Julia Spencer-Fleming

To Darkness And To Death

The fourth book in the Reverend Clare Fergusson series, 2005

To my father, Lt. Melvin Spencer, USAF and to my father, John L. Fleming

My father moved through dooms of love through sames of am through haves of give, singing each morning out of each night my father moved through depths of height

– E.E. Cummings

My father didn’t tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it.

– Clarence B. Kelland, 1881-1964


I want to thank my husband, Ross Hugo-Vidal, who heroically sat through every children’s movie made in the summer of ’04 in order to give me time and space to write. If it weren’t for Ross, this book would still be a large pile of index cards.

Thanks to my children, Victoria, Spencer, and Virginia, for taking their mother’s erratic working hours and long absences during book tours in stride. I owe a debt of gratitude to everyone at St. Martin’s Press, especially my editor, Ruth Cavin, who helped me shape a huge stack of manuscript into the story I wanted to tell, and to Toni Plummer, who dealt with my raving phone calls with humor and good grace.

If any of you aspiring authors out there wonder if an agent is worth his fee, the answer is yes, yes, a thousand times yes, in the case of Jimmy Vines and his hardworking assistant Alexis.

Several people read To Darkness and to Death in manuscript form, and their suggestions made it a much better book. Thanks to Roxanne Eflin; my parents, John and Lois Fleming; Ellen Pyle; and Mary Weyer. Several other people gave me food, drink, and a place to stay while I roamed about the country talking about my books: Thank you, James and Robin Agnew; Evonne, Dan, and Michelle McNabb; Daniel and Barbara Scheeler; May Lou Wright and Judy Bobalik. And thanks, as ever, to Les Smith, for giving me a longing to inquire into the mystery.

The Day Is Gently Sinking to a Close

– Christopher Wordsworth, 1863

The day is gently sinking to a close, Fainter and yet more faint the sunlight glows: O Brightness of Thy Father’s glory, Thou eternal Light of light, be with us now: Where Thou art present darkness cannot be; Midnight is glorious noon, O Lord, with Thee. Our changeful lives are ebbing to an end; Onward to darkness and to death we tend; O Conqueror of the grave, be Thou our Guide; Be Thou our Light in death’s dark eventide; Then in our mortal hour will be no gloom, No sting in death, no terror in the tomb. Thou, Who in darkness walking didst appear Upon the waves, and Thy disciples cheer, Come, Lord, in lonesome days, when storms assail, And earthly hopes and human succors fail; When all is dark, may we behold Thee nigh, And hear Thy voice, “Fear not, for it is I.” The weary world is moldering to decay, Its glories wane, its pageants fade away: In that last sunset, when the stars shall fall, May we arise, awakened by Thy call, With Thee, O Lord, forever to abide, In that blest day which has no eventide.

Morning Prayer

When the wicked man turneth away from his wickedness that he hath committed, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive.

Ezek. 18:27

Saturday, November 14, 5:00 A.M.

Cold. The cold awoke her, creeping underneath her blanket, spreading like an ache along her hip. She tried to move, to burrow into some warm space, but the cold was beneath her, and then there was a hard, hot twinge of pain in her shoulders and she had a panicky moment of Where? What? She tried again. She couldn’t move her arms. They were pinned behind her back, her wrists fastened by something sticky and implacable.

Scream. Her cheeks and lips didn’t move. Her eyelids felt glued together, but she

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