RogerBW's Blog

I Shall Not Want, Julia Spencer-Fleming 09 October 2023

2008 mystery (modern police procedural plus amateur), sixth in its series. Police chief Van Alstyne is still working through grief over his dead wife. But he still has to be the police chief.

And this town is still full of hateful people, bound up in racism and toxic masculinity. Even the good guys refuse anything like post-trauma counselling, because surely breaking down in tears while you're driving is a good sign that you're ready to deal with a high-stress situation.

Meanwhile farm labourers imported from Mexico may be in the country illegally, and/or drug dealers, and/or victims of crime, and naturally most of the town is ready to leave all of Those People to solve their own problems. The whole thing is spread over about a year, which I suppose helps resolve my issue with the remarkably high murder rate in this small town, but I never really got a sense that anything else was happening in the times between; all the important moments are here, whether that's Russ and Clare dancing around each other, slivers of progress on the case, or the town's first policewoman trying to avoid getting into a relationship with a fellow cop (she had enough complications in her life already).

It's great that the relationship that's been building over six books finally reaches the point where both of them are mentally able to do something about it. I just wish I cared more about them and they felt less like worked examples from a textbook on relationships.

There's an early flash-forward to a very dangerous situation. Flash-forwards always strike me as the author not having enough confidence that their opening chapters will hold the reader's attention.

And there's another "things are looking vaguely positive, let's shake everything up out of nowhere" ending. Well, OK.

I'm interested to see where this goes, but my goodness it can be hard work getting there.

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Previous in series: All Mortal Flesh | Series: Fergusson-Van Alstyne | Next in series: Letters to a Soldier

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