It took me a bit to get into A Fountain Filled With Blood, which is the second book in Julia Spencer-Fleming’s series about a young female Episcopalian priest who becomes involved with the police chief of her small town. For one thing, I made the mistake of trying to read this book before I read Book 1. For another, several of the initial scenes involve violence against gay people in the town, and I was genuinely unsure if I could handle reading about that. Nor was I terribly happy about the relationship brewing between Clare, the priest, and police chief Russ–because Russ is married to another woman, and that seemed to me to be asking for all sorts of annoying angst I wouldn’t enjoy reading about.
But then I did go back and read Book 1, In the Bleak Midwinter, and wound up enjoying that more than I expected. So I opted to give this one another chance.
As with Book 1, the writing here is quietly engaging, with just enough descriptive detail to be vivid, and not so much that it gets in the way of the story. The spate of violence–which soon enough includes murder–that must be investigated is suitably complex, and once I got past the uneasiness of seeing gays targeted, it was refreshing to see Clare speaking out against such acts being perpetrated. Clare in general seems to be a highly atypical priest, which for me at least makes her an interesting character even if sometimes I have a hard time buying her plausibility.
The heart of the book is of course her burgeoning relationship with Russ. If the idea of a protagonist being attracted to a married man bothers you, especially if that protagonist is a priest, you might skip this series. But I will give it credit for handling the chemistry between the two leads in a very ethical way so far. My only complaint is that I’d like to see the police chief’s wife on camera, and given the same complex treatment of character that Clare and Russ have gotten so far. I may have to read farther in the series just to see if that occurs. For this installment in the meantime, four stars.