Hid From Our Eyes Release

Edith here, still hunkering down.

The title of this blog could be rephrased as, We Love Julia Spencer-Fleming. She has a new (ninth) book out in her most wonderful Clare Fergusson / Russ Van Alstyne mystery series. Hid from Our Eyes releases next Tuesday! It’s been a little while since the last one, and I wanted to have her here as our guest. She’s a Mainer, our friend, and has had huge success with the prior books in the series. (Hint – read down for a giveaway!)

After two earlier murders in Miller’s Kill with similar murder scenes – twenty years apart – 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 the 70s. The pressure is on for Russ to solve the murder before he’s removed from the case. Russ enlists the help of his police squad and Reverend Clare Fergusson, who is already juggling the tasks of being a new mother to her and Russ’s baby and running St. Alban’s Church, to finally solve these crimes.

You know you want to read this book.

All Julia’s in-person launch events were cancelled, alas. She has hosted many of us on her own group blog, the wonderful Jungle Red Writers. She wasn’t able to send us a guest post, so we wrote it for her.

Wickeds: What’s your favorite Clare-and-Russ mystery and why? Who is your favorite character in the series? If you have a personal anecdote about Julia, please share.

Barb: So happy to give a signal boast to Julia Spencer-Fleming who is an absolutely lovely person and a writer who constantly inspires me. I’m not home in Portland while I’m writing this, so I went to peruse the descriptions of all the series books online. What a wonderful stroll down Memory Lane and a reminder of the series arc to date as I get ready to read the new one. My favorite is All Mortal Flesh and I can’t even say why without a spoiler for those who haven’t read the series. I had planned to read Hid From Our Eyes on a cruise this spring, but now I guess I’ll have to read it right away.

Jessie: I completely agree with all your sentiments, Barb! I couldn’t be happier to help celebrate her newest release! Not only is Julia an author I admire, she is a person I admire. I love her books and her energy and encouraging nature. I know that we have all been eagerly awaiting this book and am just delighted that we are able to welcome it here today!

Edith and Julia at the 2013 Bouchercon. Sherry couldn’t make it so we brought her on a stick!

Edith: Can I say all of her books? One thing I admire about Julia (in addition to what a lovely, generous, and funny person she is) is that she keeps shaking up how she tells the story. I’m afraid I’ve lost track of which, but one highly suspenseful book took place over only twenty four hours. Another one goes back in time and returns to the present, then goes further back, and repeat until the reader really understands how the past is linked to the present. I love that I can learn about storytelling from her.

Julie: Julia is one of my aspiration writers. I hope I can tell a story as beautifully as she does one day. I don’t have a favorite in the series, but if I had to chose one I’d pick In the Bleak Midwinter, the first in the series. It started it all. Happy book birthday, Julia!

Edith: She’s one of my aspiration writers, too, Julie. I have long said that if I could write like Julia does, I’d die happy.

Liz: I am beyond excited about this book! I love this series so much. Her characters are so compelling and keep me hooked. I love all the books too – it would be impossible to pick just one! Congrats Julia!

Sherry: I can’t pick one book either. The first line of In the Bleak Midwinter is often picked as a favorite first line from a book and it is amazing. I love how Julia set up the conflict between Russ and Clare. I love that Clare was an Army helicopter pilot and now an Episcopalian priest which creates more conflict. At Bouchercon in St. Petersburg, Florida in 2018 the Wickeds who were there went to dinner with fabulous author Lucy Burdette and Julia. Lucy was in the middle of introducing me and I made a complete fool of myself fan girling Julia. (I’ve offered to pay for her therapy.) She’s an amazing writer and woman.

Julia, so many congratulations!

Readers: Do you have a favorite J S-F book? An anecdote? Questions about Julia? Please chime in. Julia very generously told me she will send two of you a signed and personalized copy of the new book. (As she says, “I have a daughter who can go to the post office for me.”)


102 Thoughts

  1. Frankly, I love all of Julia’s books, and Hid From Our Eyes was well worth the wait…an absolute wow of a book (I read an ARC). Congratulations, Julia on another great Clare/Russ story.

    Favourite Julia story? I love the Jungle Red Writers and they often did a hilarious game show panel at various Bouchercons. I remember Ross and Julia’s daughter running around the room, passing the microphone and handing out prizes to the audience members. Their joy and antics were wonderful.

