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Hid from Our Eyes

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Hid from Our Eyes is the 9th mystery in the Clare Fergusson & Russ Van Alstyne series by Julia Spencer-Fleming. Released 7th April 2020 by Macmillan on their Minotaur imprint, it's 352 pages and available in hardcover, paperback, audio, and ebook formats.

Although it's been 6+ years since the 8th book in the series, it wasn't a problem for me to keep the characters or their relationships straight. The author provides the necessary backstory in the narrative, so new readers won't need a dramatis personae list to keep them sorted either. It would work moderately well as a standalone. What might be slightly more problematic is the three interwoven timelines: 1952, 1972, and the modern day. The characters are overlapping, and one of the chief suspects from the murder in 1972 is a young Russ Van Alstyne, now chief of police. The delineation isn't always clear since some of the same characters appear in more than one timeline. The similarities in the (very) cold case murders and the modern day are well done and the writing in general is very capable and engaging.

Much of the book is concerned with the Reverend Clare, husband Russ, their infant son, and their day to day struggle to manage professional and family life. Clare is a recovering alcoholic and that is an important theme in the book also. The author has a deft touch with suspense and characterization and overall the book is quite good. There are some dark themes which are potentially triggering (substance abuse, fetal alchohol syndrome, depression, trauma). The language is rough(ish) with multiple usage of damn, hell, and similar and a couple of "f-bombs" used in context.

Four stars. Well written and engaging. Likely moreso for prior fans of the series who have built up a relationship with the characters.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes
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So very happy to read this book. This series is one of my most favorite and I so enjoy catching up with Rev. Claire and Russ. Its just like see old friends again. Great read.
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Hid from Our Eyes by Julia Spencer-Fleming is ninth in the Reverend Clare Fergusson and Police Chief Russ Van Alstyne series. This novel works well as a standalone but I would enjoy reading the previous ones. The mystery is set in three separate time periods. In 1952, the body of a young woman is found on a deserted country road, dressed in an expensive dress but without anything to identify her. The cause of death remained a mystery and the culprit was never found. In 1972, another unidentified young woman suffers the same fate and the crime is never solved. Now, in the present day, a third body is found in the same circumstances and it is up to Chief Van Alstyne and his police force to solve this crime and hopefully in the process, solve the other two murders. This is  a suspenseful police procedural set over a period of fifty plus years. The only problem with the ending is an attempt by the author to set the scene for the next novel but I highly recommend Hid from Our Eyes. Thank you to St. Martin’s Press and Net Galley for the e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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This book was a much anticipated 9th in the Claire Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne mystery series, and did not disappoint.

Russ and Claire are now married and have an infant boy who takes up much of Claire's time, along with her duties as an Episcopal priest.

The story focuses on three unsolved mysteries, set in 1952, 1972, and present day. Three attractive young women, decades apart, are found dead on the side of the road with no identification. Russ, the Chief of Police, is under pressure to solve the killing of the present day victim.

The timelines and characters are switched back and forth which was somewhat confusing to me at times.

Who could have done the murder? Were the three murders connected?
Russ has help from the former chief of police. When forensic testing comes back on the murdered woman, Russ gets a break and soon figures things out.
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His From Our Eyes is the ninth novel in a series from Author  Julia Spencer-Fleming. I would describe this as a hybrid novel. A cross between a cozy mystery and a police procedural. Having just had a new baby, Clare Ferguson returns to her work in the church and her husband, Chief of police, Russ Van Alstyne continues to head the small and financially challenged police department at Miller’s Kill. This small department is thrown for a loop when the body of a young, unidentified woman is found on a rural road. With fancy clothes, fresh makeup and an unknown cause of death, the girl bear an eerie resemblance to 2 prior unsolved deaths. One in 1952, another in 1972. Both cases the women were dumped on the same road, never identified and their cause of death remains unknown. With three apparent homicides left unsolved, Russ is under a lot of pressure to solve these unusual deaths as the town council weighs throwing out the MKPD completely and using the State Police instead. Clare stuck in the middle hopes to use her position as a religious influencer in the community to help her husband in any way she can. Having not read the previous 8 novels I certainly may have some deficits of character development. I do believe by and large;however, that this story can stand alone. This isn’t a fast paced, heart pounder. It is more of a slow burn with the story unfolding methodically and slowly over 300 plus pages. If you live by the seat of your pants this may not appeal to you. This story has its strengths in the character stories and the ongoing development of the characters. We do get a setup for a storyline at the end of this novel. Review posted to Amazon, Goodreads, Facebook, and LibraryThing.
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There sure were a lot of subplots.  One of the things I like about a mystery series is watching the characters develop, There hasn't been much deepening of characters in this book. I was disappointed.
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This was a wonderful crime novel that spanned a period from 1952 to present day in Millers Kill (what a name for a town). In 1952, Harry McNeil, the police chief visits the crime scene of a woman in a party dress. There is no obvious cause of death.
In 1972 Jack Liddle is now police chief of Millers Kill. Back in 1952, he was a trooper who worked that case. There are a lot of similarities and focus is on Russ van Alstyne, a Vietnam vet, but there’s nothing to tie him to the crime.
Fast forward, Police Chief Russ van Alstyne gets a call that another murder has been killed using the same MO. This puts Russ back under the microscope, and he, along with his policeman and the Rev. Clare Ferguson, want to solve this murder in hopes that it will lead to solving the first two.
This certainly kept my attention. I definitely recommend it for those who enjoy mysteries.
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So happy to see that Julia Spencer-Fleming is back with another installment in her Reverend Clare and Chief Russ mystery series. (Her Afterword explains the sad reasons for the hiatus.) In this story, Russ and the Millers Kill (NY) Police Department are under pressure to solve the mysterious death of a young woman found lying dead on a rural road: perhaps the future of their department will depend upon whether they are successful or not. Strangely it's the third such case on the books--the other two, identical cold cases dating back to 1952 and 1972--and unfortunately Russ was a suspect in the 1972 death and has never really been cleared. Should he head up this new investigation with that cloud hanging over his head? 

