Review: A Finer End by Deborah Crombie

a-finer-end

 

A Finer End
by Deborah Crombie
Series: Duncan Kincaid / Gemma James series, Book 7
Genre: Mystery
Published by Bantam Books, 2001
Library Book
325 pages
Grade: B+
Synopsis: When Duncan Kincaid’s cousin calls from Glastonbury to ask for help on an unusual matter, Duncan welcomes the chance to spend a relaxing weekend away from London with Gemma. But Glastonbury’s ancient past soon reveals a dark and bloody secret which is about to shatter the calm of the present day.

Once outside, she stood her bike upright, then paused. There was a sharpness to the air that matched the clarity of the magenta sky above the Tor, and from somewhere she could have sworn she heard the faint thread of pipes. She felt again the temporal dislocation that Glastonbury sometimes engendered, as if the centuries had eased their boundaries and bled into one another.

and

“You all right?”

“The music . . .”

“Lovely, wasn’t it? Good choir at St. John’s” He whistled under his breath. “I promised the Major we’d buy him a drink. The Freemason’s arm, you think? It’s a nice enough evening to sit outside.”

Gemma gazed at him in consternation. Tall, slender, his unruly chestnut hair falling over his forehead, looking down at her with an expression of interested inquiry–he made a picture of the perfect sensitive man. So why did she suddenly feel they might as well be from different planets?

How could he take such music for granted? Had he not felt that the glory of it was almost beyond bearing? The gap between their perceptions seemed immense.

Cheers

  • Very different mystery than others I’ve read so far in this series. Not the typical police procedural!
  • A-finer-end-map
    Endpaper in A Finer End–Glastonbury map by Laura Hartman Maestro

    I didn’t figure out the mystery in this book. There are many threads and characters. Very entertaining and interesting.

  • We find out more about Duncan and Gemma. They have more problems to overcome and no longer work together. Gemma is promoted at the beginning of this book and given a new assignment. This puts added strain on their relationship. They already have other problems from past books–the murder of Duncan’s ex-wife, Duncan’s son and the fact they both are divorced and Gemma is especially shy about a permanent relationship.
  • Music plays a big part in this book. I really like how Gemma is discovering her innate love of music.
  • Such an interesting book. I love all the history about Glastonbury and the maps which have started showing up in the books. The history in Ms. Crombie’s books have me searching the internet to find out more about the setting and historical aspects.
  • This book is mystical in many places. That fits in the setting of Glastonbury.
  • Jack Montfort, is the reason Gemma and Duncan go to Glastonbury. Jack is an architect with both feet on the ground, but when he starts automatic writing and gathers a group of people around him who hope to figure out the why and what of the authomatic writing other mysteries. secrets and dangers begin to appear.
  • The group around Jack all have their own secrets and some don’t seem very trustworthy.
  • In all the books I’ve read so far in this series history and past actions are very important in the stories. This book continues with that pattern, but even more so.

Jeers

  • I had trouble keeping up with the characters in the first part of the book. A lot of people were introduced in a short period of time. That made the beginning of the book a little slow. I persevered and was soon hooked!

And a few thoughts . . .

  • Another excellent book in this series.

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

  • 2014 Goodreads Challenge (Hoping to read 100 books this year)

Review: Kissed a Sad Goodbye by Deborah Crombie

kissed-a-sad-goodbyeKissed a Sad Goodbye
by Deborah Crombie
Series: Duncan Kincaid & Gemma James series, Book 6
Genre: Mystery, British Police Procedural
Published by Bantam Books, 1999
Library book
322 pages
Grade: B+
Synopsis: Scotland Yard’s Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James face their most haunting case yet when the past devastatingly intersects with the present….

The call from Scotland Yard couldn’t have come at a worse time for Detective Superintendent Duncan Kincaid. He has promised the weekend to Kit, the eleven-year-old son of his ex-wife. The son he never knew he fathered — who doesn’t yet know Kincaid’s true identity.