      1. So far, my youngest has been to that one – was that Cincinnati? and to Albany and Long Beach, CA, where we stayed on the Queen Mary. She’s already agitating to go to the next Bcon with me (fingers crossed we can have one this year!)

    1. Oh, Grace, I loved that Bouchercon! Ross just loved pitching in, and it was such a cool experience for Virginia to be able to take part. I’m delighted you think of it fondly, too.

      1. That JRW game was definitely a highlight of that Bouchercon for me, Julia. I don’t think I laughed so much at a Bouchercon session before and it was thanks to both the Reds and your family that it was such a memorable event!

    2. I loved all of the Russ and Clare books too. I cannot wait until I receive Hid From Our Eyes on the 7th. 3 more days!

  2. I have known Julia for a few years but don’t know why I haven’t read any of her books until I read Hid From Our Eyes. This book blew me away and I immediately went and read the first book in the series. My favorite is “Hid From Our Eyes” with “In the Bleak Midwinter” a close second.

  3. Embarrassed to say, but Julia Spencer-Fleming is a new to me author. After reading about “Hid from Our Eyes”, it is now on my must read list and hoping to change that status. I would be thrilled if I were one of the two selected to receive a copy of this marvelous book and would gladly leave reviews everywhere. Thank you for introducing me to a another great author and for the chance to win one of her books!

  4. I’m not sure how I found In the Bleak Midwinter, but I’m so glad I did. This series is amazing, and I love Clare and Russ. Thanks for helping Julia out with her book release!

    1. Aren’t they the greatest, Celia? And I think one of the good things to come out of this terrible crisis is the way so many people are thinking, “What can I do to help _____?” and coming up with new and interesting ways to reach out. There is a LOT of authors-helping-authors going on, and it really warms my heart.

  5. It took me forever to start these books as well, and I don’t know why. Yes, that first line of IN THE BLEAK MIDWINTER is terrific. I picked up 3-8 when her publisher was offering discounted ebooks in the lead-up to #9. I figured at that price I had absolutely no excuses. I’m up to #4 and enjoying them tremendously. I can’t pick a favorite yet.

    I met Julia at Bouchercon in St. Petersburg. She was so lovely. I’d never met her before and she invited me to sit right down on the veranda and engaged me in conversation like we were old pals. What a delightful person.

    My second reminder today to call Mystery Lovers and pre-order the new book.

    1. Liz, I’m delighted you took advantage of the sale prices. (Most of the ebooks on my Kindle come from offers like that – I mean, you can’t get a coffee and a donut for $2.99!) Thanks for the preorder, and especially, thank you for shopping at an independent book store. It’s more important than ever these days.

  6. I love all of Julia Spencer-Fleming’s books, though I do think Bleak Midwinter is my favorite. Her descriptions of the area and the interaction of her characters makes for a really good read! I think I was first attracted to the book from a description of Clare as a former Army pilot – my husband was in the Army for 24 years and we knew a number of pilots, so it seemed like a natural read. So glad that I found it! We all have been waiting awhile for this book, so it will be like seeing long time friends again.

    1. Thank you, Kitty! I come from a military family – my father was Air Force and then Army, by husband was Air Force, and now I have a son in the Navy. (On shore duty right now, and not aboard ship, thank heavens.) So writing characters with deep roots in the Army was a natural for me.

  7. This series is one of my automatic reads and I am so thrilled that there is an new entry! Congrats!!!! And lucky us.

    1. Elizabeth, I feel like the lucky one – I’m extremely fortunate that there are readers out there still excited to read a new novel from me six years after the last books came out!

  8. Though I know about her books, I have yet to read one ( hangs head in shame ). I definitely need to get started! Congratulations to Julia!

  9. I have read and absorbed every book in this series and have been waiting anxiously for this new entry. They are all my favorites. I am drawn to Clare as a person and have watched her grow and change through the series. Fleming creates a depth in her characters that goes beyond most mysteries, and she balances past against present to show the characters’ development. She and Deborah Crombie are my hero authors. Thanks, Edith, for this glimpse into what will be another great reading experience.

    1. Judy, thank you so much! Before I met her, Deb Crombie was also one of my fan-girl-all-over authors. Her Duncan Kincaid/Gemma James series is a true benchmark of quality.

