Title: All Mortal Flesh & I Shall Not Want
Author: Julia Spencer-Fleming
ISBN: 9780312933982 & 9780312933999
Pages: 400 & 410
Release Date: March 4, 2008 & April 28, 2009
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
In the fifth and sixth installments of Julia Spencer-Fleming’s Rev. Clare Fergusson/Russ van Alstyne mystery series, the two beloved main characters continue to deal with their feelings for one another. In All Mortal Flesh, the murder of Russ’s wife not only is tragic, but also leaves Russ and Clare as the two prime suspects. In I Shall Not Want, Russ and Clare’s relationship has still not recovered, but the murder of Mexican laborers requires them to put their differences aside and once again work together to solve a mystery.
I have thoroughly enjoyed the Rev. Clare Fergusson/Russ van Alstyne mysteries (reviews of In the Bleak Midwinter, A Fountain Filled With Blood & Out of the Deep I Cry, and To Darkness and To Death), so I was excited to continue with the series in order to catch up to the seventh volume in the series, the just released One Was a Soldier. Julia Spencer-Fleming is an excellent mystery writer, and she has created vibrant and realistically flawed main characters that the reader will root for.
The mysteries in both of these novels are very personal for Russ - one is the murder of his wife, the other is the murder of a laborer, whose body was found on Russ’s sister’s farm. His family is so dynamic and appealing, so it was wonderful to have an excuse to read about more of them. Of course, Russ’s personal feelings and emotions also play a large role - after all, he and Linda were separated at the time of her murder because he admitted to her that he had feelings for Clare. His guilt overwhelms him in both of these books, and he is unable to treat Clare as the friend she has become because he can’t process his emotions
Clare also has important developments for her character in these books. She is, of course, devastated by the loss of Linda van Alstyne. She completely understands why Russ shuts her out, even if the reader is indignant on her behalf. Instead of focusing on the difficult personal situations at hand, she throws herself to work at St Albans, in the process acquiring a deacon that she doesn’t want, courtesy of the bishop trying to keep a closer eye on her.
As always, the mysteries in these books are excellent. Additionally, with the introduction of a new police officer in I Shall Not Want, Spencer-Fleming is ensuring that she has a lively and endearing cast of characters for readers in future books. I can’t say enough amazing things about this series; if I somehow haven’t convinced you yet, then please pick up these books as soon as possible if you are a fan of mysteries. I can’t begin to describe how much you’re missing out on!