Meanwhile Clare is balancing caring for their cranky baby with her parish work while trying to remain sober and drug free so she can continue to nurse. Could the baby have Fetal Alcohol Syndrome? 

The storyline jumps back and forth between the three timelines, making it complicated to keep characters straight at times. There were certain questions I felt they should be considering in the present timeline that never came up and I found that frustrating. But all in all, it was an intriguing mystery and it was great fun spending time with 'old friends,' as these characters have become. They are definitely flawed human beings, which makes them that much more interesting. I'm already looking forward to the next installment in this series. 

I received an arc of this new mystery from the publisher via netGalley in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks!
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Hid From Our Eyes - Julie Spencer-Fleming 

Publisher Description: THE USA TODAY BESTSELLER

New York Times bestseller Julia Spencer-Fleming returns to her beloved Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne mystery series with new crimes that span decades in Hid from Our Eyes.

"New parents Clare Fergusson and police chief Russ Van Alstyne tackle three copycat murders and one testy baby in this riveting addition to an acclaimed series" —People magazine

1952. Millers Kill Police Chief Harry McNeil is called to a crime scene where a woman in a party dress has been murdered with no obvious cause of death.

1972. Millers Kill Police Chief Jack Liddle is called to a murder scene of a woman that's very similar to one he worked as a trooper in the 50s. The only difference is this time, they have a suspect. Young Vietnam War veteran Russ van Alstyne found the body while riding his motorcycle and is quickly pegged as the prime focus of the investigation.

Present-day. Millers Kill Police Chief Russ van Alstyne gets a 911 call that a young woman has been found dead in a party dress, the same MO as the crime he was accused of in the 70s. The pressure is on for Russ to solve the murder before he's removed from the case.

Russ will enlist the help of his police squad and Reverend Clare Fergusson, who is already juggling the tasks of being a new mother to her and Russ's baby and running St. Alban's Church, to finally solve these crimes.

Readers have waited years for this newest book and Julia Spencer-Fleming delivers with the exquisite skill and craftsmanship that have made her such a success. 


My thoughts: I cannot remember when or how I first discovered this beautiful series by Julia Spencer-Fleming, but I am so glad I did those several years ago.  She returns to the series with another great installment that further explore the extremely realistic relationship between Russ and Clare (including all the faults and struggles and strengths of joys of our main characters and the frustration of being new parents and being a working mother).

The characters in this series are ones that just make you like them, make you appreciate them, and make you want to just enjoy a visit with sometime. The world they inhibit and the people that surround them is so well-developed that you feel like you know them and appreciate the small(ish) town feel and interactions. While the main story focuses on Clare and Russ and the investigation they are attempting to resolve that has historical ties to the area and to Russ personally, there are related and separate stories that are well-done and add to the story and big picture versus just happening in the background. Ms. Spencer-Fleming has a way of wrapping in enough facts to make you sure you know exactly who did what and when, yet throws in enough uncertainties and twists and turns to keep you guessing as well.  I'm not sure how that happens or works, but somehow she does it!

As they work through the mystery, there's a lot of personal issues they are working through as well, and there is such a cliffhanger at the end that I'm left with no doubt that we have another book ahead of us in the (hopefully) near future. These are not my normal style of books I would say, although I tend to read just about anything that piques my interest.  That being said, I love the story, the character and world-building, the mystery, and the emotion that Ms. Spencer-Fleming brings to all her books.  I'm so happy that this series has returned and am anxiously awaiting the next book in this series.

Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin's press for the opportunity to review the advance copy!
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This riveting next installment in the long-running Clare Fergusson - Russ Van Alstyne series was worth the wait and kept me guessing till the end. This series will be featured in the 2020 Modern Mrs Darcy Summer Reading Guide, coming May 14.
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Hid From Our Eyes is the ninth installment in the Clare Fergusson and Russ Van Alstyne mystery series. This mystery is three-fold. Three separate dead women found on the highway in a fancy dress with no discernible cause of death. In 1952, the Chief of Police Harry McNeil is certain this was no drug overdose, but it’s out of his jurisdiction. He does what investigating he can along with a young patrolman named Jack Liddle who is also unwilling to write her off. In 1972, Chief of Police Jack Liddle investigates an identical mysterious death and Russ Van Alstyne who found the body is among the suspects.

Now, the third dead woman in similar circumstances makes Chief of Police Van Alstyne certain there is a connection between all three deaths. Of course, it is awkward that he was a suspect in 1972 and never officially cleared, especially as there is a plebiscite on whether or not to close the local police department and let the state police take over.

There is also a lawsuit alleging a local police officer planted drugs on her ex-husband. He sounds a peach and no one would blame her, but she knows she did not do that, but what about the other officer, now working undercover for the state police. Did he do that on her behalf?

Hid From Our Eyes is an excellent mystery. It is absolutely fair. We get the information when Russ gets the information. There are none of those Nero Wolfe moments when a clue arrives and the detective goes “Aha!” and we don’t learn what that was until the narrative explanation in front of all the suspects at the end. In fact, readers were not even inflicted with the long narrative explaining the detective’s inductive reasoning. That is what I call fair!

There was a moment in the 1972 narrative when I thought Chief Liddle missed an obvious clue, but other than that, everyone was smart. This is a smart, fair mystery and the actual solution was unexpected, a fresh solution that I had not imagined. That is all one can ask for.

I also like the sub-plots and how one story percolated in the background that I am certain will be central in the tenth in the series. This was my introduction to this series and I was not confused by starting with the ninth. References to the past were passing and infrequent, so I never felt lost. I am looking forward to the tenth.

I received an e-galley of Hid From Our Eyes from the publisher through NetGalley

Hid From Our Eyes at St. Martin’s Press | Macmillan
Julia Spencer-Fleming on Facebook
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I've decided to set this one aside for now because I just can't connect with the storyline. I think this would be perfect for someone looking for a slower paced story that is rich in detail and character development. Right now with the whole crazy world situation we have going on, I'm leaning towards faster-paced stories. It's definitely a case of reader, not the book! I definitely recommend giving this one a shot if you think it sounds interesting!
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Hid from Our Eyes
A Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne Mystery #9
Julia Spencer-Fleming
Minotaur Books, April 2020
ISBN 978-0-312-60685-5

It seems like years since the last Clare and Russ story because, well, it has been and when I first heard about this one, I was SO excited. I’m not the least bit surprised that Ms. Spencer-Fleming is still at the top of her game.

Three different but very similar cases over a period of many decades have involved three police chiefs but Russ, the current chief, was once accused of the second killing. As this third case ramps up, Russ is under enormous pressure to find the killer before suspicion focuses on him again. Are the three cases really connected in some way or could there be a copycat killer? Who were these young women and why were they targeted or is it possible one or more were, in fact, not murdered?

Russ’s wife, an Episcopal priest and mother of a new baby, has her own issues going on but of course she’s going to help Russ and she brings a lot of intelligence and creative thinking to this case, as she always does. The personal lives of Clare and Russ are given as much weight as the investigation, enough so that I felt like I was seeing old friends again but that didn’t take anything away from the mystery of these three deaths. Leads take them in all directions and I was forced—forced, I tell you!—to stay up late into the night to keep reading. An intriguing plot and great characters make for a story I can heartily recommend but readers new to the series will enjoy it more by starting with the first one.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, April 2020.
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A good fast read. Who couldn’t want to read a who-dunnit that happened in a town called Miller’s Kill? It may be that the town name gives you an idea of a cozy. No one likes a good cozy more than I do but this is more. More elements, more depth to the characters and maybe a deeper plot. I loved reading a  mystery about a crime years ago. Could it be connected? Could it have been people you talk to face to face today? Lots of suspense and the author kept you guessing.

As I said there is more to this story than one might think. I liked the characters. Who would think a female priest could be one of the main characters and a pretty good amateur sleuth? To me this was a plot that didn’t have as many characters involved and sometimes that’s a relief. No figuring out who’s who all the time.

This is Book 9 from a series titled “A Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne Mystery (Fergusson/Van Alstyne Mysteries)”. Ok, ok, the series title  is a little long. Maybe even more than a “little” long. Nonetheless, the read was well worth my time and I think I’ll jump back and read another.
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So I know this is the 9th book in the series, but it's my first. I love the idea of a Reverend and a Chief of police being married. I think they are a great team and I would love to go check out the first 8 books to see what happened in their life before this book. I know they were involved in a scandal and that Clare is an alcoholic. 

