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by Deborah Crombie
Bantam Books, June 2003
397 pages
ISBN: 0553579304

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

There are lots of changes in the lives of the police detective duo Gemma James and Duncan Kincaid in this eighth episode in the series. Gemma has a new job as Inspector in Notting Hill, and moves into a new rented flat in the same area with Duncan Kincaid and their children from previous relationships. She has to cope with new work responsibilities such as managing a resentful older male subordinate, at the same time as wondering how to tell her superiors that she's expecting a baby.

And she soon finds herself investigating a murder, hardly the ideal way to meet your new neighbours. Dawn Arrowood was the wife of a successful businessman. There seem to be quite a few potential suspects including husband Karl Arrowood, and a lover, Alex Dunn, who runs an antiques stall in Portobello Market, but it's hard to find evidence to substantiate a case for the most obvious theories. Then Duncan Kincaid notices parallels between Gamma's case and one of his, and starts pursuing his own line of investigation.

Interwoven with the present day investigation scenes is a subplot strand set some years before, about a young woman known as Angel, and I enjoyed gradually piecing together where this fitted in and trying to work out how this would be brought together with the police's findings. I found it easy enough to follow though some readers might find the pages of italics irritating.

In this book we are introduced to quite a cast of interesting characters, and I hope some of them turn up again in future books. I also liked the mixture of professional and personal lives and of different storylines coming together. And I liked the method that the author uses to show the contradictory aspects of her setting, the interesting character that draws people to live there with some of the darker aspects of inner city life. Each chapter is prefaced with a paragraph from a non-fiction work about Notting Hill in the Sixties by Charlie Phillips and Mike Phillips. This reminds us that Notting Hill is not just the yuppie district shown in the film named after the area but a multiracial area with a mixture of poverty and wealth.

I'm looking forward to catching up with Gemma and Duncan again in the next book, due in the autumn.

Reviewed by Luci Davin, July 2003

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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