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Publisher's Summary

Clare Fergusson, St. Alban's new priest, fits like a square peg in the conservative Episcopal parish at Miller's Kill, New York. She is not just a "lady"; she's a tough ex-Army chopper pilot, and nobody's fool. Then a newborn infant left at the church door brings her together with the town's police chief, Russ Van Alstyne, who's also ex-Army and a cynical good shepherd for the stray sheep of his hometown. Their search for the baby's mother quickly leads them into the secrets that shadow Miller's Kill like the ever-present Adirondacks. What they discover is a world of trouble, an attraction to each other--and murder....

©2002 Julia Spencer-Fleming (P)2010 BBC Audio

What listeners say about In the Bleak Midwinter

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Ice Cold Complex Small Town Police Procedural/Mystery

I really enjoyed this icy, wintery first book in a mystery series set in rural small town upstate New York. The characters and interactions and connections are great. The story is a good one, multi-layered and complicated with twists and turns. The contrast between the tough ex-military southern female Episcopal priest and ex-soldier small town chief of police is engaging. I have high hopes for this series. I really hope Audible offers all the books soon.

I do agree with other reviewers about the narration. Some of the voices are not the best--the men are often over the top growling and the girls sound too squeaky and babyish. I will say all of this improves as time progresses. Worth sticking with it.

This may be one of my new favorite mystery series. We will see how book two goes. A great start!

25 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Annoying story, annoying reading

This series had gotten excellent reviews, so i stuck with this book, but it was very heavy slogging, and ultimately, quite disappointing. The plot is ordinary, nothing in the way of surprises. Many characters are so broadly painted as to approach caricatures. What is most annoying, however, is that this is one of those mysteries where a central character repeatedly behaves with unbelievable recklessness and stupidity; this is how the author drives the plot, by getting her priest character into outrageously silly situations, all of which would be resolved by simple phone calls. There is also an apparent massive ignoring of or ignorance of basic police procedure.

As far as the reading goes, the reader consistently overacts, not understanding that the best book narrators under-do rather than over-do. Every character, every line reading, gets pushed, so that listening becomes exhausting. The reader confuses the most acting with the best acting.

8 people found this helpful

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Poor narration ruins a potentially good story

The idea of a female Episcopalean priest working to solve crimes with a rugged small town police chief drew me strongly to this audiobook.

However, the implausible interpretation of the characters put me off so that i could not listen for very long, despite repeated tries. Claire, an ex miitary pilot is much too sweet in spite of her obvious strength. Russ, a rough hewn, but sensitive, police chief is played with the voice of a backwoods recluse. Worst of all is the overly harsh reading of Jeff Burns, an obviously narrow minded lawyer. who, however, is needy of support in his attempt to adopt.

The dissonance between the writing and the reading of this potentially interesting book has brought me to the point that I am returning the book.

6 people found this helpful

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R

Great book, but the narrator didn't work for me. Clare sounded like she was pulled out of Gone With the Wind and Russ sounded like John Wayne. Just didn't jive with the characters and was distracting. The characters and story and mystery are superb though!

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

An excellent series for adult readers

What impresses me about this series is the adult narrative. The protagonists handle problems as adults. Which leads to the story being compelling without childish expectations. Relationships, competing needs, even disagreements are dealt with a mature manner. Perfection does not rest in either protagonist, so compromise forms the backbone of the characters stories. With top notch character development, descriptive passages that will make you wish for a warm blanket, ethical and moral quandries that create just as much tension as the mysteries, this book provides hours of enjoyment. I look forward to purchasing the rest of the published series when Audible adds it to the available selection.

11 people found this helpful

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Terrible

This is a completely unconvincing story. The murder which occurs in this first novel is totally inconceivable. Does anyone honestly believe that a family would murder a girl who had gotten pregnant by their son simply because it might interfere with his military career? Since when does an out of wedlock marriage come as such a surprise to the military? Come on!

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

unique mystery

I like British "cozies" and dislike American "edge of seat" violent action mysteries. This was somewhere in between, falling closer to the "cozy." The ex-military, Epicopalian priest character combined with her relationship with a married, eccentric small town police chief makes this a unique listen. I think there is enough action (especailly in the subsequent installments in the series) to satisfy action listeners.

I listened to all three installments of the series carried by Audible - This was my favoirte (closest to a "cozy," least "edge of seat" action) - but all were most enjoyable. I hope others are added to the Audible catalogue soon.

7 people found this helpful

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good Christian mystery

great Christian mystery with a lot of twists and turns. good lessons on winter driving

1 person found this helpful

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Great character development

As a cradle Anglican, I appreciated Claire’s character. Julia Spencer-Fleming is a wonderful narrator with the exception of Russ’ voice which I found grating. Well worth listening to, enjoy.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

My favorite series begins here

After reading the entire series, I am now listening to them. Suzanne Toren is spot-on with the voices and I am enjoying them even more with her excellent narration. In the Bleak Midwinter introduces Russ and Clare and by the end of the book (which is so complete with strong characters, a solid mystery and heartwarming humor) you can't wait to start the next one. Clare's military background enables her to hold her own when confronted with danger,changing Russ' initial annoyance with her, to admiration. You'll be rooting for them all the way.
Hopefully, audible.com with offer all of them.

5 people found this helpful