the next day, when the charred remains of a man and woman are recovered—along with evidence showing they were shot execution style.

The last thing Russ needs are two potential homicides. 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 ice-fishing at a remote Adirondack lake.

St. Alban's Church is still in turmoil over the Reverend Clare Fergusson's news that she's five and a half months pregnant—but only two and a half months married. Worried her post-deployment drinking and drug use may have damaged the baby, she awaits the outcome of the bishop's investigation into her "unpriestly" behavior: a scolding, censure, or permanent suspension.

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. And her ex-husband's in town—threatening to take custody of their kids unless Hadley pays him off with money she doesn't have.

When Hadley discovers that the dead couple fostered an eight-year-old girl who was a recent liver donee, the search for the killer takes on a new and terrible urgency. With no access to immunosuppressant drugs, transplant rejection will kill the girl in a matter of days.

As a deadly ice storm downs power lines and immobilizes roads, Russ and Clare search desperately for the truth about the missing child, but the hunters will become the hunted when they are trapped in the cabin beside the frozen lake and stalked through the snowbound woods by a killer.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250022653
Publisher: St. Martin''s Publishing Group
Publication date: 11/05/2013
Series: Fergusson/Van Alstyne Mysteries , #8
Sold by: Macmillan
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 19,860
File size: 4 MB

About the Author

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. The Clare Fergusson and Russ Van Alstyne mysteries include the multiple award-winning books In the Bleak Midwinter (first in the series) and All Mortal Flesh. Julia lives in southern Maine.
JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING is The New York Times bestselling author of One Was A Soldier, and an Agatha, Anthony, Dilys, Barry, Macavity, and Gumshoe Award winner. She studied acting and history at Ithaca College and received her J.D. at the University of Maine School of Law. Her books have been shortlisted for the Edgar, Nero Wolfe, and Romantic Times RC awards. Julia lives in a 190-year-old farmhouse in southern Maine.

