By Julia Spencer Fleming
Rated 4 Stars
A series of gay bashings, the discovery of PCBs in a local elementary school playground and a brutal murder heat up the Adirondacks town of Millers Kill, N.Y., hotter than the July weather. Clare, rector of St. Alban's Episcopal Church, and the very much married police chief Russ Van Alstyne, who have spent the last six months avoiding each other in hopes of dispelling their mutual attraction, find themselves working together on a perilous murder investigation. With eloquent exposition and natural dialogue, the precisely constructed plot moves effortlessly to its dramatic conclusion. The poignant reflections of Clare and Russ as they examine their own hearts and struggle with their feelings never detract from the crime solving. Amid a host of memorable characters, Clare stands out, whether daring to drive a sports car instead of a safer four-wheel-drive vehicle or donning her vestments to perform the evening service of Compline in an empty church lit with candles.