But Duncan’s best intentions are shattered by an investigation that draws him in and swiftly consumes him. It seems to begin with the discovery of the body of a beautiful young woman in an East London park. But Kincaid and Sergeant Gemma James will discover that this case has long roots that reach far back into the past, and that resentments which should have been decades buried still have the power to hurt — and maybe even the capacity to kill.

“Sit down. I’ve made us some coffee. This morning we’re just going to get acquainted.”

“But I thought . . .” Gemma’s nervousness flooded back. Whatever had possessed her to make this appointment, to give up a free Saturday morning that could have been spent with Toby? It had been a stupid idea, a chance thought followed up when it should have been dismissed, and now she was about to make an utter ass of herself. Thank goodness she’d told no one but her friend Hazel what she meant to do.

Wendy Sheinart sat down beside Gemma and lifted the coffeepot. “Now.” Smiling, she filled Gemma’s cup. “You can tell me why you want to play the piano.”

Cheers

  • I did figure out who had committed the murder, but didn’t figure out the correct reason!
  • I like learning more and more about Duncan and Gemma. I empathize with Duncan and all the changes to his personal life that occurred in the last book.
  • So many things have changed in Duncan and Gemma’s lives. Finding out he has an 11-year-old son came as a shock. He and Gemma are still trying to come to terms with this and how it affects their relationship. And Duncan is trying to figure out how he can be part of Kit’s life when he isn’t Kit’s legal guardian.
  • During this book Gemma must make decisions about her future.
  • One of the things Ms. Crombie does a good job with is showing many sides to her characters. Gemma has gradually discovered a love of music as these books have progressed. As the quote above shows she decides to take piano lessons, but she’s very unsure of herself and doesn’t like to admit her vulnerability. It doesn’t quite fit how she sees herself.
  • I also like the quotes which Deborah Crombie puts at the beginning of each chapter. In this case, the books she quotes from tell about the setting for this book–The Isle of Dogs, a peninsula in the River Thames. The history of the area and especially during WWII is important to the story.
  • The library books (hardcovers) I’ve read in this series have wonderful maps on the end pages. The map from this book, drawn by Laura Hartman Maestro, is great because it really helps to visualize the area in England the book talks about. They also show where certain things happen in the book so I don’t look too closely until I’ve finished a book! I think all the maps are drawn by her, but I’m not sure.

Jeers

  • None

And a few thoughts . . .

  • If you have the opportunity, read from the books from the beginning as Gemma and Duncan’s lives change throughout the books.
  • Such a good mystery series. Deborah Crombie does a great job creating a series which is satisfying both on the personal level as well as the professional level.

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

Reading Challenges

  • 2014 Goodreads Challenge

 

Review: Dreaming of the Bones by Deborah Crombie

dreaming-of-the-bones

Dreaming of the Bones
by Deborah Crombie
Series: Duncan Kincaid & Gemma James series, Book 5
Genre: Mystery, Police Procedural (British)
Published by Scribner, 1997
E-book, Purchased
355 pages
Grade: A-
Synopsis: It is the call Scotland Yard Superintendent Duncan Kincaid never expected — and one he certainly doesn’t want. Victoria, his ex-wife, who walked out without an explanation more than a decade ago, asks him to look into the suicide of local poet, Lydia Brooke — a case that’s been officially closed for five years. The troubled young writer’s death, Victoria claims, might well have been murder.

No one is more surprised than Kincaid himself when he agrees to investigate — not even his partner and lover, Sergeant Gemma James. But it’s a second death that raises the stakes and plunges Kincaid and James into a labyrinth of dark lies and lethal secrets that stretches all the way back through the twentieth century — a death that most assuredly is murder, one that has altered Duncan Kincaid’s world forever.
Ten years ago, twelve years ago, he’d been a by-the-book copper, and he probably would have laughed at her suspicions. But he’d learned not to discount intuition, even as unlikely as it sometimes seemed.
and
“One of the things I’ve learned over the years in police work is that sometimes we just can’t know all the answers–life doesn’t always tidy itself into neat little compartments. It’s frustrating and infuriating, but if you don’t learn when to let go, you can’t stay in the job.”

