Q: When is a detective not a detective? A: When she's an Episcopalian priest, as is the case with Clare Ferguson, co-protagonist in Julia Spencer-Fleming's To Darkness and to Death.
Clare Ferguson is the quintessential conflicted heroine: she is in the throes of a religious conflict with her deacon over the issue of gay marriage, and she is recklessly in love with a married man, a police officer, no less. It must be noted that said married man is in love with Clare as well, but it appears that their path will be a rocky one for some time to come. When a wealthy Adirondack landowner goes missing in the unforgiving forest, Clare joins the search party. Nothing is quite as it seems at the mountain mansion of Haudenosaunee, however there's the estranged (and more than a little strange) brother whose predilection for fire-starting may have fueled a generation-old disaster; the lifelong woodsman about to be unceremoniously put out of business; and the woodsman's daughter, an unrepentant tree-hugger at sixes and sevens with her father. Several people will die, and at least one or two will be major surprises to the reader. If you admire atmospheric prose, if you appreciate a good story with clever twists and if you yearn for a dash of (unrequited) romance in your mysteries, To Darkness and to Death should be right up your alley.