In the past...
On a blisteringly hot August afternoon in Crystal Palace, once home to the tragically destroyed Great Exhibition, a solitary 13-year-old boy meets his next-door neighbor, a recently widowed young teacher hoping to make a new start in the tight-knit South London community. Drawn together by loneliness, the unlikely pair forms a deep connection that ends in a shattering act of betrayal.
In the present...
On a cold January morning in London, Detective Inspector Gemma James is back on the job now that her husband, Detective Superintendent Duncan Kincaid, is at home to care for their three-year-old foster daughter. Assigned to lead a murder-investigation team in South London, she's assisted by her trusted colleague, newly promoted Detective Sergeant Melody Talbot. Their first case: a crime scene at a seedy hotel in Crystal Palace. The victim: a well-respected barrister, found naked, trussed, and apparently strangled. Is it an unsavory accident or murder? In either case, he was not alone, and Gemma's team must find his companion - a search that takes them into unexpected corners and forces them to contemplate unsettling truths about the weaknesses and passions that lead to murder. Ultimately, they will begin to question everything they think they know about their world and those they trust most.
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Excellent addition to a consistently good series
Don't know--have read all the ones before this, and this is the first I've listened to. I'd be just as happy to read them or listen to them.
I would not say it was edge of the seat, but the plot was one that was very intriguing! Crombie wrote this on several entwined levels. She interspersed the history--and ultimate destruction--of the Crystal Palace in London in and out of the back story of characters whose lives had connected such, that over time, a form of destruction which had been building among them was almost inevitable.
In this unfolding--one witnesses the connections and ultimate destruction of a set of people whose lives came together seemingly by chance--but who would remain emotionally connected for many years into the future (that is, the present day). Which, of course, is when the mystery is taking place.
What I especially liked was the way the three layers of story moved in and out leading the reader to the conclusion--along with Gemma, Melody (and Kincaid--though he was more involved in their personal story than as a detective in this book) to the ultimate end. And it was more than just solving a mystery--it was an ending that brought all the pieces of the earlier story together and brought their connections to a different place as well.
At first I couldn't decide--he has a nice warm, mellow sort of voice--one that almost lulled me rather than evoking that kind of inner excitement that goes with a good mystery. By the end of the book, however, I felt that his voice and his reading had been a very good choice. Because it was perfect for the revelation (as the back story) of the lives of very flawed people who had found each other (for good, for bad, for disaster) and become inextricably connected to each other--something told with the sound of great compassion (even for those who proved to be less than likable).
I felt that there were several less prominent issues in the story of the lives of Gemma and Kincaid that were left unfinished--or that of some of the people around them. But I assume we can look forward to learning more about all that in the next book--which I await with pleasure!
This writer has done a very good job of creating good mysteries and weaving in credible and engaging stories of the main characters--that stand on their own merits. Some mysteries seem to have background asides of the main characters' lives as sort of "filler" material. But a few do a wonderful job of making the reader feel really connected to them as people who live lives apart from their detecting--and one wants to read the next book just to find out what is happening there.
Deborah Crombie just cannot write fast enough!
- Janet H. Maddox