#11 Duncan Kincaid/Gemma James British police procedural. It's Christmas, and Duncan and Gemma have both wangled time off so they can be off to visit Duncan's parents in Nantwich over Christmas week with their kids. It's a nerve-wracking time, as Gemma has only briefly met Duncan's mother (at his first wife's funeral!) and never his father, and is wondering how they will like her and how their odd, cobbled-together family will fit in.
But there's no time to really worry about it much; Duncan's sister Juliet, who recently started her own company doing building renovations, while breaking some concrete in a dairy barn on Christmas Eve just before she's set to leave to meet the family for dinner, discovers the long-dead body of an infant walled up inside. Before long, there's another (freshly murdered!) corpse, also found by a member of the Kincaid family, not far from the barn where the baby was found. Is there a connection? Family tensions run high as Juliet and her husband Caspar initiate a very public split, and Kit begins to realize how troubled his cousin Lally (Juliet and Caspar's daughter) is, and has been for some time, apparently.
Never mind that I spotted the bad guy early on--I love this series, and Crombie always seems to manage the right balance of police work with personal scenarios, and often a bit of social commentary or information about a given area or segment of the population as well. (In this book, the subculture of the boating community--people who live on boats and navigate up and down the rivers and canals--and how they live.) Very interesting, very well done, and I'm very much looking forward to her newest book.
This is the first book I've read in this series and by this author. It definitely left me wanting to go back and read the whole series. I thought the mystery part of the book was very good, lots of cliff hanger moments that kept me reading past my bed time. I also enjoyed the personal relationship between the 2 main characters and this is why I'd like to read more in the series. Also at the front of the book there is a map showing the location of the story, that's something I love.
First Line: Mist rose in swirls from the still surface of the canal.
Duncan, Gemma, the boys and the dog are all spending the Christmas holiday in Cheshire with Duncan's parents. Duncan has always spoken of growing up outside the town of Nantwich as though it were heaven on earth. London born and bred, Gemma's not so sure of this, and she's a bit nervous at meeting Duncan's parents and sister. However, they're barely have time to walk in the door and take off their coats before everything starts going pear-shaped.
Duncan's sister, Juliet, has begun her own business as a builder. Staying late one evening to finish up some tasks in an old barn she's renovating, Juliet discovers the mummified remains of an infant. The investigation calls to Duncan like the Pied Piper of Hamlin, and whenever "his whiskers start twitching", he can't resist leaving his family just to see how things are going. This soon wears thin with Gemma:
"Don't you even think about leaving me home like the little woman," she spat out. "I'm going with you, and you'd better not say one bloody word about it."
Duncan takes the hint... and then a woman living on a narrow boat in a nearby canal is murdered, and Duncan's family is in danger.
This is another wonderful entry in the series. It's almost impossible for me to leave these books alone. I want to read one right after the other as quickly as I can, but if I do that, I'll be caught up and waiting impatiently for the next to be published.
Crombie's plots are always layered and intricate. Once she hit her stride at about book #4, I just can't puzzle out whodunit ahead of time. But this series is much more than a collection of complicated plots. It's peopled by one of the absolute best cast of characters to be found anywhere in fiction. Duncan and Gemma's relationship feels like the real deal. Their son, Kit, could be a living, breathing teenager beset with all sorts of problems that are (eventually) dealt with in the best possible way. When I sit down to read one of these books, I'm smiling because I'm amongst friends who change, who make mistakes, who grow, and who don't live in a bell jar. These characters are just as apt to come to harm as any of us. Their creator doesn't shield them, just as we are not shielded.
Crombie spends a few months each year in the UK to research her books. For Water Like a Stone she researched life on the narrow boats and canals that crisscross the island. (A photo of the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct is to the left.) If you're anything like me, as you read this book, you're going to find yourself checking for the books she mentions, and firing up your search engines because it's a fascinating subject to weave into her story.
Only two books left before I'm completely caught up. I don't know whether to be happy or sad because it will be torture to wait for each book to be published! Do you have a series of books you feel passionately about?
Another good Kincaid/James title, this one involving Duncan's family. The characters and plots continue to be interesting, and I really appreciate Crombie's attention to the physical details of her settings. Love the bits in this one about the canals and narrow boats.
Bonnie V. (Bonbelle) - , reviewed Water Like a Stone (Duncan Kincaid / Gemma James, Bk 11) on
As usual, Geema and Duncan bring us into their lives both personal and professional. They make you feel as if you are with them throught all of their trials, tribulations and joys. I loved it as I love anything that Deborah Crombie writes.
I loved this book! There were quite a few story lines at first but they were all so interesting. It was hard for me to put it down. Many memories flooded back as the setting was Christmas and Gemma and Kincaid were visiting his family at his boyhood home. Other story lines involved how difficult it is to be a teenager and also that of families who struggle to make ends meet. Excellent book...
As usual Crombie doesn't disapoint. This was a well written suspenseful mystery that kept me guessing between 2 or 3 characters until the end. I loved meeting Duncan's family and seeing more of Kit's personality. Looking forward to reading the next one.