Hid from Our Eyes

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 07 Apr 2020

Member Reviews

Millers Kill Police Chief Russell Van Alstyne is stunned to learn a young woman’s body had been discovered on the highway median, eerily similar to a case in 1972, where he, a Vietnam veteran, had been the prime suspect. The chief at the time, Jack Liddle, had no other suspects in the 1972 case; however, there was an open case from 1952, where a young woman, dressed in an expensive summer dress, missing her shoes and handbag, had been found dead on the median. 

Reverend Clare Fergusson was anxiously juggling her parish and her newborn son when she was asked to take on an intern, a young transgender woman whose father was not at all happy about her transition. Clare’s position in Millers Kill was two-fold; not only was she clergy, she was married to Police Chief Van Alstyne, and she found herself assisting in solving the case of the unidentified young woman.

I learned, after selecting this book, that it was the ninth in a series, and I had not read books 1 – 8. Hid From Our Eyes reads fairly well as a stand-alone, and I enjoyed the thread of the similar victims found in similar ways that stretched throughout the years. The story alternates between the time periods, and gives a good perspective on the differing styles of police work depending on the era. I liked Clare, though I became impatient with her need to be Superwoman, and appreciated Russell’s loyalty to his department and his town. Overall, this was an interesting mystery that held my interest, and I enjoyed the many twists embedded in the storyline.
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Hid from our eyes is an interesting read. At times I found it ti drag. I just had to keep reading to see how these murders were committed. Lots of twists you'll enjoy finding out about.
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Well worth waiting for this newest in the Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne series! Check out the review here: https://kingdombks.blogspot.com/2020/03/long-awaited-crime-fiction-from-julia.html
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Reading Hid From Our Eyes by Julia Spencer-Flemming was like curling up with an old friend. I've loved this series for years and have waited for this book for 6 years! Welcome back Ms. Spencer-Flemming it's great to have you back!
The story seamlessly  rotates between 3 murders...one in 1952, one in 1972...both unsolved...and a present day case. Three young women abandoned in death on the same spot, on the same road no obvious  cause of death for any of them. Young Russell VanAlstyne was a person of interest for a short time in the 1972 murder and I enjoyed getting a look at the young man that eventually becomes Chief of Police in the town he loves. Russ assumes the murders are connected...they are able to identify the 1972 victim and the current victim. With the help of Chief Jack Liddle, from the previous case, they are able to identify the present day victim and start tracing her movements. It was fun watching them zeroeing in on the perpetrator.  
Along with trying to solve the murder Russ has to battle the town council in the never ending battle to keep the MKPD as the local police force rather than going with the State police.
Claire is trying to adjust to a new baby (yes! The baby is finally here!) She's struggling with juggling her job and a fussy baby on top of trying support Russ both with the case and with the referendum election coming up.
The ending of this book teases at some changes coming up ...I for one am eagerly looking forward to the next one.
I loved this book! Thank you Netgalley for the opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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I received a free ARC of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 


First, if you're waiting for this book to come out and you haven't re-read "One was a Soldier", do that. I wish I had. You will easily fall back into the themes and plot of the book, but a refresher on all the threads that get picked up from the last book will not go amiss. Trust me. 

I forgot how much I loved the writing of these books. The themes of the police work interspersed with the theological ruminations of the churchwork are finely parsed and dovetail nicely. Without spoilers, this book seems a little more focused on Russ and I found myself missing Clare. She has moments alone, where the reader is let into her interior world, but it was a lot of Russ and other characters. Not that I minded, but I think I remembered more Clare perspective? Like I said, since it had been a while, I should have refreshed myself. 

There are several intertwined plots in the book and subplots. At least three romantic relationships in various stages, flashbacks to two different historical times plus the present, interior reflection of Russ, Clare, and at least one other person, and activity at the church, in the community, and in the police department- you won't necessarily need a flowchart, but the book moves quickly and the writing is as compelling as ever. 

