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To Darkness and to Death (A Rev. Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne Mystery, #4)
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To Darkness and to Death (The Rev. Clare Fergusson & Russ Van Alstyne Mysteries #4)

4.06  ·  Rating Details ·  3,388 Ratings  ·  291 Reviews

Saturday, November 14, 5:00 A.M.

In the small Adirondack town of Millers Kill, an old lumberman sits in the dark with his gun across his knees. Not far away, an unemployed logger sleeps off his bender from the night before. The owner of the town's last paper mill tosses in his bed. And a young woman, one of three heirs to the 250,000-acre Great Camp, wakes alone in darknes

Kindle Edition, 332 pages
Published (first published 2005)
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May 03, 2010 Jocelyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Russ: I love you, but we can't do anything about it. I'm married, and you're a priest.

Clare: I know. All we can do is make eyes at each other when we think nobody is looking. It's exciting and frustrating at the same time. But wait! Here we are alone in my living room! Maybe . . . .

Russ: Maybe . . . but no! I can't!

Clare: Whoops! Sorry!

Russ: I still love you, Clare.

Clare: I love you, too.

Russ: OK then. Let's enjoy the limited contact we have while we have it.

Clare: [This relationship is doomed.:
Melissa McShane
Mar 31, 2014 Melissa McShane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, mystery
I'm almost ashamed to admit that there were large sections of this book that I found deeply amusing. The villains did so much scrambling to try to cover up their sins that had that scrambling not resulted in death and battery, it really would have been the stuff of slapstick. I had some trouble with the idea that it all took place over a period of one very long day, just because there was so much activity crammed into it (not even a full 24 hours, even), but when I stopped looking at the timesta ...more
Dec 23, 2013 Carol rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: series
To Darkness and to Death starts out with a bang and more potential than the first three I've read in this series. Somewhere, though, the mystery and plot get bogged down and I found myself just wanting it all to wrap up and get on with it.

Spoiler Alert
Though not truly a spoiler I don't want these comments to ruin the story for anyone. One of the things I've always liked about this series is the romantic tension between the two main characters, the Rev and the Sheriff. It's definitely still here
Mar 03, 2014 Hallie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
That's a three for the story overall, which I liked a lot less than the earlier books in the series, but it's a three with bonus points galore for the author's timing wrt the Clare-and-Russ story arc.

If you haven't read up to this point in the series, you'll be safe with the following paragraph, and I'll pinpoint where there'll be a degree of spoiling for the slow relationship development but nothing more than what you'd get from the blurb. Proper spoilers will be hidden.

The reason I didn't lik
I am not normally a fast reader. However, I am in danger of a speeding ticket in Julia Spencer-Fleming's Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne series. The action at points gets so intense that I can't help but hit soar through the intensity to the other side. Not to say that there is ever quite a lull in the action. Im the culminating action of To Darkness and to Death, I literally felt my pulse quicken. I believe that is a clear indication of a well-written story.

In this latest addition to the seri
Jan 28, 2014 Melissa rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This could have been a good book. I was expecting to enjoy a fun, relatively uncomplicated mystery. What I got was a domestic abuse soap opera.

The moral of the story appears to be "under enough pressure, any nice man can be pushed to beat, kidnap, or kill a woman." The first time the author presented a man beating a woman almost to death as an "accident," an "understandable mistake," it was disgusting and disturbing. The second time, when another "nice, normal" man kidnapped another woman, agai
Nov 15, 2008 Deb rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008-reads
I have enjoyed all of the books in this series, so far, but I found this one to be the most gripping. The overall tone of the book feels a little darker in some ways, and yet some of the plot twists seemed almost farcical. the love affair between Rev. Claire and Russ is becoming more open, too, with a startling declaration at the end of the book. . . .
Mar 06, 2009 Red rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This one was really tight and fast paced. Took place in 24 hours and it helped that I read it in about the same amount of time. Might be the best of the series so far.
Feb 07, 2017 Judy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This fourth book in Spencer-Fleming's series with Clare Ferguson, rector of the Episcopal Church in Millers Kill, N.Y all takes place in one day. Clare is called to help search for missing woman who is believed lost in the large estate owned by her family. Spencer-Fleming interweaves this search with several other subplots that make for exciting reading. And Clare and Russ face the reality of there mutual attraction to each other. I really like this series and Spencer-Fleming's writing.
Oct 26, 2013 Katie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So I started off enjoying this was one less than the others. It's different. It takes place all in one day and there are so many plotlines and point of view characters that I felt like Clare and Russ were barely there--separately or together. And there's so much going on and it's just all about people making the wrong choices and ohhh. That was so hard to read. But I ended up really liking and appreciating it by the end.