Cheers

  • This is another series which is best read from the beginning. I’m really glad I did!
  • Duncan’s ex-wife calls asking for a favor–which doesn’t please Gemma at all! It puts a crimp in their relationship until they both talk.
  • I like the quotes and poems at the beginning of chapters…though I’ve never done well interpreting poetry. It was fun to read about the poetry though.
  • Victoria, Duncan’s ex-wife, is writing a biography of a poet who went to college in Cambridge in the 1960’s and lived there most of her life until her death five years before this story opens.
  • The Cambridge setting is well-done.
  • I was pulled in by one of the red herrings!
  • I did finally figure out what must have happened, but it was close to the end of the book!
  • One theme I find in this series I’ve read so far–the importance of the past to what happens in the present. In this book it’s the poet Lydia Brooke’s life.
  • During each book we slowly learn more about Gemma and Duncan and their pasts. I like that it slowly unfolds.

Jeers

  • None

And a few thoughts . . .

  • This book really stuck with me. I think because it has Duncan’s ex-wife in it and he must really confront a number of difficult things from his past.

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

  • 2014 Goodreads Challenge

Review: Mourn Not Your Dead by Deborah Crombie

mourn-not-your-dead

 

Mourn Not Your Dead
by Deborah Crombie
Series: Duncan Kincaid & Gemma James series, Book 4
Genre: Mystery, Police Procedural (British)
Published by Scribner, 1997
E-book, Purchased
310 pages
Grade: B+
Synopsis: The murder at Holmbury St Mary was not one that Superintendent Duncan Kincaid of Scotland Yard would relish investigating. A man has been beaten to death in his own home. A man who just happened to be Commander Alastair Gilbert of the Metropolitan Police… Only adding to Kincaid’s problems are his tangled personal feelings for Sergeant Gemma James. And in an investigation of this importance neither can afford a breakdown in their relationship. Combining subtle emotional nuances and psychological insights with the intricacies of police procedure, Deborah Crombie produces a powerful contemporary mystery in the classic tradition.

When she’d started in the force, a rookie constable, she’d almost unconsciously shared her parents’ disdain for those who could “better themselves if they made the effort,” but experience had quickly taught her that the equation was almost never that simple. For some the most you could do was try to make their lives a little more comfortable, and if possible leave them a bit of dignity.

and

“And we can’t compromise ourselves….We swore to uphold the law, not to pass sentence, and we dare not cross that line, no mater how good our intentions….”

Cheers

  • The book is told from both Duncan’s and Gemma’s points of view.
  • This is a case no policeman would want to investigate–the murder of a Commander with the Metropolitan Police. Lots of political problems with that one!
  • Gemma is uncomfortable with Duncan and they are at odds with each other during much of the book.
  • I really like the dialogue Crombie writes as well as the sense of place and descriptions she gives the reader.
  • The mystery is also well plotted and kept me guessing.
  • I like the characters introduced in each book. Some become continuing characters and some we don’t see again, but they are well crafted.
  • These books don’t pull their punches. Sometimes bad things happen when we don’t want them to.

Jeers

  • I’m still troubled by the relationship between Duncan and Gemma. But I’m compulsively reading these books!

And a few thoughts . . .

  • I’m reading these books much faster than I’m getting them reviewed. I have to hurry up and get these reviews done and posted!