I found the main plot and its resolution satisfactory, for the most part. There is an introduction of a secondary character (Joni) whose plot resolution seemed rushed to me. Of course she isn't central enough to get significant attention at the end, but I was surprised by what happened with that story arc and left a little wanting. Of course, she may appear again.

The baby is in this book, but is definitely a plot moppet. Clare and Russ are happy with him and the struggles about caring for a child are real, but the appearances of the baby and what they do with him don't quite feel natural. Of course, they're still learning to be parents and maybe I was still learning to view them as parents. 

Do read the afterward. In it, Spencer-Fleming reveals why it was so long between books. (I didn't realize it had been 6 years.) She's been through a lot and that she could continue at all is good on her. 

I was thrilled to see this book coming out, glad to get an early copy, and I encourage anyone who has enjoyed this series to go ahead and pre-order or buy the book when it comes out. We all need a little pick-me-up right now.
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I have loved all of the other novels in this series. Unfortunately I just liked this one. While the premise of the mystery was good the conclusion seemed rushed and a little out there. 

Also there were too many things going on with our regulars. Claire's blackslide with drugs, the problems with the police dept and the issues with Kevin and Hadley maed it seem that the author was trying to cram so much into one book because we waited 6 years for it. 

That being said I do look forward to the next installment in this series.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley for my honest review.
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Sometimes we all need help, but are afraid to ask for it. This book looks at what happens when we don't ask, and when it is given, whether we want it or not. Russ and Clare now have a baby and Clare is every working mother, struggling to keep all those new moments with her baby, and serving the needs to her parish, and failing at both. Meanwhile Russ finds himself having to step back and come back into being a suspect once again, as the past comes back to haunt hm. Watching these 2 string people having to learn to lean on each other and others, while solving a tight mystery, speaks to Julia's deft skill as a writer. This is a couple we would all love to know and have as friends, and the series continues to expand and find new areas for growth. If you love this series, you'll adore this book. If you're new to it, it will make you want to go back and read the rest!
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It is 1972 and a body has been found. She is dressed in a frilly party dress and to the Millers Kill police force this is a painful reminder of a case almost identical that happened previously 20 years to the day. That case was unsolved and now the man who was just a rookie when the first body was discovered in now a leading role in the case.
Was it a murder or a suicide, as was first assumed. 
This is a stand alone book, but actually is part of a series. I wished that I had read a few of the previous series so that I would understand the characters better. I do thank Netgalley for allowing me an ARC for my honest review.
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A unique mystery taking us from a murder in 1952, of a young woman left in the middle of the road, to a similar one in 1972 and now to the present case. Millers Kill Police Chief Russ Van Alstyne is called to the scene and is reminded of the case in 1972. Russ had just returned from two tours of duty in Vietnam and because he found the body, was considered a suspect. His wife, Reverend Clare Fergusson, is dealing with their new son, her duties at the church and her PTSD from her time in the military. This might sound confusing, to go back and forth between three crimes, but the author effortlessly connects the crimes and solves three murders. I have read and enjoyed this entire series. The main characters, dealing with their past issues, have evolved to the ones they are today. I received an advance review copy at no cost and without obligation for an honest review. (by paytonpuppy)
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This was a story told in three timelines:  1952, 1972, and present day.  It had many narrators and some  appeared in more than one timeline.  In all three cases a young woman is dead and found wearing makeup and  a party dress with no clothes, shoes, or identification; there is no obvious cause of death and, in the present day scenario, it had never been determined if the first two were suicide or murder.

Russ and Clare are the main characters in this story.  Although the investigation of the three dead girls is the central story, there is also a political issue going on where the town of Millers Kill must decide whether to dissolve their local police department and use the State Police system, or come up with the taxes to keep their local law enforcement.

This is the first book I have read in this series and I felt it could easily be a standalone; although I imagine insight would be gained if you already knew the characters and their history.  I enjoyed the book as a mystery, but sometimes got timelines and characters confused.

