Kathleen D. (New Hampshire)
a student's choice---to row---defines a life
Deborah Crombie's 14th book in the Duncan Kincaid/Gemma James series is an absorbing, intelligent mystery that can stand alone. However, I particularly like the evolving characters Crombie has created in this chain of stories and really look forward to each novel. The author is very skillful at placing an engrossing crime in the middle of the characters' everyday lives. It reminds the reader that some detectives actually do have lives outside of their respective jobs.
In this specific entry, we consider women who are top ranking members of the British police force and how they cope with the pressures of sexism & police hierarchy as well as deal with their private lives.
The story opens with the haunting vision of a world class rower, poised in her single scull at dusk on the Thames River. The slim figure on a narrow strip of carbon fiber, virtually flying with the current down the river, seems almost ethereal. Then, in an instant, she hears a splash, someone call her name . . . and she is gone.
The rower, now a murder victim, was an Oxford graduate and a DCI of the London Metropolitan Police. And, for some questionable reason, Duncan's Chief Superintendent at Scotland Yard wants him to take charge of this case in Henley-on-Thames.
Crombie has peppered the story with several captivating suspects with story lines that intertwine throughout the book (NOT the convenient villain suddenly appearing in the last thirty pages!). She also introduces an obscure, but integral, element that piques curiosity---the rarefied world of elite rowers. Crombie's charm is attention to details which results in a story with a rich texture, intriguing characterizations, and diverse possibilities for a satisfying conclusion. Excellent!