Saturday, May 21, 2011

Deborah Crombie: Delicious British Police Mysteries with a Twist

Deborah Crombie
If you're smart in this business, one of the ways you learn is by listening to your clients. One of ours, an ardent collector, has had us chasing down lovely copies of Deborah Crombie's police procedurals for months now. So ... I made time to read one.

The one I read this weekend is the third in the series, LEAVE THE GRAVE GREEN (1995). Scotland Yard, at the request of a wealthy and influential couple whose son-in-law has just died, sends Superintendent Duncan Kincaid and Sergeant Gemma James to see whether there's been foul play. Murder is almost immediately likely, and Kincaid and James spread their resources, often each investigating solo, to track down the motive and killer. (The means, unfortunately, is all too close: a dangerous lock of the Thames River.)

Oh, lucky me! I loved the book! It wasn't just the evocative descriptions of British countryside tucked amid the rapid plot twists, or the intelligent insights into what makes families work and not -- how they fall apart, and how people gain a reason for taking a life. No, it's the existence of a constantly tightening thread of tension between Kincaid and Gemma James, echoing and reflecting the discoveries among the people being investigated. Crombie knows how work and love and despair can braid and bind. And in spite of a solved crime, the book's finale is heart-rending.

Fortunately, I don't have to go weep into my hanky: There's a fine list of Crombie's novels ahead of me, assuring me that somehow the characters move onward from their losses and pain. (Since this isn't a recently translated Scandinavian crime series, I also don't have to be concerned that the pain will simply deepen from book to book, ending in a morass of darkness.)

Here's the list -- oh, and by the way, Crombie, like "Charles Todd" (the son and mother writing team), loves the British and Britain, but started life in the United States and has returned to live here, in Texas (the Todds are on the East Coast). Her next novel, No Mark Upon Her, is scheduled for February 2012 in the US -- and sooner summer 2011 the UK. Check her website for sample chapters and more.
The Duncan Kincaid/Gemma James Novels
1. A Share in Death
2. All Shall Be Well
3. Leave the Grave Green
4. Mourn Not Your Dead
5. Dreaming of the Bones
6. Kissed a Sad Goodbye
7. A Finer End
8. And Justice There is None
9. Now May You Weep
10. In a Dark House
11. Water Like a Stone
12. Where Memories Lie
13. Necessary as Blood

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