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

  • 2014 Goodreads Challenge

Review: Leave the Grave Green by Deborah Crombie

leave-the-grave-green

Leave the Grave Green
by Deborah Crombie
Series: Duncan Kincaid & Gemma James, Book 3
Genre: Mystery, Police Procedural (British)
Published by Scribner, 1995
Library book
253 pages
Grade: B-
Synopsis: When Connor Swann, the dissolute son-in-law of renowned and influential Sir Gerald and Dame Caroline Asherton, is found floating in a Thames River lock, the circumstances eerily recall a strangely similar tragedy. Twenty years ago, the Ashertons’ young son, Matthew, a musical prodigy, drowned in a swollen stream while in the company of his sister Julia — Connor Swann’s wife.

Police Superintendant Duncan Kincaid and Sergeant Gemma James quickly discover that Connor’s death was no accident, and that nothing in the Asherton family is as it seems. Connor, though estranged from Julia for more than a year, still lives in her London apartment, where his exploits with women and gambling suggest plenty of motives. The Ashertons are far more attached to Connor than to their own daughter, and these are only the first of the secrets that haunt the suspects. New lies cover older lies, as Kincaid finds himself dangerously drawn to Julia Swann, and Gemma must confront her own troubling feelings for Kincaid.

Gemma thought of her mother, who had risen in the early hours of the morning to bake every day of her married life, then worked the counter in the shop from opening till closing. The possibility of not working never occurred to Gemma or her sister–it had been Gemma’s driving ambition for the work to be of her own choosing, not something done purely for the necessity of putting food on the table.

and

Like Prince Charles, he found most contemporary architecture to be a blight upon the landscape.

Cheers

  • I’m finding as I read these mysteries that past history is always important to the story–in this case, the characters’ pasts cause problems for them in the present.
  • The Asherton family is the definition of a dysfunctional family.
  • I like how the books take place in different parts of England.
  • I like how Gemma and Duncan keep growing and changing. Gemma is discovering a love for music.

Jeers

  • In all three of books so far in the series Duncan seems to feel more sympathy to female characters in his cases. I’m not sure I like that about his character!
  • This is a spoiler…so if you haven’t read the book don’t read further. (If you highlight the text after this you will see the spoiler!) I love Gemma and Duncan, but she works for him and it’s very unprofessional for them to have a personal life together when Duncan is her supervisor.

And a few thoughts . . .

  • I didn’t like this book nearly as much as the last book. (Because of the above spoiler.) Otherwise, I like the book! 😉
  • However, even though I don’t agree with some of the actions of the characters in this book I continue to like these books a lot.

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

  • 2014 Goodreads Challenge (Hoping to read 100 books this year)

Review: All Shall Be Well by Deborah Crombie

all-shall-be-well

All Shall Be Well
by Deborah Crombie
Series: Duncan Kincaid & Gemma James, Book 2
Genre: Mystery, Police Procedural (British)
Published by Scribner, 1994
E-book, Purchased
268 pages
Grade: B+
Synopsis: Perhaps it is a blessing when Jasmine Dent dies in her sleep. At long last an end has come to the suffering of a body horribly ravaged by disease. It may well have been suicide; she had certainly expressed her willingness to speed the inevitable. But small inconsistencies lead her neighbor, Superintendent Duncan Kincaid of Scotland Yard, to a startling conclusion: Jasmine Dent was murdered. But if not for mercy, why would someone destroy a life already so fragile and doomed? As Kincaid and his capable and appealing assistant Sergeant Gemma James sift through the dead woman’s strange history, a troubling puzzle begins to take shape — a bizarre amalgam of good and evil, of charity and crime . . . and of the blinding passions that can drive the human animal to perform cruel and inhuman acts.

 

It is sooth that sin is cause of all this pain,

But all shall be well and all shall be well and

all manner of things shall be well.

–Juliana of Norwich, 15th century

and

No older woman-younger man scenario possible: dying made one acceptably non-threatening.

