In the High Peaks

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Crime and Mayhem in the Adirondacks

Suffocated by this horrendously hot and humid weather, I need a comfort read. I'm still enjoying The Art Forger to the hilt--don't miss it! But I've been longing to read a novel in one of my favorite crime series.

And what do I have waiting on my Nook, but the third novel in Julia Spencer-Fleming's Clare Fergusson and Russ Van Alstyne crime series, Out of the Deep I Cry, an Agatha winner. Gosh, I must've bought it months and months ago. I've only read the first two novels in this series, but I know Clare and Russ like they are my neighbors. I think that the characterizations of the two primary characters and their interpersonal chemistry are so superbly crafted that they are the elements that make this series. I like Clare and Russ so much--it's a joy to dig into another of their adventures. Clare, a former Army helicopter pilot turned Episcopal priest, and Russ, chief of the Millers Kill Police Dept. are not only a dynamic duo, but a love match well worth watching. In this novel, Russ is still married and loyal to his wife, though he loves Clare as she love him. They're extremely careful and hold themselves back to an irritating extent, but time will tell.

Spencer-Fleming declares that the series is set in the Adirondacks, but the abundance of farmers in the fictitious Millers Kill has had me scratching my head. I'm sure the author knows her setting, but I don't know it. It seems that it may be in the area of the Great Sacandaga Lake region. Yet all I know is, I live in the south-central Adirondacks and nobody farms successfully around here, although interestingly enough, they managed to in eras past. The soil is pitifully poor. Livestock raising is possible, but crops? A labor of blood, sweat, and tears, and lots of hard, grueling labor. I shudder to think.

Spencer-Fleming is an excellent writer, in my opinion, and a visit to her website is worth the effort! Lots of interviews with crime writers and other top-notch content.

Do you know if Julia Spencer-Fleming's series is available in the UK? Please check it out, especially her debut In the Bleak Midwinter, which I love so much I must read it again. I need it for my Christmas Books Collection.


  1. I haven't seen these books in any book shop in the UK and my library sevice (I'm in Devon in the UK) only has *one*. It's book 2, A Fountain Filled with Blood, which I'm about halfway through. I got book 1 from AM and have just ordered books 3 and 4. I love the series to bits. We were in the Adirondacks in 1996 and fell in love with the area. Stunningly beautiful.

    I noticed in your comment on Danielle's blog that you mentioned reading Adirondack non-fiction at the moment. I hope you don't mind me asking if you have any recommendations?

  2. Cath,
    I'm thrilled to have discovered your blog! And I'm so delighted to find another fan of this series.

    I'm so amazed that you traveled to the Adirondacks! We usually don't attract many visitors from the UK. That makes me intensely curious. What drew you to the mountains here? And where did you visit? I'm so fascinated. And I'm so happy that you had a splendid trip.

    I do have recommendations, so let me put my thinking cap on and get back to you. I will heartily, totally recommend one classic Adirondack memoir by Anne LaBastille. The title is Woodswoman: Living Alone in the Adirondack Wilderness. I loved, loved this book. LaBastille is first and foremost an exquisite writer, and she writes of her adventure carving out a year-round life in total wilderness, building her own cabin, etc.
    A very, very exquisite adventure book. Worth waiting for from overseas, because I'm not at all sure you'll find it in the UK.

    I will have more recommendations! We should keep in touch, for sure!


  3. Hi Judith! It was our first trip to the USA in 1996. We have friends in Pittsburgh who we stayed with for a couple of days and then we went with them to Niagara Falls. We left them then, they went home, and we continued on across New York state and ended up staying overnight in a skiing lodge somewhere in the Adirondacks. Rather stupidly we hadn't booked anywhere thinking we could just find somewhere easily. It wasn't, but we struck lucky and found this small place which was gorgeous. Wish I could remember where it was. I'll look for my notes. It was run by a Norwegian and we had a lovely meal there, chatting with him and a guy at the bar who was a farmer and wanted to talk about all kinds of things. From there we travelled on to Fort Ticonderoga and then on into Vermont, New Hampshire, saw a bit of Mass. and Conn. and then swung back on ourselves and came home through Albany as I wanted to visit an embroidery shop there. From there we must've picked up route 88 and somehow ended up in Watkins Glen, which we loved and spent a couple of nights at, driving around Seneca Lake etc. From there we headed back to Pittsburgh, a trip of about 12 days I think. Absolutely wonderful. Our other two trips to the US have been further south in the Blue Ridge mtns, Tennessee, Kentucky, and then to Ohio to visit other friends. But I would so love to go back to NY state and go further north to see the Adirondack Park. Also long to visit Maine. One day perhaps.

    I ordered the Anne LeBastille book... you were right, not easy to find but Amazon Marketplace UK had it from The Book Depository so it's on the way. I see it's the first of several. I just finished book 2 of the Russ and Clare books. Loved it. If you do think of any more let me know, from anywhere in the US to be honest, as I'm doing a little personal challenge of reading my way around all of the American states. Maybe not such a little challenge. LOL!

    You're a teacher! How wonderful. I have two grandchildren, aged 6 and 13 (cousins not brother and sister) and as a family of readers we're all keen they should love books... and they both do. I swap books with my 13 year old grand-daughter and it's *so* wonderful. My grandson is learning to read now and luckily he get's it and loves it. Roald Dahl is his favourite author. There's nothing better than watching children learn to read and love books, as I'm sure you know.

  4. My library in Fife doesn't have any of her books - shame.

  5. I am glad you reminded me of this series. I have only read book 1 in the series and it was very good. I have book 2 and some of the later ones. Got to get back to it.