- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Award-winning author Deborah Crombie has been delighting readers for years with her English procedural series featuring Scotland Yard sleuths Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James, including the 1997 Macavity Best Novel winner, Dreaming of the Bones . Now comes Kissed a Sad Goodbye , the sixth book in the series. This time, Duncan and Gemma are struggling to sort out some weighty personal issues as they work together to solve a murder with roots that go back more than 50 years.
Annabelle Hammond, the second daughter of tea magnate William Hammond, seems to have life by the tail. She is director and part-owner of her father's highly successful tea company, a job she not only enjoys but has an obvious flair for. She is a stunningly beautiful woman who turns heads wherever she goes. And she is engaged to Reg Mortimer, who is both her childhood sweetheart and an assistant at Hammond's Teas. But Annabelle's life is cut tragically short; she is found in an East London park, dead from a massive head wound. The corpse has been left carefully and respectfully laid out, hinting that Annabelle may well have known her killer.
Duncan and Gemma are called in to help local DI Janice Coppin investigate the murder, and it doesn't take long for them to discover that Annabelle's life wasn't at all what it seemed. The deeper they dig, the longer the list of both suspects and motives grows. First there is Annabelle's older sister Jo, whose marriage fell apart several years ago when Annabelle had an affair with Jo's husband, Martin Lowell. Jo seems to have reconciled with her sister, butMartinlays all the blame for his divorce firmly at Annabelle's feet. His bitterness has grown to the point where he tells his eleven-year-old son what happened, thus convincing the boy that the woman who was once his favorite aunt is really nothing more than a whore.
There is also Lewis Finch, a wealthy older man who has bought up much of the dock area surrounding Hammond Teas. He wants to buy the Hammond warehouse as well, but so far he has been unsuccessful. When it's discovered that Finch had an erratic but drawn-out affair with Annabelle in the recent past, Duncan and Gemma suspect some highhanded manipulations may have been going on. What's more, Finch's son, Gordon, a street musician whose bohemian lifestyle and support of the working class is a direct rejection of everything his father stands for, also had an affair with Annabelle, though he claims he recently broke it off.
Finally, there is Reg Mortimer, Annabelle's fiancé. When Duncan and Gemma discover that Reg learned about at least some of Annabelle's many indiscretions just before she was murdered, he becomes their most likely suspect. Yet his shock at her death seems genuine, and he appears to have a solid alibi.
Complicating the professional part of Duncan and Gemma's lives are a few personal crises, including the still-tentative quality of their relationship with one another. Duncan is trying to get to know Kit, the eleven-year-old son he never knew he had until his ex-wife's recent murder. But balancing the demands of fatherhood with those of his job proves to be a frustrating and monumental task. For Gemma, the challenge comes in the form of an unexpected love interest. As she tries to sort out the tangle of her emotions, she risks jeopardizing both her career and her relationship with Duncan.
As the two dig deeper into Annabelle's life and murder, they realize that the key lies some fifty years in the past, when both William Hammond and Lewis Finch were evacuated from a bombed-out London during World War II. Something happened during those years they spent together, something that spawned an intricate web of lies and deceit which has grown for more than half a century.
Kissed a Sad Goodbye is a richly textured addition to Crombie's series which also offers the gift of two stories in one. Interwoven with the modern-day story of Annabelle's murder is a moving and affecting tale of two boys who were brought together by the circumstances of war, then thrust apart by the burden of a terrible shared secret.
— Beth Amos
Beth Amos is the author of several mainstream suspense thrillers, including Second Sight, Eyes of Night and Cold White Fury . She lives in Richmond, Virginia, and is at work on her next novel.