Following up on the story of the Rev. Clare Fergusson’s recovery from serving in Iraq, Through the Evil Days took what was for me an unexpected turn. Instead of delving into her thoughts about how dramatically her life is changing (marriage, pregnancy, sobriety, PTSD, etc.), the book is almost all action — despite the fact that it’s supposed to be Russ and Clare’s long-delayed honeymoon.
Russ has found a lake house that he’d like to buy and renovate with Clare, so they decide to go there for a quiet honeymoon; even when a massive ice storm is heading their way, Russ remains determined to go because so often in his first marriage he allowed work to interfere with family time, and he doesn’t want to let that happen again. Right motive, wrong decision.
As it turns out, one of their closest neighbors on the frozen lake is a shady character who appears to be tied to a missing child from Millers Kill. And probably to meth distribution and a bunch of other bad stuff. So, as the ice storm freezes them in place, Russ and Clare feel obligated to figure out what’s going on next door. If the child is there, she’s in dire need of medical help.
In the meantime, there’s lots of other intrigue going on in Millers Kill, where Russ is police chief. Kevin and Hadley’s on-again/off-again relationship rekindles, which is awkward when they’re also the investigative team assigned to finding the missing child. The never-ending ice storm causes no end of problems for the police, and without the chief Lyle MacAuley has to figure out how to handle it all, while the department also being threatened by the budgetary ax. The mess only gets worse when Hadley’s ex-husband shows up and tries to use their children to get what he wants.
The story is told chronologically, jumping back and forth from the lake to Millers Kill, which means every time something breaks on one side, you hop right to the other and have to wait to find out what happened at the other location. Oy! It never slows down.
And amidst all that both Kevin and Hadley and Clare and Russ are trying to figure out where their relationships are heading. When Russ blurts out to a state trooper how he really feels, it’s hard to imagine how Clare is going to be able to get past it.
But that relationship stuff is on the back burner here. Through the Evil Days is mostly about tramping through the woods with guns, getting caught and escaping again, a dog getting shot at on two separate occasions, threatening ex-husbands and angry meth kingpins. If it’s contemplation of your career or life, as Clare and Russ were expecting, that you want, it’s not what you’ll get. But this is Russ and Clare: we know they’ll work it out in the end.
P.S. I read the copy that I gave my mom for Christmas. See how that works out?