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

Customer Reviews

Through the Evil Days (Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne Series #8) 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 23 reviews.
linajoan More than 1 year ago
I have been looking forward to this next installment of the story of Clare and Russ since pre-ordering the book during the summer. Unfortunately, I was very disappointed. The elements that most appealed to me in the previous books, Clare's faith, the dynamic dialogue between Clare and Russ and the coziness of Miller's Kill and its residents was missing. Considering the seriousness of Clare's situation with the Bishop as presented at the beginning of the story, there was very little in-depth discussion between Clare & Ross, or most importantly, between Clare and God. The normal depth of character was missing and she appeared as a rather defiant, self-centered executive defying the wishes of a superior rather than a deeply spiritual individual maintaining a fierce commitment to a firmly held calling. Both Russ and Clare were very one dimensional in contract to the flawed but essentially good people readers have come to love. The Kevin/Hadley story suffered from a similar superficiality. Despite the dangers faced by Hadley and her children, it was hard to be sympathetic to her sudden change of heart toward Flynn couched as it was in a physical encounter in such a potentially public setting. The impression overall was one of an overly complex set of dangerous circumstances comprising a "What can possibly go wrong next?" that became so predictable it was clear something else was going to go wrong. There was far more emphasis on creating increasingly dangerous and repeatedly escalating dangers at the expense of dialogue and character development. By the conclusion, the only character I was at all concerned about was Flynn. The spiritual overtones that invigorated the series previously are totally missing. Perhaps this will attract new readers but I fear it may alienate those, like myself, who fell in love with the series for the tenderness between Russ and Clare and her commitment to her calling. I hope these elements will reappear in future stories.
LoveToReadJFE More than 1 year ago
The story of “Through the Evil Days” spins out over one week in the lives of our favorite Millers Kill residents, all of whom face daunting challenges and inner apprehension as they are thrown into situations fraught with emotional upheaval. While Russ and Clare struggle to come to grips with her unexpected pregnancy, Clare once again finds herself at odds with the bishop and Russ is caught up in an unexpected issue with the aldermen. The department’s investigation of an early-morning house fire that has claimed the life of two people quickly takes an even more ominous turn when a kidnapping is revealed. Officers Hadley Knox and Kevin Flynn are thrown together in the investigation, forcing them to cope with difficult moments and tough decisions even as Mother Nature unleashes the ice storm of the century, stranding Russ and Clare in an isolated cabin at the lake where they have gone for their long-delayed honeymoon. With the dangerous Adirondack storm knocking out communications, closing roads, and bringing daily life to a virtual standstill, nerves are frayed, tension is running high, and the clock is ticking . . . . Julia Spencer-Fleming’s eagerly-awaited eighth installment of the Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne series doesn’t disappoint. Here we find all the elements we’ve come to expect from her books: a tightly-crafted story that puts the reader right in the middle of a multi-layered mystery, exploration and insight into personal relationships, life-changing reveals and decisions. The story teems with excitement, offering up enough twists and turns along the way to keep the reader eagerly page-turning; as always, there are a few gut-wrenching “wow . . . I never saw that coming” moments to ratchet up the turmoil. It’s a powerful, emotional, can’t-put-it-down masterpiece that will keep readers on the edge of their seats right to the very last word. A highly recommended, satisfying read worthy of far more than five stars . . . don’t miss this one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Clare and Russ have become cartoon like super human cartoon characters enduring unbelieveable trauma without any consequences to body or soul. There is too much ink spent on Kevin and Hadley. The timeline is stetching out way too long. Clare has been pregnant years with the same baby!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm very sad about this book. I'm very sad it ended. I love this series of books. I can't wait for the next one.
gromine49 More than 1 year ago
This is a WONDERFUL story, whether you have read all of the books in the Clare Fergusson/Russell van Alstyne Millers Kill series or are just starting out. This book picks up a few months from where the previous novel, One Was a Soldier, left off. Clare and Russell, now married and expecting  a child decide to go away for a few days to try out a cabin in the wilderness and what happens next will surprise you. But as I said, you can pick up this book and know exactly where you are. A gripping, keep you on the edge of your seat read. It has everything you would want in a novel: mystery, suspense, romance, and just as I like to call it, every day happenings.  You will not regret reading this book. It has caused me to go back and re-read the series and to me, that is what reading is all about.
SamanthaHM More than 1 year ago
Once again Clare manages to get herself and Russ into - and out of - difficult situations. And we're set up for wanting the next book in the series. Keep them coming!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The usual careful plotting makes this another well-constructed and edge-of-the-seat suspense, as Claire and Russ face the prospect of imminent parenthood. The complications, both trivial and inspiring are so real to anyone who has ever been closely involved with parish life. Do not miss this fine read! Y7
elizabeth39 More than 1 year ago
The time line for the events was too long and there was too much jumping around from character to character. It seemed as if it would never end. Which may have been a blessing. The ending was not satisfactory and left me shocked and confused. What was the final decisions between Clare and Russ? Why did the author hurt and humiliate Hadley and Flynn so that their situation cannot be repaired in a future book? Did Russ have a position with the police? Unfortunately, I do not intend to read another book in the series to get any answers.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I waited 2 years for this book to come out. The other 7 books were wonderful. It was a long drawn out 5 days and no woman who is 5 months pregnant would have been able to keep up the pace or the harm done to her body. I don't care what kind of army training. Also, with the drug abuse early in the pregnancy-the story is becoming too far-fetched. On top of that the ending with the other two officers just let the book fall even flatter.
VirtuousWomanKF More than 1 year ago
4 1/2 Stars  I loved this book - the funny, the sad, and the heartbreak.  I have read this series over two weeks and I am feeling sad that I'm finished.  Not sure if author is continuing the series but I certainly hope so.  The characters are just so down to earth and I love each of them despite their quirkiness.  Flynn my heart breaks for you.  :(
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i love this series of books. I look forward to the next book. I am sure all will work out for all of them.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love the character development of flynn and hadley
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Highly recommended. I read the whole series. Very enjoyable. Can't wait for the next one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read quite a few of her books and like them very much, this one is excellent
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Joann_vermont More than 1 year ago
A little different from her other books but an enjoyable read.
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anonLJ More than 1 year ago
Was waiting for this one to come out. Now I can't wait for the next!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good author but Amazon is selling this on Kindle for $6 less