Mystery Books for Sale

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by Deborah Crombie
Avon Books, September 2003
259 pages
ISBN: 0060534389

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Duncan Kincaid needs a vacation, and his cousin has offered his week at a luxury time-share in Yorkshire to the hard working policeman. The relaxing holiday is cut short, however, when the assistant manager of the establishment is found electrocuted in the whirlpool, and Kincaid feels duty-bound to get involved in the investigation.

Of course, in a cliché of the genre, the local police official overseeing the case is obnoxious and incompetent and doesn't welcome Kincaid's intervention, but higher-ups in the chain of command force him to accept the assistance anyway.

It's clear from the beginning that one of the time-share's occupants is the murderer, and each is interrogated in turn. But with little evidence pointing to any individual, the investigation is stymied.

A second murder occurs and the plot creaks into overdrive. Suspects include the time-share manager who flirts with the guests, an MP with an alcoholic wife, two elderly sisters who may possess a dark secret, a scientist specializing in a rare disease, the father of a rebellious teenager, and an ex-army man. While all the guests have secrets of one kind or another, no one seems to have a motive for the murders.

Along the way, Kincaid calls in Gemma James, his sergeant, to help with the inquiries in this classic puzzle plot, and she adds a welcome touch of reality to the story.

The genuine talent Ms. Crombie evidences in her later books is apparent here. The writing is seemless, the characters are well drawn, and the protagonists are engaging.

The setting gave me pause, though. I didn't find anything particularly English in this book, and I'm not sure why she chose to place her series there. The narrative and characters are at odds with the Britain I know, and the effect is grating.

There is nothing particularly memorable about this book, but it is a quick, entertaining read that hints at the promise this author realizes in her later books.

Note: This is a reprint of the book that appeared in 1993.

Reviewed by Carroll Johnson, September 2003

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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