Excerpts from the winning entries in the “A Tale for Three Counties” book review contest:
Linda Daviau, Batavia
What a wonderful way to escape from our Western New York midwinter — curl up with a mystery so captivating that you are immediately caught by it and find it difficult to put down. I found myself at once drawn to this story; wanting to know what would happen next, yet knowing that when in fact I did finish this novel, I would no longer have the enticing pleasure I found as I read it. What a fix — the relationship I formed with this wonderful whodunit would end when the mysteries were solved! In the Bleak Midwinter is one of those special novels that immediately catches you in its world. It serves the mystery genre well.
David S. Stevens, Le Roy
As presented by Julia Spencer-Fleming, Vaughn Fowler is all too believable and all too tragic. Here is a man in the position to do a great deal of good but instead does a great amount of harm. He could have helped his son Wes and the girl Katie raise their baby Cody and continue their education. As the poem by Christina Georgina Rossetti goes: “If I were a wise man, I would do my part/Yet what I can give him; give him my heart.”
Lost in a cloud of ignorance, Vaughn Fowler follows his evil, midguided course right to its tragic end: murder on murder, “snow on snow.”
Frances H. McNulty, Batavia
The Reverend Clare Fergusson. Readers will be introduced to a strong, intelligent, sensitive, and very human individual. Clare faces challenges encountered by many woman today. Her career, which has traditionally been a man’s field, presents additional obstacles. These may be greater because of the location in which she finds herself.
From her early introduction to the town’s police chief, readers can watch their relationship develop into one of friendship and mutual respect. Each benefit equally from the other, in the way a true friendship should exist.
The book offers insight into a character that is, above all else, a fine example of today’s modern woman, one I would truly enjoy knowing.
Joyce Thompson-Hovey, Pavilion
The main characters were ones you could easily relate to and you were soon caught up in their lives. The author skillfully interwove the characters with the storyline making each chapter flow smoothly into the next, making you want to read on and on. Humor and fun bantering between the two main characters were interspersed throughout the book, sometimes even in the midst of a really tough problem solving situation. One minute it was just a story of small town everyday life and the next moment you had an important fact about the investigation emerging. Along with all of this the author would interject something that her grandmother used to say, which gave you a real feeling of respect for the wisdom of someone who had lived life and learned many valuable lessons. The author not only made you really get involved in the story, but the characters seemed like you really knew them.
The Rev. Paul H. Letiecq, Albion
Just as the book’s title is the first four words of the poem/hymn “In the Bleak Midwinter” (one of my favorites), so the book itself shows folk who “give him my heart,” the last four words of this poem/hymn.
This book includes a wide assortment of believable ordinary folks, many of are living according to their hearts as much or more than their heads. It is a well-told, gripping story that reached out and involved my heart in caring for the characters and a positive outcome. It moved me so engagingly that I have acquired the author’s next book in the series, A Fountain Filled with Blood, and will begin reading it as soon as I send off this review.
Ann Burlingham, Perry
Spencer-Fleming writes convincingly of both a newcomer’s exposure to “bleak midwinter” and of her protaganist’s internal struggles with her duties and role in her new community. Fergusson’s challenges are external and internal, social, professional, and personal, and, as another character says, she “jumps feet-first without thinking” into them all. Clare is a fallible, believable character who faces her duties with strength and wit.
Courtesy of Batavia Newspapers Corporation