There's more truth than humor in Crombie's eighth thriller set in contemporary London. When someone does in Dawn Arrowood, the young, pregnant wife of a wealthy antiques dealer, in her soign Notting Hill home, Inspector Gemma James is put in charge of the investigation. Gemma's lover, Det. Supt. Duncan Kincaid, believes the murder is the work of a serial killer, but Gemma suspects the victim's husband, Karl Arrowood. Despite their combined efforts, the slasher strikes again. Fearful of igniting a new Jack the Ripper-style panic, Duncan and Gemma soon find themselves at odds when their investigations become linked in startling, unexpected ways, culminating in an exciting denouement with serious undercurrents. Crombie keeps the action moving throughout, providing a cook's tour of London, from Tower Bridge to Portobello Market, as well as plenty of gruesome detail ("Kincaid felt the bile rise in the back of his throat as he squatted, using his pocket torch to illuminate Dawn Arrowood's motionless form"). There's some amusing sociological commentary interspersed throughout, plus the occasional frisson ("A jogger brushed past, startling him a tall, slender, hooded figure. Alex felt a shock of familiarity, but when he turned, the man had vanished"). The result is a competently plotted, reasonably engaging mystery that blazes no new pathways, but keeps the reader involved all the way to its predictably sanguinary conclusion. (Sept. 3) FYI: The author has been nominated for Edgar, Agatha and Macavity awards. The Independent Mystery Booksellers Association named Crombie's Dreaming of the Bones one of the 20th century's best mystery novels. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
In Crombie's eighth masterly police procedural featuring Scotland Yard Superintendent Duncan Kincaid and Inspector Gemma James, the pair's relationship deepens. With the progression of Gemma's pregnancy (revealed in A Finer End), they consolidate households while working together to solve three murders. Dawn Arrowood, wife of prominent Notting Hill antiques dealer Karl, 25 years her senior, is newly pregnant and is having an affair when she is killed (her throat cut, her lung pierced) outside her home. It's no longer an isolated case when Kincaid finds similarities in the murder of antiques dealer Marianne Hoffman two months earlier, and police lose a prime suspect when Karl himself is found dead. The earlier history of a young woman, threaded through the narrative, becomes part of the intricate weave of the lives of the small cast of characters and the revelation of the damage done to so many by one man's ruthlessness. If the level of coincidence is high, it's easily forgiven owing to native Texan Crombie's skill in fashioning a supremely satisfying traditional British mystery, updated with Gemma the modern career woman juggling her life as well as her cases. Essential for mystery lovers, particularly for Anglophiles and fans of P.D. James. Michele Leber, Fairfax Cty. P.L., VA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Just as newly promoted Inspector Gemma James's pregnancy is starting to show-and to remind her how little room her flat has for a new baby-her lover, Supt. Duncan Kincaid (A Finer End, 2001, etc.) happens onto a piece of incredible luck: a most reasonable five-year lease on a house in fashionable Notting Hill, with room enough for both of them, together with Kincaid's son Kit, Gemma's son Toby, and the imminent arrival. Their advent, however, is marked by tragedy when antiques dealer Karl Arrowood's much younger wife, Dawn, is found stabbed to death in her driveway. Dawn had also been in the early stages of pregnancy, a revelation that shocks both her lover, porcelain dealer Alex Dunn, and her husband, who insists that the child must have been his despite the vasectomy he got after his two grown sons, Richard and Sean, soured him on family life. Both those sons, resentful of the trophy wife who stands to inherit their father's considerable estate, have a powerful motive for killing Dawn, as do Karl himself and, it eventually seems, half the merchants on Portobello Road. But Gemma's arduous rounds of questioning provoke only anger or amusement among the suspects, and a second murder produces only more confusion. It'll take endless interrogations of several families' dim past histories, supplemented by repeated flashbacks, to disclose the truth. Anglophiles will cheer the sociological evocation of the changing London neighborhood, and there's plenty of justice, despite the title, though the detection is more dogged than inspired.
Praise for the Acclaimed Novels of Deborah Crombie
A Finer End
“Crombie has laid claim to the literary territory of moody psychological suspense owned by P. D. James and Barbara Vine. Superbly creepy and melodramatic.”
The Washington Post
The New York Times
Kissed a Sad Goodbye
The Washington Post Book World
“[Crombie] is writing in P. D. James territory, and she is a master.”
Dreaming of the Bones
The New York Times Book Review
“Dreaming of the Bones will make you cry and catch your breath in surprise.”
A New York Times Notable Book