I've been a fan of these novels since picking up "In The Bleak Midwinter" at the library a number of years ago. It's been interesting to watch the characters grow and change over time.
In this outing, Clare and Russ are still adjusting to married life ... while she is up before an ecclesiastical review board for having sex outside of wedlock (which is evident because of her pregnancy) and he is worried that the little town of Millers Kill will carry out its plan to eliminate the local police department and let the state troopers take over investigation, etc., of any crimes in the area. Russ' one-time rival for the Millers Kill police chief job, State Trooper Bob Mongue, is working with the board of aldermen to make it happen.
The two are about to head off on their much delayed honeymoon, to the ice-fishing cabin Russ wants to buy, when they learn that an arson was also the site of a kidnapping. The 8-year-old victim, Mikayla, is a liver transplant patient who needs to have her immunosuppressant medication to stay alive ... so time is of the essence. With much weighing on their minds, the couple heads out of town during what turns out to be one of the biggest ice storms ever. Officers Kevin Flynn and Hadley Knox are working on both the investigation and their relationship ... while Hadley battles her abusive ex-husband over custody of their two children.
This is the plot-line in a nutshell.
Watching all of the challenges the characters have faced over time, and seeing them dealt with in a realistic, non-fairy-tale fashion, has been a real joy. Once again, author Julia Spencer-Fleming got the "whodunnit" past me ... even though the clue was in plain sight. These books have always been entertaining page-turners for me, with a hearty dose of police procedural along with the relationship drama.