If you’re a fan of Julia Spencer-Fleming’s, you’ll be delighted to know that Hid From Our Eyes picks up right where One Was a Soldier left off. Since it’s been awhile I’ll recap: Episcopal priest Clare Fergusson and her husband Russ Van Alstyne have welcomed their first child (read the book to find out the child’s name and sex). Clare is in addiction recovery, and believably – for anyone familiar with addiction – she teeters from sober to wishing she wasn’t. That’s the rich background.
Ever since Nancy Drew met Ned Nickerson, love stories have been a part of crime fiction. Maybe not the main player, but some books have relationships that help define them. Here are some of my favorites.
In the golden age, Patricia Wentworth stands out, as she always foregrounded romance as part of her stories. Unlike some of the other authors I’ll mention, she wrote a series, but the romantic characters didn’t recur or involve the main characters, with one exception: Miss Silver Comes to Stay (1948), where Rietta Cray and Randal March, a former pupil of Miss Silver’s and now a Chief Constable, find slightly late in life love. March is a re-occurring character, and he and Rietta appear in other books, complete with a family to Miss Silver’s doting delight. Love in a Wentworth novel is quiet, intense and somehow dignified.
I am smitten with this series, now four books in. Slight spoiler: Detective Gemma Monroe is planning her wedding to Brody, father of baby Grace. This is more or less background, however, as Gemma deals with a car bombing that takes place in the first chapter. Set during Halloween, this novel is atmospheric and embraces the fear inherent in Halloween, rather than the cute ghostie trick or treating aspect of this now huge holiday. Littlejohn goes back to the root: scary things that go bump in the night. In this case, literally, an explosion.
Duck the Halls, Donna Andrews (2013). Skunks loose in the choir loft a few days before Christmas, a missing boa constrictor – do I need to say more? Donna Andrews at her witty best, which is saying a LOT.
The 12 Clues of Christmas, Rhys Bowen (2012). The body count is high as Lady Georgie hosts a holiday party in tiny Tiddleton-under-Lovey. While Bowen herself denies any resemblance to And Then There Were None, there are really far fewer people in Tiddleton by the end of the book than there were at the beginning – and the deaths are so creative! Delightfully, Bowen includes a guide of English Christmas traditions at the end.