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Crombie's "No Mark Upon Her"

April 20, 2012 - Jodelle Greiner
Deborah Crombie is one of my favorite authors. I have to read her books as soon as they come out; one of only a few authors for whom I make that kind of effort. She writes the Kincaid/James mysteries, which revolve around two British police officers, Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James. So far, there are 14 novels in the series, the latest of which is “No Mark Upon Her.”

Duncan is called in on a case involving a body found in the River Thames. The victim is Rebecca Meredith, who was an Olympic-caliber rower while at university some years ago and she was training to make another run at it. Becca was also an efficient, but not well-liked police detective and the higher-ups want to know why someone would want to kill her.

Gemma gets involved in Duncan’s case when an investigation of hers crosses paths with Becca’s murder. The more they investigate, the more in danger they get. Their bosses pressure them to keep the reputation of the police in mind, but Duncan thinks that may mean arresting an innocent man.

The duo find out that Becca knew secrets someone would kill to keep quiet... and her killer might not be finished.

Crombie writes complicated stories that tend to mix the present with history and she puts them together in such a way you’re never overwhelmed or confused. I challenge anyone reading her stories to try to figure out who did it before it’s revealed; she regularly pulls surprises out of her hat, but she’s always careful to lay the groundwork so it makes sense in the end.

A native Texan, she visits England a few times a year to give the reader a real sense of place, right down to the language. (In England, “cookies” are “biscuits”, for instance.) For Crombie, the streets of London and the English countryside are as much a part of the story as her characters. I always feel as if I’ve taken a trip to England after reading one of her novels. I read these books as much for the feeling they evoke from the cadence of Crombie’s writing as for the well-written mysteries.

Read this series from the beginning in “A Share in Death” and grow along with the characters’ relationships. Crombie always adds something to the characters’ lives in each book, but never lets them become unrecognizable from one novel to the next.

If you want a mystery series you can get lost in, take a trip to England with Duncan, Gemma and Deborah Crombie.


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