(view spoiler)
"To Darkness and to Death"....who writes these titles? How about "Slow Motion Train Wreck" or "Tick-Tock" or "Minute by Minute" or best yet "Countdown"--they would be more descriptive if less poetic.

Julia Spencer-Fleming as she deviated from her previous novels in her third, using the flash back, in her fourth deviates yet again, effortlessly employing a minute by minute countdown and multiple POV thriller. By confining all the action to a single 24 hour period, weaving together the tragic thre
Mar 23, 2011 Tracy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This one was very different than the usual mystery. It takes place in the town of Miller's Kill, NY in the Adirondack mountain area. The largest landowner family, 3 siblings, are selling their land to a global company. Much of the land will be dedicated to preservation by a local conservancy corporation, but it means the long-established family run logging business will have to close, and the long-established family run pulp and paper mill will go have to sell out. Lots of people out of work whi ...more
Aug 25, 2009 Abby rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, mystery
Getting the 24 television show treatment, the entire book takes place in one day. While some of the plot twists are stretching things a bit far, and there are way too many characters to keep track of, Spencer-Fleming kept me on the edge of my chair with the continuing dance of Russ and Clare. I've got a very very bad feeling about their relationship -- something's going to give and give big. I've been immersed in her books for a few weeks now, devouring each one faster than the previous and I ca ...more
Jun 07, 2008 Jen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: brain_candy
The author does it again, but this time she attacks the story over one day. It works pretty well, although there were many characters and events jammed into the one day. I wonder what the Statistical Abstract would say about all the violence in this small Vermont town? Suspension of disbelief aside, Spencer-Fleming has a way of showing how ordinary people can do extraordinarily bad things when put in situations that are harmful to themselves or their way of life. There were characters who were r ...more
Millicent van der Hoeven has disappeared. And, once again, Millers Kill has welcomed me back.

Reverend Clare was trained in survival skills and becomes part of the search and rescue effort to locate Millie. As a former Army helicopter pilot, Clare's experience is necessary. Hopefully, to find Millie alive.

And police chief Russ Van Alstyne has returned to the scene of a most-likely crime. Aagh! There still is that enormous 'elephant in the room': unbearable sexual tension.

I love the suspense Ms. S
Mar 20, 2012 D rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lovers of In the Bleak Midwinter
this was the weakest of the clare fergusson/russ van alstyne series to date, with an overwrought plot, credulity-straining coincidences, and characters who made bafflingly horrible decisions more because it seemed to serve the plot than to make any actual sense.

even so, the rich partnership between clare and russ deepens beautifully and delicately. clare's iconoclasm chafing against the rigid expectations of the episcopal priesthood is an especially rewarding subplot. and just as spencer-fleming
MB (What she read)
Compelling but unpleasant reading due the the plethora of selfish, obsessed, and delusional characters whose actions set off a chain of tragic events like a line of dominos falling.

I no longer have much respect for Clare or Russ; and since there were almost no sympathetic characters in this novel, I did not find this book at all fun to read. I'm starting to feel manipulated as a reader and feel that this author is too gleeful in torturing her characters. (Yes, I know they're not real, but I feel
Oct 15, 2010 Gail rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, library-book
This one is about the chaos desperate people can create, and how it is often connected chaos-to-chaos. It's about environment v. economy, about jobs and companies and relationships and how everything is connected, and we can't ever tell what the tipping point will be for any one person.

I liked this--and yet, it kinda depressed me. Also I didn't think there was enough of Russ and Clare, not necessarily together, but them, as people. I think I've been reading too many mysteries too close together.
Oct 01, 2015 Cyndi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ok, I love this series! I know I shouldn't. I'm completely against adultery. He has a good wife who he still loves, she is a priest who should really be up on the ten commandments. Almost every character has faults that should make me not like them, but, I do. Why?? Must be the absolutely terrific writing. Even though I figured out what was waiting in the end, I couldn't jump into the book and stop it. And, I really wanted to.
Jun 24, 2011 Donna rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book is the first book I have read in the series and it has nothing to recommend itself. Many of the characters start out as normal people and then suddenly they are killing people for flimsy reasons. I can see this happening once, but multiple times? There is not one person with any kind of moral base including the "heroes" who are a church priest and police chief. Also there isn't even a mystery. This book is almost unreadable.
Steve Payne
Mar 04, 2015 Steve Payne rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: did-not-finish
It is rare that I don't finish a book after I start it but in this instance I decided enough is enough half way through. There are way too many implausible things occurring in a very short period of time. There are a lot of characters seemingly unconnected and the two main characters have bit parts. This was my first attempt at reading Julia Spencer-Fleming and unfortunately it will be my last.
Feb 27, 2013 C rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to C by: Mary Ellen
Much better on this one - started off with a kidnapping and once the engine of the train wrecked, all the cars just piled up behind it. Horrible to say, but that was much more fun than the last.

