Out of the Deep I Cry

Readers of Julia Spencer-Fleming’s first two novels will be delighted to find in Out of the Deep I Cry even deeper shades and subtleties of her signature closely-observed characterization and acutely rendered settings. There is added pleasure to be found as well in the ambitious and carefully rendered plot: parallel stories of a mysterious disappearance and the events surrounding it in the early 1930’s, and a present-day, equally mysterious disappearance and its effects on the people of Millers Kill and the descendants of the people involved in that earlier mystery. Spencer- Fleming’s ability to evoke small town life and characters in the Adirondack community of Miller’s Kill has been obvious since her first book, A Fountain Filled with Blood (2003). The weather, the sky, the mountains, the dark forests, deep lakes and fast rivers, all come alive. To this, she now adds a deep sense of how the region’s past influences its present.

In 1930, Jonathan Ketchum walked out of his home in Millers Kill and completely disappeared, leaving behind a wife and a young daughter. No one ever saw him again. The case remained open; was it foul play, was it a simple runaway, or was it something else? Years later, Jane Ketchum founded and generously endowed a free clinic in Millers Kill, a memorial to her husband. Where did the funds for this come from?

Jump forward to the present: Alan Rouse, the doctor in charge of the Ketchum Clinic has disappeared just as suddenly and just as mysteriously as the man the clinic was named for. As Russ Van Alstyne investigates Dr. Rouse’s disappearance—with the help of Clair Fergusson, whether he wants it or not—it becomes clear that there is a dense web of causes and effects that link the people and events of over seventy years earlier with the present-day inhabitants of Millers Kill and current puzzling events. The romantic attraction between Clair Fergusson, the young, plucky, impulsive priest, and the older, steady and intelligent—and comfortably married—chief of police also arrives at a surprising new juncture, as the two gradually work out the motivations and historical forces at work in their small town.