    1. Thanks, Mel – I’m a huge suspense fan as well, although I confess, I’ve been binging in cozies these days. I love escaping to small towns where people bake fresh muffins and the murderers aren’t that scary…

  10. So happy to see the release of this book! They are all fantastic. I have been following Jungle Reds for years and Julia’s posts. Was lucky enough to meet her with other Jungle Reds at Bouchercon 2014. She had family with her and they raced around passing out books. Such fun. Big congrats to her today!

    1. I’m so glad you’re a Jungle Reds fan, Sally! As the Wickeds know, having a bunch of blog sisters is such a fun way of interacting with readers. And yes, the Bouchercon at Long Beach was a blast.

  11. The Poisoned Pen Bookstore has a virtual discussion with Julia on Tues., April 7 at 5 PM MST. Check it out!

    I have 8 of her hard bound books – signed #9 is
    coming soon! Picking out
    a favorite one would be
    like choosing one of my
    four children! I like the
    character descriptions & the realistic description of the trivia of organized religion!

    1. Thanks for the shout out, Jane. I’m both excited and nervous for the Poisoned Pen event – not the talking part, but the technical details! They’ve promised me someone will walk me through everything and virtually hold my hand…

  12. I absolutely loved In the Bleak Midwinter! Thank you for writing this series!

  13. Oh, thank you for introducing me to another great author. I’m so looking forward to a new-to-me series! I would love to win the latest as kick start.

    1. Don’t you love finding a new author, Ginny? One of the good things about this crisis is that I’m seeing reading recommendations everywhere, and my list of books to buy or check out is growing every day.

      1. It’s such a gift to find a new author, and to enter a new world. Thank you for creating characters that feel like family!

  14. I’m only at the beginning of my journey with Julia’s work but I’m a big fan of hers for sure. That may seem strange but I’ve been interacting with her over on the Jungle Red blog for a while now.

    I even got to meet her at a signing a couple summers ago. It was a joint signing for Rhys Bowen and Lucy Burdette. They were being interviewed by Hank Phillippi Ryan and Hallie Ephron. Edith was there and so was Julia. Unbeknownst to me until at the end of the event, there were a few other authors in the audience as well.

    And I got to meet Kristopher Zgorski from Bolo Books as well. And that’s where things tie in to Julia. I’d read that Julia was going to be in attendance and wanted to get a copy of the first book in the series to have her sign it that night. I ran into Kris and talked to him about that part of my plan. I hadn’t found a copy yet but he was looking around the store where the event was held and came back to hand me a copy of said mysterious tome! So I got it signed and had a brief conversation with the ever so nice Julia Spencer-Fleming.

    Now I just need to get working on reading the book so I can start reading the rest of the series. You know, if I ever find myself with an abundance of free time for some reason or another.

  15. I haven’t read any yet, she’s a new author for me. I’ll have to be checking these out.

  16. I love JSF’s series and just ordered my copy from Letterpress Books in Portland, all my others in the series are signed so that would be amazing! I was actually thinking today about having my 12 year old start the series. Kids these days are a lot more mature than we give them credit for and I think she would enjoy them. Can’t wait til mine arrives!

    1. Amy, thanks for the pre-order, and thank you so much for supporting one of our local bookstores! Hang on to it – if you don’t win, I have faith that sooner or later, we’ll be back to doing live events, and I’ll to be happy to sign your book in person!

  17. I love the whole series! My wife was a military chaplain and a parish pastor, so Clare is a very believable person. Now our son and daughter-in-law are in the Army, and we retired to a very small rural town. Would be delighted to have a personalized copy.

    1. Are you sure your wife isn’t Clare Fergusson, cathyhs? Signs might be: drives too fast, interested in interfaith initiatives, likes to get involved in murder investigations. 🙂

  18. I lucked into a copy of In the Bleak Midwinter at the library–so started the series right! Julia S-F has been one of my must-read authors ever since. I can recall all of the snippets she shared of Hid From Our Eyes over on JRW and can’t wait to read the final version.

    1. Thank you, Flora! You may be surprised when you read the final copy – some of those preview scenes have disappeared entirely, and others have been altered quite a bit. It really was a work in progress for a loooong time.

  19. I enjoy all the series, and watching Clare and Russ and Millers Kill grow and change. My wife used to be a military chaplain and parish pastor, and now we are retired to a rural town of about 2900 folks. Would love to have a copy from Julia!

