Trade Paperback, 384 pages
Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James Series #15
In the past. . .home to the tragically destroyed Great Exhibition, a solitary thirteen-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.My Thoughts:In the present. . .On a cold January morning in London, Detective Inspector Gemma James is back on the job while her husband, Detective Superintendent Duncan Kincaid, is at home caring 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 question everything they think they know about their world and those they trust most.
The Sound of Broken Glass by Deborah Crombie is highly recommended.
In London’s Crystal Palace area, Barrister Vincent Arnott is found murdered at the squalid Belvedere Hotel. Arnott, who was strangled, was left naked and trussed up in a compromising position. This is Gemma James' first case as a Detective Chief Inspector (DCI) for Scotland Yard's South London team. Detective Sargent Melody Talbot is back as Gemma's assistant in the investigation. In the meantime, Gemma's husband, Detective Superintendent Duncan Kinkaid, is currently on leave as a stay at home father for the children because the orphaned three year old they are hoping to adopt, Charlotte, needs some extra TLC.
Coincidence leads them to look into Andy Monahan, an up and coming guitarist who happened to be playing at the pub Arnott was last seen at the night before his murder. Arnott was seen exchanging angry words with Andy after Andy punched some loser who approached him in between sets. Melody feels an immediate attraction to Andy when she is sent to interview him. It also turns out that Duncan knows some of the players in the investigation. When another barrister is found murdered in exactly the same way, Gemma and Melody are scrambling to try and piece the clues of these cases together.
At the same time we are following the murder investigation in The Sound of Broken Glass, we are following Andy's past, when he was thirteen years old. He was a poor kid who had to take charge of his mother's wages or she would spend it all at the pub. He had to keep the house clean and make sure his mother went to work every day. His only joy was playing the guitar. Andy also had a couple of rich punks tormenting him, so he also had to watch out for them. When a young widow, Nadine Drake, moved in next door, he finally had an adult who cared about him. She encouraged him, made sure he ate and listened to him play.
Certainly Crombie is a seasoned writer and knows how to please her fan base with her fast paced police procedural series featuring Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James, and their cohorts. The novel sets up the suspense and complex plot wonderfully. This is the 15th novel in Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James Series, so if you haven't been reading the series you might be scrambling a bit to catch up. I have read one or two in the series (I can't remember which ones) so I had some background on the characters. I didn't find it terribly hard to figure out many of the connections between people and fill in missing background information. Or, alternately, it didn't seem to matter if I had the complete picture of all the interpersonal connections. I know I was missing some background stories.
I had one issue, which seems inconsequential, but after numerous times it was written it became annoying. During the investigation Gemma and Melody would pick up sandwiches or something to eat because they were always on the go and hungry. Inevitably Gemma would be described as nibbling her sandwich and never finishing it. For all the food they acquired because they were hungry, they were always nibbling, never eating. It was just too much nibbling for me. Or anytime Gemma or Melody got tea it was never finished. I promise I would not have looked down on any of the characters had they taken some hardy bites of a sandwich or even wolfed it down quickly. And please, drink that tea down. Fluids are important too.
Crombie leaves readers with a tantalizing mystery about the direction the next novel will take. To Dwell in Darkness is due to be released in September 2014.
Disclosure: I received an advanced reading copy of this book from HarperCollins for review purposes.