Thanks to St. Martin's Press through Netgalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
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This is the much anticipated ninth book in the Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne and while it is a new mystery, it also is the continuing story of their relationship. The current murder is a repeat of a murder from the ‘70’s, when Russ was briefly a suspect. Both of these identified murders are almost identical to  an unexplained death from the’50’s, before the area had their own police force. At that time the state police decided not to investigate, preferring to classify it as an accidental death, probably of a prostitute who had been out on the town with one of her customers.

In all three cases there is a young woman found dead in the middle of the road, dressed in a beautiful new party dress. There is no apparent cause of death and forensic science was not sufficient at the time of the first or second murders to determine what might have killed the young woman. Russ treats it as a murder, drawing parallels between this and the second case, while trying to determine cause. The former chief of police who investigated the ‘50’s murder has moved back to town and joins Russ in trying to solve this mystery.

The mystery is well plotted and moves at a good pace, with the book pulling you back into it if you put it down for any length of time. While I identified the murderer early on in the book, I did not know the motive and remained in the dark about it until almost the end of the book. I was hard to put the book down, as I found myself wanting to read “just one more chapter” on a regular basis.

As is the case in other Spencer-Fleming novels, there are strong storylines which occur between Clare and Russ as well as several other secondary characters. Russ and Clare’s relationship has continued to develop and change, and their storyline includes some of the pitfalls that have developed as a result of their marriage. There is also the bid by some of the town’s politicians to dissolve the police department and contract with the state to provide services in an attempt to save money. In addition, there is some attention given to the relationship that developed then crashed between Hadley and Flynn.

All the secondary characters are well developed as is the atmosphere of the small town of Miller’s Kill. While the murder is complete within this novel, the reader will likely miss some of the nuances of the book if they have not read the previous novels. This series is definitely one I would recommend readers to begin with the first novel and read in order.

My only objection is the very obvious cliffhangers that are part of Russ and Clare’s lives as well as Hadley and Flynn’s. While there is some indication that there is also a storyline that will continue between Russ’s mother and the former Chief of Police, it is not as obvious and not so much of a cliffhanger as a suggestion. I personally dislike this type of ending where the reader must get the next book in the series in order to know if and how things “work out”.

That said, there was a long wait between the 8th book in the series, and this one did not disappoint. I want to thank St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for providing me with an Advanced Digital Reader copy in exchange for an honest review. I recommend this book to anyone who likes a good mystery and in spite of my frustration over the cliffhangers, I will be looking forward to the next book in the series.
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I received an ARC of this book from Netgalley. The review and comments are my opinion.
Three identical murders spanning over 20 years has the current Sheriff Russ Van Alstyne convinced they are connected, but in reality it doesn’t seem possible. The author does a great job of weaving the years together by telling the story through the eyes of each of the three sheriffs that investigated each case. One in 1952, one in 1972 and now in present day. A good stand alone novel that I was not aware that it was a long awaited continuation of prior books. After a six year hiatus the author reunites Russ Van Alstyne and his wife, The Reverend Clare Ferguson , an Episcopal minister to solve the murders. There are other stories interwoven throughout the book. Any of which could make another book quite interesting. Hopefully the author will treat us fans to another book with Russ and Clare soon.
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This is the first book in this series that I have read. I have already purchased the first book to go back and understand who the characters ended up where they are now.

Even though it is ninth entry, it can be read-alone and you won’t miss any of the action due to lack of understanding. The author deftly brings in elements from prior books without giving anything away that would spoil reading those books.

The book is told in three time periods: 1952, 1972 and present day. In each of these times, there is an identical murder victim found. In each case, there doesn’t seem to be evidence and it baffles those who are investigating the murders. The first two murders have stood as cold cases for decades.

The three periods are brought together by a hand-off of responsibility for keeping the peace in the area. The current Sheriff is Russ Van Alstyne who was a suspect in the second murder.