  20. Julia is a new author to me. Her book sounds amazing and I would really enjoy reading it. Thanks for the chance

  21. I love them all and must treat myself to a re-read of the whole series. As an Anglican (UK Episcopalian equivalent) priest it’s great to read about a believably human clergy character and to have an author get all the ‘churchy’ details right.

    1. Thank you, Julia! It’s always a great compliment when a clergy person says I got things right. I appreciate it. And FYI, there’s a UK edition coming out at the same time from Headline Publishing.

  22. I found In the Bleak Midwinter as a Nook Free Fridays book. B&N is so sneaky – I got hooked on a bunch of series because they gave the first book free! Actually, it was a lifesaver – I was having some medical issues at the time and spent most of 2 months doing nothing but reading: 60 books in about 60 days. Free Fridays saved my checkbook from hemorrhaging too badly. What attracted me to the book at first was the setting, upstate New York, but the characters were so real out and the plot so well thought out that I had to go and get all the rest of the books that had been published so far. I can’t wait for Hid From Our Eyes and would love to win a copy.

    1. Elizabeth, I’m delighted to know that my books were some of the ones that helped get you though a difficult time. We’re ALL finding out these days how wonderful and necessary it can be to escape into a good read!

  23. I haven’t read this author yet but I am now adding her to my TBR pile. Thanks for introducing her to us.

  24. I was attracted to this series when I read the opening line in Book 1. I had the opportunity to meet Julia a few years ago when she was a part of a Maine female mystery authors tour. So enjoyed hearing her stories.

  25. I fell in love with this series when I read the opening line of Book1! I had the pleasure of meeting Julia one summer when she was on a Maine female mystery writers tour. Loved hearing her stories.

    1. I must say, Evelyn, I’m particularly pleased by that first line. I’ll never have one that good again – but it’s okay, because I got that one, and on my first try, too!

  26. Years ago the local librarian, a good friend who well knows what I like to read, informed me that she’d placed a book on hold for me because she knew I’d like it. The book was “In the Bleak Midwinter” and she was absolutely right. The characters, the setting (much like rural Eastern Ontario, where I live) and the plots of that and subsequent books in the series have all resonated with me. And now there’s another one on the horizon! Thank you, Julia, for writing these books.

    1. Thank you for reading them, Muffet! And your story goes to show there’s nothing – no ads, no online reviews, no Face Book updates – that sells a book like a trusted librarian or bookseller putting in your hands and saying, “I think you’ll like this.”

  27. It’s absolutely impossible to single out just one of Julia’s wonderful Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne books as best . . . each one is unique and brings something new and special to a series that gets better and better with each new book.

  28. My favorite is always the next one! Though I am particularly fond of One was a Soldier.
    Have the audible on pre-order and may get the hardback as well, it has been a long wait.

    1. Becky, ‘m particularly fond of One Was a Soldier as well. You’re in for a bonus treat on the audio book – Suzanne Toren, who does such a marvelous job bringing my characters to life, recorded a conversation with me. We had a great time, and discovered some interesting things about each other’s work!

  29. So glad you got another book out. I’ve been waiting for ages, it seems. I’ve been a fan since the beginning. I’m 82. Just have to keep the virus away until I read the book. Thanks for sharing your imagination with us.
    Margaret Pruter

    1. Margaret, you have to keep the virus away longer than that! Stay at home, wash those hands, and make sure you have a mask for when you go out. We want you around to read many, many more mysteries!

  30. I stumbled upon Julia’s books several years ago and read the entire series to that point while I spent time on the couch waiting for knee replacement surgery. When I heard that she was recovered enough to take up pen again I was thrilled!! In anticipation of the new book coming I reread all of them again, some more than once this time. Can’t wait for next week.

    1. Julia, I’m glad to have provided distraction before your surgery (as someone with arthritis in both knees, I can empathize!) Honestly, I can’t wait for next week, either.

  31. I love these books! I can’t pick a favorite, they are all so wonderful. My MIL recommended them to me, she told me she thought I would really enjoy them and she was right. I’ve been so looking forward to this book.
    Happy Book Birthday Julia

  32. Julia spoke at our systems annual meeting and I thoroughly enjoyed her easy manner and her sense of humor. I started purchasing her books for the library and she is now a must have, favorite author with my patrons. And me!!

