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by Deborah Crombie
Avon, August 2005
336 pages
ISBN: 0060789557

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

One of the pleasures of following Deborah Crombie's Duncan Kincaid/Gemma James series is watching the evolving relationship of the two detectives. In this early entry, LEAVE THE GRAVE GREEN, they are still rather tentative with one another, since both have endured unpleasant divorces, and Gemma James is particularly worried about the implications of their relationship for her career.

Years before the novel begins, brother and sister Matty and Julia Asherton are out for a lark, when he falls into the river and drowns. The death hangs like a specter over the family for years, and it comes back to haunt them when Julia's husband, Connor Swann, is murdered and drowned in much the same place.

Kincaid is called into the case because of the prominence of two of the family members, both well-known in the world of opera. Sir Gerald Asherton continues to conduct, but Lady Caroline Stowe, his wife, gave up singing when Matty died and has turned her attention to teaching.

Kincaid and James's investigation uncovers a hornet's nest. Connor, the victim, an Irish charmer is exposed as both an adulterer and a compulsive gambler. Julia, his widow, a somewhat narcissistic artist, remains bitter at her husband's ongoing relationship with Sophie Doyle, whom he has set up in an apartment in London. The Asherton marriage was not always 'cakes and ale,' as Lady Caroline had an affair with trusted family friend Tommy Godwin, by whom she had a child.

Crombie's characters are, by and large, a sympathetic group, each Asherton family member grieving the deaths of Matty and Connor. Even at this early stage in her career, Crombie shows her skill in manipulating an intriguing plot, weaving in the world of opera with the 'offstage' losses of the Asherton family.

Kincaid is a vivid -- if flawed -- character. He almost succumbs to the charms of Sophie and does indeed succumb to the charms of Julia. The plot shows signs of Crombie's later skill, even if a few of the twists are a bit hard to believe.

Reviewed by Mary Elizabeth Devine, September 2005

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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