He is determined to investigate and also solve the murder in which he was a suspect. His wife, Reverend Clare Fergusson assists him.

Clare is also trying to juggle her work and her need to spend time with her baby. She is fighting her addictions and is having a hard time with the pressure of work, home life and, simply life in general.

The whodunnit was really interesting and because of this book, I will be reading the whole series and if the author writes another one, I will definitely be reading that one as well. As there is a bit of cliff-hanger, I am in hopes that there will be a number 10 in the series.

I was provided a digital advance reader copy of this book by the publisher via Netgalley.
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I liked this book, and can't ever imagine not liking one with the wonderful characters, Clare Fergusson and Russ Van Alstyne. I did feel a little let down, as after such a long wait, I was expecting more. Some of the threads that were carried over felt kind of anticlimactic to me, and it seemed that there was so much going wrong for Clare and Russ in this one. I just wanted some ray of hope that something would go their way! I didn't like the way Clare gave in to her struggle with prescription drugs at all, and didn't like where Russ' career path seemed to be headed. The magic between these two didn't seem to turn up in this book. I really enjoyed being back in Miller's Kill with Clare and Russ and the other great characters of the series, and I liked the mystery storyline, but I hope the next installment will come sooner this time and contain the magic that is normally Clare and Russ together.
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This is a very well told story with a lot of excitement and clever details. The characters and locales are interesting.

Chapters go back and forth between August 1952, August 1972, and Present Time. At each date, a woman's body is found on Route 137, a country road in Millers Kill. In each case, the woman was dressed in a party dress, and they couldn't figure out what killed her. In Harry McNeil was chief of Police in 1952, and they never found out the name of the deceased. They found the dress came from a fancy store in New York City. Jack Liddle was a young policeman. In 1972, the Chief of Police was Jack Liddle, and the prime suspect was Russ Van Alstine, freshly back from the Vietnam War. However, Jack recognizes that Russ isn't a ruthless killer and mentored him. Jack also greatly respects Margy, Russ's mother. Jack takes Russ to a local commune, where they show pictures of the woman and she is identified.

In present time, Russ Van Alstine is Chief of Police and there is about to be a referendum to replace the local police department with the State Police to save money. There is one policewoman in the Millers Kill force, Hadley, who has suffered some harrassment. Her ex husband sent tapes of her doing sex movies in her younger life. She used to partner with Kevin Flynn, who had left to go to Syracuse just after he helped Hadley get her children back from her divorced husband who was trying to take them away. Then, the ex sues Hadley and the Department for assault and false arrest.

Rev Clare and Russ have just had a new baby. Clare gets a new intern, who is transgender, Joni Langevoort. Her family has an Adirondak "cottage" as well as a new Lake George house. Her father is getting ready to retire from the head of his prestigious NYC company, and the new head of the company will take over the "cottage". Meanwhile, the Langevoorts volunteer to help fund raise to keep the police department and invite Claire and Russ to a big dinner when they announce the new company president.

The police really want to solve the case of the woman before the referendum on shutting them down. They gradually make some progress - they interview folks at the fair, there is new science to show how the woman died, and a lot of legwork allows them to identify the girl and who might have been with her. There is another death which surprisingly gives more clues about the girl. It gets very exciting as the referendum is almost on them, and the pieces of the puzzle come together.
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Three nearly identical murders of young women spanning over 50 years are at the heart of this mystery. In 1952, Millers Kill Police Chief Harry McNeil finds an unidentified woman in a party dress dead with no obvious cause of death. In 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. 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. And in the 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. Budget shortfalls are forcing the town to vote whether to dissolve the Millers Kill police department so the pressure is on for Russ and his team to solve the murder and prove their worth.

Meanwhile, Russ and his wife Reverand Clare Fergusson are also dealing with being parents to 4-month old Ethan and Clare has additional temptations to thwart her newly found sobriety from alcohol and drugs. When Clare gets an unconventional intern named Jodi to help at St. Alban's Church, this provides a way into the powerful Langevoort banking family and the secrets they hold.