    1. Sue, are you with the Southern Adirondack Library systems? I well remember speaking at that meeting. Delighted your patrons are enjoying my books – I like to know I’m circulating! 😉

  33. I love the Clare and Russ books. Have been anxiously waiting for Hid From Our Eyes. Our Ottawa (Canada) public library has a fantastic hold system and I wanted to be first in line for this book, so I put several reminders in my calendar to check if the library has ordered it yet. Now, with everything in life “on hold” it seems, no signs of anything happening at the library. Might suggest an early Mother’s day gift idea to my son….

    1. Liz, I’m always game for one of my books being a Mother’s day present, but I suggest you also look into checking it out as an ebook or audiobook from your Ottowa library. Most libraries are really ramping up their capabilities to digitally while we’re all staying at home. My Portland, ME library is allowing new patrons to apply for an download a virtual library card so they can check out books and other media while the library buildings are closed!

  34. I do love all of Julia’s books and can’t choose a favorite. But maybe the last one? It took me years before I read any of her books and then I truly loved them. My mother liked them and always asked me to order them for her which I did. I asked what they were about and she said “oh, an episcopal priest in the Adirondacks.” Really. Why would I want to read that, I thought. My mother always passed her books on to me when she finished them; many became big favorites. But I wasn’t too interested in that priest book even if it took place where it did. So after my mother died it was my job to do something with all the books and I went through them to see which ones I would donate and even though I had them all I did get rid of several of Julia’s books. But something made me pick up the first book and see what it was all about to make sure I really should pass it on. The first page pulled me in and I have been a fan ever since. Why didn’t my mother just say “they are fantastic and you will love them”? Who knows. But I do love them, every single one and I’m pretty sure my mother will be reading over my shoulder and urging me to turn the pages faster!

    1. Judi, what a lovely story! My mother and I used to pass books back and forth, swapping grocery sacks full when we would see each other. She died two years ago, and you know, one of the things I miss most is being able to talk about books with her.

  35. My extended family lives not too far from Miller’s Kill, so I was drawn to the books for the atmosphere. But it is the way that Julia Spencer-Fleming writes the characters that makes these books so excellent. They could be my grandfather’s neighbors and friends, and the writing makes me want to know more about them.

    1. Thank you, Joey! I always hope people who know the Washington/Warren/Saratoga counties area can recognize the characters, places and the weather in my books. I always say I’d like readers to feel they could drive up NY State Rte 9 and actually wind up in Millers Kill.

  36. I am thrilled that I discovered this series, just in time to have time to snuggle in and read them one after another! This format is my idea of a perfect scenario. I love the conflict/relationship very much and am surprised at how well Julia has done to keep the tension constant. I’m about to start #7and I’m bemoaning the thought of reaching the end! My grandmother introduced me to Agatha Christie years ago and I have been in constant search of Julia’s continuation of the civilian/police partnership. My grandmother would have LOVED this series.

    1. Shirley, if you like a strong amateur sleuth/police pair-up, let me recommend Hank Phillippi Ryan’s Jane Ryland series, with a reporter teaming up with a very sexy detective, or Rhys Bowen’s Molly Murphy series, historicals set at the turn of the century with a new Irish immigrant and an NYPD captain. One of my absolute favorite series – one that influenced me as a writer – is Margaret Maron’s Deborah Knott series, with newly-elected judge Deborah Knott and her friend and eventual love interest (it takes a long time…) Dwight Bryan. SO GOOD.

  37. A book is exceptionally good when I read until well after midnight and keep saying “one more chapter.” This was the case for In the Bleak Midwinter. It was an Episcopal priest friend of mine that introduced me to the series in 2011. As a school librarian I make a point to read more than children’s books and I’ve been eagerly awaiting the next title in Julia’s series. During this odd time of COVID-19, returning to Miller’s Kill to follow Clare and Russ’s adventures sounds perfect.

  38. I’m new to her books and I’m excited to read thrm. Thank you for the chance

  39. Julia is a delight! The first book I read was In The Bleak Mid Winter. I am a fellow Mainer,Episcopalian and widow of a helicopter pilot. I thought OMG just is the perfect series for me. I had the pleasure of meeting Julia and her wonderful husband and kids at a book release party at RiRah’s in Portland. Now like me, she is a widow and the young’s are grow. I’m more of a rabid fan than ever. Can’t wait for me preorder to come. Her daughter has a weekly column in our local paper and is an incredible and insiteful writer whose column appeals to all adults. The apple as they say doesn’t fall far from the tree.

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