Cheers

  • I like this mystery a lot. It deals with the idea of mercy killing, assisted suicide, whether and when to live or die.
  • The characters in this book are so interesting. We find out more about Duncan and Gemma, but I also like that we meet the Major and Jasmine who live in the same building as Duncan.
  • When Jasmine dies Duncan feels guilty he hadn’t visited her in the last day or two so he investigates her death, but doesn’t really think he will find it was murder.
  • Much of the story is told from Jasmine’s POV. A lot of it from her journals. I enjoyed learning more about her even after she died. She has led such an interesting life.
  • There are a number of likely suspects and the plot is well crafted. I didn’t figure out the mystery until near the end.
  • I really like the working relationship between Duncan and Gemma. He doesn’t condescend to her.
  • I also like finding out more about Gemma and her family life…a single mom working as a cop, an ex-husband who stops paying child support.

Jeers

  • None

And a few thoughts . . .

  • Book 2 is quite different from the first book in the series. I like when an author isn’t predictable when writing a mystery series.

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

  • 2014 Goodreads Challenge (Hoping to read 100 books this year)

Review: A Share in Death by Deborah Crombie

a-share-in-death

A Share in Death
by Deborah Crombie
Narrated by Michael Deehy
Series: Duncan Kincaid & Gemma James, Book 1
Genre: Mystery, Police Procedural (British)
Audiobook Published by AudioGO, 2011 (originally published in 1992)
Audiobook, Purchased
288 pages
7 hours, 7 minutes
Grade: B
Narrator Grade: B
Synopsis: A week’s holiday in a luxurious hotel is just what Scotland Yard’s Superintendent Duncan Kincaid needs. But his vacation ends dramatically with the discovery of a dead body in the whirlpool bath. Despite a suspicious lack of cooperation from the local constabulary, Kincaid’s keen sense of duty won’t allow him to ignore the heinous crime, impelling him to send for his enthusiastic young assistant, Sergeant Gemma James. But the stakes are raised significantly when a second murder occurs, and Kincaid and James find themselves locked in a determined hunt for a fiendish felon looking for fresh blood….

There was no hurrying sheep.

Cheers

  • A new mystery series (new to me)!
  • I read this book quickly and immediately picked up the next book. I like a mystery with a good story, but I also like books in a series where we gradually find out more about characters and friendships deepen.
  • I’ve felt in the mood for a mystery–especially a police procedural. I like these if the main characters aren’t corrupt police. And I don’t want to read about children in danger or a story about the blood and gore. I don’t want to get into the mind of murderers–especially serial killers.
  • This is a good beginning to a new series (although it was written 20 years ago!) No cell phones then!
  • I like Duncan Kincaid. He’s on vacation and wants not to attract attention so he doesn’t tell people he’s a policeman. So, of course, a suspicious death occurs and he has to tell everyone he’s a policeman. The other guests feel he lied to them. The local police–especially the officer in charge–feel he’s putting his nose into their business. But he empathizes with people and thus is able to understand them and solve the crime.
  • In this mystery because Duncan is a guest in the hotel he learns more about everyone’s life than he normally might if he was a policeman investigating a murder. He has a personal stake in what is happening. He meets the people staying at the hotel before the murder and he likes some of them. That makes it both harder and easier for him.
  • Gemma is mostly in the background in this book. She does the background interviews for Duncan–tracking down the relatives and associates of the people at the hotel. She’s also a single mom so we see a little about how she juggles home and job.

Jeers

  • We don’t get to know the people in the hotel too well.

And a few thoughts . . .

  • I’m very excited to find a new series! I haven’t read many mysteries lately and I really enjoyed this so I plan to read some more.
  • Lark @ The Bookwyrm’s Hoard first brought Deborah Crombie to my attention and I’m so glad she did. This first book was on sale at Audible a couple months ago and when I decided I wanted a mystery I remembered this book. It’s the first book in the series so it was serendipity to pick it out and listen to it!
  • As soon as I finished this book I went and searched for the second book!

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

  •  The 2014 New Author Reading Challenge hosted at the Literary Escapis
  • 2014 Audiobook Challenge hosted by Hot Listens and The Book Nympho blogs.
  • Goodreads Challenge.