I Shall Not Want, Julia Spencer-Fleming
Like so many other good books, Julia Spencer-Fleming's came recommended by a Dorothy Dunnett listserv - in this case, the Dunnett/Bujold list. When I finally went to put them on hold at the library, I wasn't surprised to find a waiting list. But when I saw a note in Louise Penny's first book thanking JSF for her encouragement, I decided just to head to Murder by the Book.
Over the next couple of weeks, I read five of the six in the Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne series. And I got caught up in the mysteries, but also in their story, in the development of their relationship - to the point that when I finished the emotional whipsaw of All Mortal Flesh, I thought I might be a bit too caught up in these fictional lives. I decided to wait a bit before reading I Shall Not Want - though I couldn't resist flipping through the book to see how things were between Russ and Clare (and Hugh). Now, with the impending release of One Was a Soldier, I wanted to catch up to be ready for the new book.
It's an outstanding book, maybe my favorite in the series. The over-arching story, about drugs and undocumented workers, is intricate and chilling. The usual cast of characters is there, and there's a great new character in Hadley Knox, Russ's most recent hire. She adds a jolt of energy to the story, with her outsider's perspective, as well as her family complications and her on-the-job learning curve. The Russ/Clare story, as it develops over the months, is compelling and real and deeply affecting. And more than I remember from the other books, this one has some truly LOL moments - the Russ-&Clare-show in the ER, Clare's vestry meeting, the Aztec sing-along.