Reading: Hid From Our Eyes

Hid From Our Eyes by Julia Spencer-Fleming, 2020 Minotaur Books hardcover or ebook, Claire Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne Mysteries (# 9), mystery, 352 pages. I read the ebook version on Kindle for the Mac.

This is the ninth book in Spencer-Fleming’s series of mysteries set in Miller’s Kill, upstate New York. It’s been seven years since the previous book, and many readers, including myself, have been anticipating this book.

The blurb
Hid From Our Eyes picks up a couple of months after the events of 2013’s Through the Evil Days, Spencer-Fleming’s last novel. Clare and Russ are now parents, doting on their 4-month-old son, Ethan. They juggle child-care duties and exhaustion while Clare tries to maintain her sobriety. A movement to replace the small Millers Kill police department with the state police has Russ and his officers on edge, fearing they will lose their jobs.

Then the body of a well-dressed young woman with no obvious sign of foul play is found in the middle of an out-of-the-way road. The Medical Examiner can’t find a cause of death. However:

1952. Millers Kill Police Chief Harry McNeil is called to a crime scene where a woman in a party dress has been murdered with no obvious cause of death.

1972. Millers Kill Police Chief Jack Liddle is called to a murder scene of a woman that’s very similar to one he worked as a trooper in the 50s. The only difference is this time, they have a suspect. Young Vietnam War veteran Russ van Alstyne found the body while riding his motorcycle and is quickly pegged as the prime focus of the investigation.

Present-day. Millers Kill Police Chief Russ van Alstyne gets a 911 call that a young woman has been found dead in a party dress, the same MO as the crime he was accused of in 1972. The pressure is on for Russ to solve the murder before he’s removed from the case.

As usual, Russ enlists the help of his police squad and Reverend Clare Fergusson, who is already juggling the tasks of being a new mother while running St. Alban’s Church.

My Take
While I think this was a great plot idea, and the idea of various police Chiefs being involved over the years, for me it stretched out a little too much. Still, I was fine with that. I sure didn’t see the solution coming until near the end, and that’s good. But please, leave out all the stuff about the baby, the cranky baby, the wailing baby, the baby tossing food about, the baby… You get the idea. Other than making Claire (and the reader, in my case) grumpy, those scenes did nothing to advance the plot a single iota. Also, note that there is a cliffhanger at the end.

So for fans, or completists, this is worth reading. Otherwise, you have been warned.

About Richard Robinson

Enjoying life in Portland, OR
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20 Responses to Reading: Hid From Our Eyes

  1. tracybham says:

    As I have said before probably, I am way behind on the series and obviously a lot has happened since where I left off. I will have to get back to book #4 and then find copies of the others.

  2. Steven A Oerkfitz says:

    As soon as I read retired helicopter pilot turned Episcopalian priest on one of her previous book jackets I kinda lost interest. Which may not be fair. Although your comments about the cranky baby isn’t likely to change my mind.

  3. Jeff Meyerson says:

    What I like about the series – Russ and Claire (mostly) and Russ’s mother, who – unfortunately in my opinion – does not have enough to do in the later books. Also, the Adirondacks setting. I understand she has had a lot of personal issues that led to the seven years between books, but I didn’t need to read this review to guess that the new one couldn’t possibly answer the anticipation of fans waiting that long. I’m going to have to wait until the library reopens to get this, as they don;t have an ebook edition and I am not going to buy it.

    I decided to pull the next Peter Turnbull Hennessey and Yellich procedural off my bookcase, as it has been several years since I last read one of the Yorkshire books, which I enjoy for certain reasons. One, the city of York is a place I know and like a lot, and Turnbull does a good job bringing it and the area to life. Two, the books are short, about 215 pages, which is amazing in this day and era. (The book I read, All Roads Leadeth, was published in 2003.) They are generally simple and straightforward, with a crime and a pretty obvious suspect. In this case, we got something very different from the usual mix, and it worked well. A man buys a big but derelict foreclosed house in the country, and while fixing it up, he discovers the skeleton of a dead woman, who it seems disappeared some 20 years ago. Presumably, she was murdered by her husband, but happily for the story, things are not quite as they first seem, and further complications ensue, before the generally satisfying end.

    There are certain elements present in all of these books and they are here too, elements of Hennessey’s and Yellich’s private lives. If you’ve read one, you will know what I mean. Think of it as comfort food. This is definitely one of the better, and less obvious, ones so far. Turnbull has also published a series of their stories in EQMM and I’ve enjoyed those as well.

    • Jeff, I think you’re analysis is spot on. I had hoped for a resolution of a subplot with secondary characters, and that was exacerbated instead, throughout and with the cliffhanger ending.

      I have a Turnbull around here, on your previous suggestion, but have yet to crack it. It’s Deathtrap, a 2000 entry in the series. Now I’m moving it to the top of the TBR.

  4. Geoge Kelley says:

    I’m about to finish the last Library book in this house. I have a bag full of completed Library books. I tried to return them by putting them in the slot…but the slot was covered by a sign that said: NO RETURNS UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE. So, I just drove home with my bag of Library books. I’ll try again when the Library opens. Sadly, I think the States are going to open the Economy too soon. A lot of people are going to die who didn’t have to.

    • I won’t reply to that last sentence, I’m trying to be non-political, for my own health.

      I have a stack of library books too. Our system said no returns at the very beginning. They don’t have staff working the branches to process them in. They say there will be no fines.

      • Jeff Meyerson says:

        We have both been downloading library books when available in that format, As a matter of fact, Jackie is currently reading a book she downloaded from the Palm Beach County Library system. I have a number of “real” books on hold for whenever the library does reopen, including the Julia Spencer-Fleming.

        • I have a bunch of books on hold too, I fear they will all pop up at once whenever the system reopens. That includes the new Scalzi, which I went ahead and bought, along with the second in the trilogy, as I discovered I had the first already on the shelf in hardcover. Sigh. This library closing is costing me some dough.

          • Steven A Oerkfitz says:

            I have a few books and movies on hold but have gone ahead and bought a few that I didn’t want to wait on. Last time I checked you can’t put anything on hold anymore until they reopen. Will probably end up buying the new Scalzi.

          • Steven A Oerkfitz says:

            I notice that some states will soon open up clothing, furniture and jewelry stores but not bookstores. I can understand clothing and furniture but jewelry before bookstores?

          • Steve, no more holds here, either. We need a shirt: BOOKS before jewelry!

  5. Jeff Meyerson says:

    Jackie and my sister both agree – who SAID hairdressers aren’t essential?

  6. Thanks for your review. I appreciate your point of view. I recently read and wrote on this title too. I think that long term readers of the series who know Russ and Clare will enjoy the baby scenes more than readers new to the series, just because they may have more of a relationship to the characters.

  7. For some reason, this comment got hung up in the system (sorry Joyce), so I’m posting it this way:
    joycesmysteryandfictionbookreviews commented on Reading: Hid From Our Eyes

    Thanks for your review. I appreciate your point of view. I recently read and wrote on this title too. I think that long term readers of the series who know Russ and Clare will enjoy the baby scenes more than readers new to the series, just because they may have more of a relationship to the characters.

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