This was a long-awaited return to Clare and Russ' world with a few dangling plot threads left at the end that leave us wanting more soon.

I received an eARC from Netgalley and St. Martin's Press with no requirements for a review. I volunarily read this book and provided this review.
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Three young women dressed in party attire are discovered decades apart.  What is going on?

This is the ninth in a series, although the prior one was published some seven years ago.  

If you want a tight police procedural, this isn’t it.  The crimes are almost secondary to the  lives of Police Chief Russ van Alstyne, his wife, Reverend Clara Fergusson and ancillary characters who are members of the police department, friends, or acquaintances.  The story bounces among the three time frames of the deaths; 1952, 1972, and “present day”. 

I had some difficulty in the beginning getting into this story; did we really need an entire chapter on Clara giving birth?  And, while I did think the motive behind the killings was a bit of a stretch, I eventually found the book engrossing and well written.  The author does a good job of recreating the flavor of small town upstate New York resort areas (or any resort area) that have to balance the reality of the life of  everyday locals with the needs of well to do summer people.

I did not read the prior books in this series.  Although I liked this one, I have no desire to go back and read the prior eight.
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I didn't realize there were other books in this series when I picked it up. I think it works as a stand alone, however, I felt like I was missing some nuances. This book features killings that span decades. I enjoyed the characters. I liked the honesty of Clare struggling with motherhood. There was a lot to absorb. I read a lot of books in the genre so I was pleasantly surprised to find a fresh story. 
While portions felt a bit farfetched, they still managed to take me by surprise. They worked for the plot. This is a well written book and I definitely will read this author again.
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It’s been 6 years since the last book in this series.  But the characters are so vivid, my memories of them came right back to me. What a treat to finally be re-connected with Russ and Clare.  They are now the parents of a four month old.  Claire not only has the normal first time mother’s angst, but is also worried that her drinking during the first trimester of her pregnancy might have caused Ethan to have fetal alcohol syndrome.   

Meanwhile, Russ is dealing with the murder of a young woman.  What makes the murder unique is that it mirrors ones committed in 1952 and 1972, when Russ, just back from Vietnam, was himself considered a suspect.  This also gives us a window not just into Russ’s younger days and how he ended up in the police force, but also his mom’s, Margie’s, background.  

I’ve been reading several new releases to police procedural series in a row.  It’s made me realize what a talent it is to create characters that seem real.  It’s more than just giving us the facts about someone.  It’s a certain “je ne sais quoi” that transforms the written word into a flesh and blood character.  Spencer-Fleming has it in spades. Her writing style reminds me of Louise Penny - in depth plot lines that require intense concentration so nothing is missed.   We are bounced between 1952, 1972 and the present day and hear from the police chief in charge for each period, in addition to hearing from Clare in the present day.

This is a very enjoyable story. I never saw that ending coming.  And no, it’s not believable, but I’m willing to overlook that as these books are as much about the personal lives of the characters as the mystery.  Also, there are three cliffhangers at the end of the book, by my count, so I can only hope this means we have another book in the series to look forward to reading  

My thanks to netgalley and St. Martin’s Press for an advance copy of this book.
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I didn’t realize this book was part of a series until I’d already started reading it, I imagine much more of it would have made sense had I read the other books first as this one is pretty far in. It was still enjoyable as a stand-alone, but there’s a lot of history and references to previous events that I had to kind of just roll past. Murder told across the decades, there are 3 different cases, from 1952 to 1972 and then present day, all women victims, all dressed in finery, missing their shoes and purses and dumped in the middle of nowhere with no visible sign or cause of death. The story is told in a tri-timeline style, with each Chief of Police providing insight into their portion of the case. The characters are likeable, real and raw, with modern day problems and life changing critical decisions to be made. I thought the plot, while at times a little hard to follow because of the multiple timelines, was excellently tied together and enjoyably morbid. This was a great, quick read.
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