Mystery Authors You May Have Missed
Julia Spencer-Fleming

Photo of Julia Spencer-Fleming

Bestselling author Julia Spencer-Fleming has won numerous awards. Her first novel, In the Bleak Midwinter, won more major mystery awards than any other debut mystery novel. Born at Plattsburgh Air Force Base, Spencer-Fleming spent most of her childhood on the move as an army brat. She studied acting and history at Ithaca College in New York, and received her J.D. from the University of Maine School of Law. While working at a Portland law firm, she began her family of three children, and her first novel. Spencer-Fleming now lives in a 190-year-old Maine farmhouse with her husband, children, and two dogs. She writes a regular column for Crimespree Magazine called "Spencer-Fleming for Hire."

What she writes: Spencer-Fleming has written seven books in the Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne series. The series takes place in Millers Kill, New York, a small town in the Adirondacks. When she first came up with the idea of making her female protagonist an Episcopalian priest, she knew she wanted her to be able to fight off criminals in action-packed plots, so she made her a former military helicopter pilot. Fergusson’s compassion and sense of responsibility towards her community cause her to get involved in solving crimes, while her survival and military training give her confidence in dangerous situations. Although she and the Chief of Police, Russ Van Alstyne, often work together, Fergusson also goes her own way, sometimes in direct defiance of police orders. But when she and the married Van Alstyne fall for each other, she’s not so sure of her next move.

Spencer-Fleming says she likes the mystery genre’s ability to tackle social issues within an exciting read, and she likes the way series books allow characters to grow and change.


List of works
Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne series
  In the Bleak Midwinter (2002) -- CD All Mortal Flesh (2006) -- CD
  A Fountain Filled with Blood (2003) -- CD I Shall Not Want (2008) -- CD
  Out of the Deep I Cry (2004) -- CD One Was a Soldier (2010)
  To Darkness and To Death (2005) -- CD  


In the Bleak Midwinter: 2003 Anthony, Agatha, Dilys, Macavity, and Barry Awards. 2001 St. Martin’s Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery. Nominated for 2002 Gumshoe Award.

A Fountain Filled with Blood: Barry Award nomination.

Out of the Deep I Cry: 2005 Edgar Award Finalist.

All Mortal Flesh: Nero Wolfe and Gumshoe Awards. Short-listed for the Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity Awards for Best Novel.

What the critics say
"The latest entry in Spencer-Fleming's intelligently written series puts the relationship between Clare and Russ on a new track while once again broaching some thoughtful questions about religion, relationships, and morality in the modern world." - Booklist
"The author expertly portrays the power of grief, guilt, greed and love and their effect on good people in a story as chilling as the month of March in Millers Kill. A subtle sense of humor further enhances this poignant and provocative mystery." - Publishers Weekly
"Given her seminary training and her army background, it's not surprising that Clare deals with all that comes her way with energy, expertise, sensitivity and humor. Spencer-Fleming has brought alive the people and environs of Millers Kill in another riveting mystery." -Publishers Weekly


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