A murder mystery for your dock reading
“Hid From Our Eyes” (Minotaur Books, 2020) is Julia Spencer-Fleming’s ninth mystery set in the fictional village of Millers Kill, a place where, she writes, “poor farms and Saratoga money and the mountains all come together.” When police chief Russ Van Alstyne is called to a back road to examine the body of a young woman, he suspects a serial killer. Two unsolved murders, in 1952 and 1972, were horribly similar.
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Spencer-Fleming is a pro and goes back and forth in time as the police chiefs of Millers Kill follow clues. All the murders happened in August, when the Washington County fair was in full swing, so a murderer could easily hide in the crowd. But more compelling than the murders—they will get solved after all—are the characters in Millers Kill. I especially enjoyed Clare Fergusson, married to Russ. A former soldier, Clare is now an Episcopal priest with a baby. She’s juggling the stress of new motherhood with her work at church and struggling to stay away from alcohol and opioids. She convinces Russ that he needs to go with her to a party at a big estate, to assure the summer people that their community is safe. Uncomfortable in dress clothes, Russ meets the owner of the mansion.
“Langevoort had the kind of firm handshake that was just shy of aggressive, and was the sort of hail-fellow-well-met rich guy that set Russ’s teeth on edge. It was probably reverse snobbery, he admitted, but he almost preferred the summer residents who clearly viewed him and the rest of the force as lackeys—an armed version of the waiters circulating throughout the house.”
Perhaps I shouldn’t have jumped into a mystery series at book nine, but I didn’t feel like a stranger. Even with its high murder rate, Millers Kill is a welcoming place.
— Betsy Kepes