I Shall Not Want: A Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne Mystery
by Julia Spencer-Fleming
Review by Harriet Klausner
St. Martin's Minotaur Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780312334871
Date: 10 June 2008 List Price $24.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
In Miller's Kill, New York, Episcopal priest Clare Fergusson and Police Chief Russ Van Alstyne remain in shock over the murder of his wife Lindy (see All Mortal Flesh) soon after he told her he loved someone else. Filled with guilt although neither meant to hurt Lindy or for their attraction to happen and out of respect for her, Clare and Russ go out of their way to avoid one another although their attraction for one another is stronger than ever.
However, Russ has no time to grieve when he learns an unidentified vigilante unit attacked a van loaded with Mexican migrant farm workers. Because of the sensitivities of immigrants who do not trust law enforcement to protect them in this time of anti foreign fervor, Russ asks Clare to accompany him when he interviews the workers. He believes that her being a woman and a minister will get some of the migrant workers to speak to them; whereas he doubts any will talk to him alone. However, the ugly incident they jointly investigate turns nastier as more Latinos are murdered. The cop and the preacher struggle to prevent a war on foreigners though they feel they may be too late as passions have already exploded with a vigilante group stalking and killing the migrant workers among other deeds.
Though the death of Lindy occurred in the previous tale All Mortal Flesh, her homicide still rightfully haunts her spouse and the woman he loves who reciprocates his deepest feelings. Both Russ and Clare are overwhelmed with guilt and even remorse though they logically know they went out of their way to avoid hurting Lindy. Thus their personal relationship has spun further apart than ever until he puts aside his penitence to obtain her assistance on his latest case as he desperately needs her to make any progress.
The support cast is as powerful as one finds in a continuing mystery series because Julia Spencer-Fleming enables the readers to place real faces on migrant workers and to a lesser degree those who want the immigrants removed from the country. The complicated life style of the farm workers comes across as insightful as the families seek work together if they are not already separated but settle for what they can get. In fact the hero's sister and her husband employ some immigrants on their dairy farm. The townsfolk including his family are divided over the issue. Deputy police chief Lyle Macauley is excellent in this tale as the relationship with Russ went from supportive and admired to estranged over Lindy. Additionally the introduction of new police officer Hadley Knox, a single mom, adds new depth as she struggles to balance on the job training with raising her children.
The investigation is over the top with improbable spins and twists, but fans of the series will not care as no one will find Julia Spencer-Fleming's latest upstate New York police procedural wanting due to the complex emotional relationship of the lead couple; struggling with love, guilt and feelings of betrayal. All this occurs in a very timely thriller as immigrants are treated like vampires in Transylvania with peasants trying to run them out of town.