Monday, July 3, 2017

A 4th of July Mystery: A Fountain Filled with Blood

This is the second mystery in the Reverend Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne series by Julia Spencer-Fleming. Clare Fergusson has left her job in the military as a helicopter pilot to become an Episcopal priest in the small town of Miller's Kill, New York. Russ Van Alstyne is the police chief and they seem to run into each other a lot.

As the citizens of Miller's Kill, New York head into the July 4th weekend, two gay men are severely beaten in separate incidents. Clare urges the police to notify the public; Russ feels like this could lead to copycat incidents. When another man, also homosexual, is killed, Russ must figure out if the crimes are connected. Mixed in with this are conflicts within the town over development of a luxury spa and environmental issues.


Having read the first book in this series, In the Bleak Midwinter, I wasn't sure if I was going to enjoy the 2nd book in the series as much. I was not entirely  comfortable with the attraction that develops between the two major characters in the book, Clare Fergusson and police chief Russ Van Alstyne. It seemed out of character for both of them and nowhere for it to go realistically. That does continue to be an underlying theme in the books from what I have read.

If I was being picky, I would have other complaints. Clare is an intelligent person with strength of character; in view of that, some of the situations she gets herself into don't make sense. Yet, even with my reservations in that area, I found this book so compelling and involving that I could hardly put it down. I started it one evening and finished it the next day. Granted, that was on a weekend but that rarely happens to me.

Although I do not participate in organized religious activities, I do enjoy reading mysteries with a clerical theme. I like to learn about other religions (I grew up in a Methodist church in Alabama). Although the plot in A Fountain Filled with Blood does not center around the church, Clare's behavior and choices are informed by the expectations inherent in her role in the church.  And I was surprised at what I learned about the Episcopal church, or at least the one in Miller's Kill, New York.

So, on many levels, I enjoyed this book and I will be reading the next one to see where Clare goes from here.

Other resources:


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Publisher:  St. Mattin's Paperbacks, 2004. Orig. pub. 2003.
Length:     371 pages
Format:     Paperback
Series:      Clare Fergusson / Russ Van Alstyne, #2
Setting:     Upstate New York
Genre:       Mystery
Source:     I purchased my copy in 2006.


27 comments:

  1. You haven't sold me on this book or author - which is probably a good thing.

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    1. I do know what you mean, Col. As you can see, I am of two minds about this series, but it is entertaining.

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  2. TracyK: Sounds like a good book but no one for me to add to the TBR pile.

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    1. I keep trying to resist adding to the TBR pile also, Bill.

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  3. Tracy, I'm looking for a mystery, CF or detective with any connection to France's celebration of 14 July (Quatorze Juillet.
    Do you or does anybody have a suggestion?

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    1. I have friends who have a Bastille Day party every July, but otherwise haven't thought much about that event. I did find two links to celebrate Bastille day with mysteries set in France but none seemed to be specifically tied to the day.

      They are this one:
      http://mysteryreadersinc.blogspot.com/2015/07/bastille-day-mysteries-set-in-france.html

      and this:
      http://www.crimefictionlover.com/2014/07/bastille-day-special-the-best-of-french-crime-fiction/

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    2. Thanks....I look at the blog suggestions!

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  4. I thought of The Day of the Jackel by F. Forsyth but the assassination attempt on De Gaulle takes place on 25th August, liberation day France in WWII.

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    1. That is a great book (and movie), Nancy, which I plan to reread sometime soon.

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  5. I like this series and was excited when I saw your review because I thought it was a new book. I've read all the books in the series, but Spencer-Fleming hasn't written a new one since 2013. That's a long time to wait.

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    1. I know, Joan, I was looking at the list of books by Spencer-Fleming when working on this review, and was surprised that it had been so long since she published a book. But I have a few more to get to before I get to that point.

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  6. I've read them all, really enjoyed them and have been waiting forever for the next one.

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    1. Janet, when I was checking out her site, I kept looking for indications that a new one was coming out, but could not find anything.

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  7. I know exactly what you mean, Tracy, about being of two minds about this series. I like it, too, very much. But I agree with you about the attraction sub-plot. Still, the mysteries themselves are nicely-plotted, I think.

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    1. The books ... as far as I have read, are nicely plotted, Margot, and I could hardly put the book down. And those things are important.

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  8. I'm just intrigued about your mention of the Episcopal church, as my husband was brought up in that 'tradition'.

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    1. I don't know how accurate the portrayal here is, but I found it very interesting, Katrina. Not only Clare's interaction with members of the church who had certain expectations of her, but also her decisions that were informed by her beliefs. And of course, the small town dynamics probably make a difference too.

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  9. Tracy, contemporary crime and mystery fiction has such interesting characters, as evident from the Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne twosome. This is another new series for me.

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    1. So true, Prashant. There are many series that I start and enjoy one or two books and never complete. Not because the books are not good, but because there is so much I want to read.

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  10. Great series. Good to see you working your way through them. I thought she was always hitting on hot topics at the time. I still have the last two to read. --Keishon

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  11. Keishon, I am glad I have the next one of this series on hand to read sometime soon. And very glad I returned to the series. This one certainly hit on important themes.

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  12. I feel the same as you and Margot - I have reservations about various aspects, but do find the books entertaining and compelling. Nice that you did a 4th July entry!

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    1. I know, Moira, I read this a while back and decided to hold off on the review until the 4th. I just finished a book set at Mardi Gras, and really wish I had read it closer to Mardi Gras. Although that is harder to plan ahead for, with it being a different time every year. I have the same problem with Chinese New Year.

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  13. I read one of the books and thought it was OK, although I thought the ending was a big overly dramatic and probably not realistic. But I enjoyed the characters.

    I have mixed feelings about reading about a clerical figure. I wasn't brought up in a religious family, and religion doesn't play a part in my life. So I get antsy reading about too much of this.

    But the main character is still a woman with thoughts and feelings that are relatable. And if I had one of these books on a vacation day, I'd read it.

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    1. My family was very religious. We went to church all the time. But by the time I was going to college, I did not participate in organized religion. Yet I find different religions very interesting to read about (in fiction).

      I like the main character in these books because she is strong and out-spoken, but I would agree the books require some suspicion of disbelief.

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  14. My family was made up of two cultures and two religions, but very secular. My parents were very ethical and taught us to believe in people and respect all cultures, countries, nationalities, etc.
    My father was very scientific-minded, read a lot of science books, among other things, and taught us scientific explanations when we were young. He also loved mysteries.
    And he got me to read Sherlock Holmes to both enjoy them and develop a very logical, scientific way of thinking.

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    1. My upbringing was straight Southern Methodist, Kathy. It is great to get view of multiple cultures and religions. At least my parents were not fundamentalists.

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