This book was really good. 3 murders spaced over 54 years and they all are so similar! Who wouldn't want to read about that? There's also small town politics and a lot of other drama in here that makes for a good read. It breaks into 1952, 1972 and current day but it's very easy to keep up and understand. Of course, there's a cliffhanger involving 2 cops and I'm sure Russ gets involved. Very intriguing!
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Hid From Our Eyes is the story of three young women, all found in the same place, dressed similarly as if going to a party, and with no discernible cause of death.  The twist is that the first murdered woman was found in 1952, the second in 1972, and the third in the present day.  The first death was investigated by Millers Kill Police Chief Harry McNeil with the help of a young officer named Jack Liddle.  By the time of the second death, Jack Liddle is now Police Chief.  In 1972, a recently discharged Vietnam vet named Russ van Alstyne is temporarily a suspect because he is the one to discover the body.  And in present day, Russ is now the Police Chief.  How did all of these young women die, and how do they all tie together?

When I requested this book from NetGalley, I didn't realize that it was #9 in a series.  However, it made no difference whatsoever as Hid From Our Eyes reads perfectly as a stand-alone.  I enjoyed the book thoroughly even though the answer to the mysteries wasn't particularly believable.  It was well-written and well-plotted.  I liked the three timelines.

My thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for the opportunity to read the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Likable characters in a homey town are perfect for this mystery starring a police chief and an Episcopal priest. I have not read the previous 8 books in this series but this reads fine as a stand alone story. Characters are flawed and believable, locale well described and picturesque, and the suspense flows continuously through the novel. Be aware: this novel ends with a cliffhanger that obviously leads to the next installment in this series. Very enjoyable.

Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for the ARC to read and review.
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Hid From Our Eyes is the 9th book in Julia Spencer-Fleming's "The Rev. Clare Fergusson & Russ Van Alstyne Mysteries" series. It's so wonderful to be back with Russ and Clare again.
This novel is based on solving the murders of three young women, twenty years apart. The murders are all very similar. Are they connected in some way?
I loved being back in Millers Kill and revisiting the all too human characters that I have come to know and hold dear.
As always, I was left wanting more.

Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin 's Press/Minotaur Books for an arc of this novel in exchange for my honest review.
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The small town of Millers Kill in the Adirondacks is suffering budget woes, and a vocal minority thinks the solution is dissolving the police force and handing policing to the NY State Patrol. That minority has added the plan to a referendum in November. It's August, and Chief Russ Van Alstyne knows he has a lot to do to gain support and head off disaster for him, his staff, and the community. Politics have never been Russ's strong suit. Added to that stress is a new baby in the house, Ethan. Both he and Clare are having difficulty balancing work and home life, even though they are delighted to have a son that neither thought they would have. Life only gets more complicated when Russ is called to a scene on the highway. A young woman is lying in the middle of the road, deceased, in a party dress with no shoes, hosiery, or identification. There is no indication of what might be the cause of death, and that exactly duplicates two previous unsolved crimes; one in 1952 and one in 1972. A very young Russ Van Alstyne was a suspect in the 1972 crime. Small towns being what they are he knows that people will remember.

There has been a six-year gap since the previous book in the series, Through the Evil Days, due to many personal losses suffered by Ms. Spencer-Fleming. I was delighted to know that another book was coming and to get my hands on an advance copy. I also was concerned that I might have forgotten some facts and characters, but everything came back to me as I read. All the characters from Russ and Clare to Russ's mother, Margy, and the members of the force are so well-written that they have become old friends. I also like the plot device of crimes from the past haunting the present. Not only these three crimes but others play into the unfolding story. However, I did find the jumping back and forth a bit hard to follow, at least in the beginning. I also thought the solution to all the crimes was somewhat rushed and unbelievable. That being said, it was a very good read, and I am looking forward to the next in the series. A number of questions still remain.

Thanks to Netgalley and St. Martin's Minotaur for an advance digital copy. The opinions are my own.
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Hid from our Eyes is the 9th installment of Julia Spencer-Fleming's Fergusson/Van Alstyne Mysteries series.  I didn't realize that this was part of a series until I started it so I felt like something was missing for me connecting with the characters.  The writing is excellent and I wouldn't hesitate to start the series but i would start from the series beginning.  The storyline is interesting however - it features 3 identical murders from different time periods - 1952, 1972 and "present day".  In each case a woman is found dead in a party dress and in all three cases her underwear, shoes, stockings and purse are missing.  I enjoyed the mystery but think I would have enjoyed this book more by not starting with the last of the series.   Thank you Minotaur books and NetGalley for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. 3.5 stars rounded up.
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