This series is so great that I want everyone to know about it. There are 4 books in the series out now and another on the way in October. If you love Margaret Maron, Earlene Fowler, Elizabeth George, Elizabeth Peters or any great mystery, buy this.
The setting is small-town upstate New York in the Adirondacks somewhere between Albany and Saratoga. Everyone knows everyone and their business in a burg of only 8,000 souls. The heroine is an novice Episcopalian priest from Virginia and DC in her first posting, Clare Fergusson and our hero, Russ VanAlstyne, is the Chief of Police.
Don't be put off by the religious bent of Clare. She is devoutly liberal and free-thinking much to her Bishop's dismay and a champion of the downtrodden. Unfortunately, she is completely out of her element in Millers Kill, NY. (Kill is a Dutch derivative meaning a stream that runs into a river, in this case, Millers Kill runs into the Hudson.)
In Clare's capacity as priest, she is thrown into murder and mayhem and meets Russ VanAlstyne, the "older-by-14 years" Chief of Police and agnostic. Despite the philosophical differences, Clare and Russ find they are kindred spirits in having shared careers in the Army; Russ in Vietnam, Clare in Desert Storm and Africa and they fall passionately in love. There's only one catch - of course - he's married; and not even that unhappily.
This dynamic continues throughout the series and I'm dying to know how this will evolve. Clare is consumed with guilt and bound and determined to keep her vow of celibacy until she is married and Russ is just as determined to keep his vows of marriage. And then there is the religious angle - Clare is the eternal optimist who looks for the good in everyone and every situation and that just plays so well off Russ, the archetype of jaded, world-weary and cynical cop who can't imagine a god who would let such horrible things happen to his creation.
The topics are all meaty: homosexuality, illegitimacy and abandoned babies, loggers and timber "harvesting" and development vs. environmentalists all set agaist the backdrop of the general deshabile and poverty that befalls an former industrial boomtown struggling to find its way in today's economy by catering to tourists.
Add to the mix a clever, original plot that really MOVES, a cast of interesting characters that recur in all books in the series and you have a SUPERB night of reading curled up in your comfiest favorite place! I couldn't put any of these books down and I can't wait for the next one in October.
I won't go into the storyline because others have done. I urge you to buy this book and give yourself a GREAT treat - a mystery series as good as this is very rare and believe me: I've read 'em all!