This is the kind of book that I know will have customers coming in and shaking me by the shoulders to either mourn or complain about what happens in it. The only other author who has that effect on readers is Elizabeth George, so it says lots that Julia Spencer-Fleming’s now five book series has the same effect. Her main characters. Claire and Russ, are so fleshed out, so tormented, so genuinely human, that you can’t help but be completely swept up in their lives whether you want to or not. Book five (and I’m not giving anything away) opens with the discovery of Russ’ wife Linda horribly butchered on the floor of their kitchen. Spencer-Fleming’s greatest gift, I think, is in the emotional details of her characters, and in her portrayal of Russ’ grief and Claire’s response to Linda’s death, she doesn’t disappoint. To catch up readers who may not have read the rest of the series, Claire Fergusson is the Episcopal priest in tiny Miller’s Kill, New York, and Russ Van Alstyne is the married police chief. Claire and Russ, while not having an actual affair, have engaged in “an affair of the heart”, and many people in town are aware of their relationship, now including (as of book four) Linda Van Alstyne. She and Russ are recently separated. Spencer-Fleming’s other gift is to take the backdrop provided by these genuinely conflicted characters, as well as Claire’s unusual occupation, and spin a clever and gripping mystery around them. In this book, of course, the mystery part is obvious – who killed Linda?