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By Julia Spencer-Fleming

St. Martin's Paperbacks (May 3, 2005) Paperback
ISBN: 0312988885

Reviewed by Karen Meek

The Edgar nominated OUT OF THE DEEP I CRY is the third in this series set in Millers Kill, a small town in the Adirondacks, with lead protagonists, Reverend Clare Fergusson and Police Chief Russ Van Alstyne. Apart from very engrossing plots a major hook is the relationship between the two leads who have an undeniable attraction to each other but one that cannot be acted on as Russ is married.

The roof of the church is falling in and desperate, Clare accepts money for repairs from committee member Mrs Marshall who is the trustee for the Ketchum fund, money that was previously directed to the free clinic in town, run by Dr Rouse. When Mrs Marshall and Clare visit the clinic to inform Dr Rouse, they find single mother Debba Clow threatening the doctor. Clare had met Debba recently and discovered that Debba believed that a routine vaccination had given her son autism and she was blaming Dr Rouse for using ‘dangerous’ medicine. Clare manages to calm Debba down and get her a lawyer. Mrs Marshall and Clare delay their news to Dr Rouse for another day but finally he’s told the bad news. Mrs Rouse confides to them that her husband seems to be acting odd of late and Clare suggests he may be depressed.

Dr Rouse in a final attempt to make Debba see reason arranges to meet her at an old cemetery plot, next to a reservoir to show her what happens when you don’t vaccinate. Mrs Marshall’s four siblings died, before she was born, of diphtheria because the parents had delayed in getting the jab. Dr Rouse stumbles in the snow and bangs his head on a gravestone. Debba helps him to his car and after he refuses further help, she leaves. Later that night a distraught Mrs Rouse contacts Russ as her husband has vanished.

Debba is naturally the prime suspect in the disappearance of Dr Rouse but the search for him reopens the town’s oldest cold case, that of the disappearance of Mrs Marshall dad, Jonathon Ketchum.

OUT OF THE DEEP I CRY alternates between the modern day search for Dr Rouse and flashbacks to the Ketchum family up to seventy years earlier, which reveal the truth about the lives of Mrs Marshall’s family, her father’s disappearance and finally the source of the trust fund.

After the superb IN THE BLEAK MIDWINTER and A FOUNTAIN FILLED WITH BLOOD I found myself a bit disappointed with this story. Neither thread, that of the missing doctor or the historical goings on, captured my interest as much as I’d have liked. This may be because the characters involved aren’t particularly sympathetic or likeable. The Clare/Russ banter is as sparkling as ever and I like Clare’s attitudes however I do prefer reading the parts from Russ’s point of view which I find more related to the plot, rather than church matters. Clare and Russ reach a crisis point in their relationship and we finally get to meet Linda Van Alstyne. I look forward to seeing how this relationship triangle continues.

Overall, excellent dialogue and descriptions but I found the plot a bit thin for 400p pages and the historical chapters seemed to drag the story down even more.

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