Romance dominates Crombie's 13th contemporary procedural featuring Scotland Yarders Gemma James and Duncan Kincaid, who are on the verge of getting married (after 2008's Where Memories Lie). The how, where and when of their wedding proves a considerable source of stress to both, overshadowing the murder investigation of Naz Malik, a solicitor suspected in the disappearance of his wife, Sandra Gilles, an artist specializing in textile collage. Malik was found suffocated in Bethnal Green, with traces of an animal tranquilizer in his system. Meanwhile, James's mother is seriously ill, placing James in the impossible position of trying to fulfill both her familial and work responsibilities. In addition, James must fight to keep Malik's now parentless young daughter from falling into the custody of Sandra's unsavory relatives. Hopefully, Crombie will provide a better balance of police work and her characters' personal lives next time. (Oct.)
A young mother goes missing, and three months later her husband is found murdered. Assigned the racially and socially charged case, Scotland Yard Detective Superintendent Duncan Kincaid must assuage the egos of local detectives while leading his own team. Detective Inspector Gemma James, Kincaid's ex-partner, is also interested because the unlucky spouses' young daughter is now orphaned. Crombie, known for her intricate plotting and careful character development, interweaves the police investigation with James's personal problems—her mother's battle with cancer, her friend's depression, her family's dislike of her wedding plans with Kincaid. VERDICT Fans of the series (Where Memories Lie) will lap this one up because the focus is on James running her own unsanctioned investigation. [See Prepub Mystery, LJ 6/1/09; for more mystery, go to LJ's Mystery Book Buzz webcast at http://bit.ly/AV1nw, where this title was highlighted.—Ed.]
Would a mother abandon her child to get out of a problematic marriage?Still mourning her miscarried baby, DI Gemma James can't settle on wedding arrangements to Scotland Yard Superintendent Duncan Kincaid. He fears she may back out: Their best friends Hazel and Tim are divorced, and the marriage of Gemma's parents is challenged by her mother's chemo. When Pakistani lawyer Naz Malik turns up dead three months after his white wife Sandra disappeared, there are rumors that she ran off with another bloke. Would Sandra have abandoned the daughter she doted on? Did Naz, who loved his wife and child, commit suicide? Arranging temporary custody for the Maliks' toddler, Charlotte, Gemma becomes obsessed with figuring out why Sandra vanished and Naz died. She's hampered by Narcotics, which has been watching Sandra's druggie brothers for years and doesn't want Gemma interfering. That doesn't stop her, and she gets a concussion for her troubles. Suspects include a former agent for Sandra's artwork, a restaurateur whose missing nephew was to testify at his corruption trial and the owner of a private club whose wealthy members fancy very young girls. More complications arise when a tabloid-newspaper baron susses out facts the Yard is not ready to release, Gemma's sister piles on guilt about the wedding and Charlotte seems headed for a truly unsuitable family placement. Despite a smattering of East End history and racial discord, this is really a study of what makes relationships work or fail, thoughtfully unfolded by a dependable pro (Water Like a Stone, 2007, etc.).