Train wreck 2.0 is the Clare/Russ dynamic. Good lord.
Feb 02, 2011 Peg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The characters continue to develop and the plot had twists and turns that kept me eagerly reading. Mysteries resolved but a bomb dropped on Clare and Russ's relation ship on the last two pages left me feeling What the.........?
Nov 30, 2014 Miriam rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was totally gripping. IT was hard to stop reading, and most everything in it was totally unexpected.
Mar 31, 2015 Jo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries, audiobook
This series gets better and better. On to book 5!
Nov 26, 2016 Angie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Somehow I missed this entry in the series when it came out, which is certainly a shame, because it may be the best in the series, a wonderful combination of plot and characters and an interesting structure that told a complex and suspense-filled story in 24 hours. There is, of course, the continuing series issue of the attraction between combat helicopter pilot veteran/Episcopal priest Clare Ferguson and married police chief Russ Van Alstyne, but in addition this book did a masterful job of expl ...more
Feb 03, 2017 Beth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Clare Fergusson and Russ Van Alstyne reunite in another Millers Kill mystery involving the sale of a large estate and a twisted tale of kidnapping and murder. On the day of the sale of the property, the heiress is kidnapped, prompting the search and rescue team to activate. This sets a series of events in motion during one single day that lead to an explosive finish. Clare and Russ are drawn even closer together and it becomes difficult for both of them to deny their feelings for each other.
Meg Thomas
Jan 31, 2017 Meg Thomas rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library
Too much going on, just too much. Too many new characters introduced at once that I couldn't keep track of who was who. Too many convenient coincidences. The mystery plot here just did not hold water. I feel like with this series either the mystery is strong and the throughline is weak or vice-versa. In this case, I liked watching the Clare-Hugh-Russ scenes play out but just couldn't hang with the mystery plot.
This is the fourth book in this series that I have read, and I must say, it has the wildest plot of perhaps any book I have read. Murder, accidental death, attempted murder, brutal beating, the same person kidnapped by two different people--or is it three?, a domestic terrorist attack, a sick and twisted recluse and more!
Oct 27, 2016 Tracy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The joy of finding a series after a good number have already been written is that you don't have to wait to read the next one, especially when the ending makes you want to know what happened next. My only problem now is to finish the new book that I am listening to so that I can see what Clare and Russ will do next! What a nice problem to have.
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The Narthex: Discussion 1 3 Apr 11, 2012 12:15AM  
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  • Anne Perry's Silent Nights: A Christmas Beginning / A Christmas Grace (Christmas Stories, #5-6)
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Wednesday, September 7

Work-In-Progress Wednesday at my Reader Space. We're up to the fifth part of the second chapter of my eighth book, which has some numerological meaning, I'm sure.
More about Julia Spencer-Fleming...

Other Books in the Series

The Rev. Clare Fergusson & Russ Van Alstyne Mysteries (9 books)
  • In the Bleak Midwinter (Rev. Clare Fergusson & Russ Van Alstyne Mysteries, #1)
  • A Fountain Filled with Blood (Rev. Clare Fergusson & Russ Van Alstyne Mysteries, #2)
  • Out of the Deep I Cry (Rev. Clare Fergusson & Russ Van Alstyne Mysteries, #3)
  • All Mortal Flesh (Rev. Clare Fergusson & Russ Van Alstyne Mysteries, #5)
  • I Shall Not Want (Rev. Clare Fergusson & Russ Van Alstyne Mysteries, #6)
  • One Was a Soldier (Rev. Clare Fergusson & Russ Van Alstyne Mysteries, #7)
  • Through the Evil Days (Rev. Clare Fergusson & Russ Van Alstyne Mysteries, #8)
  • Hid from Our Eyes (Rev. Clare Fergusson & Russ Van Alstyne Mysteries, #9)

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