Crombie, Deborah. A Finer End.

NY: Bantam, 2001.

Superintendent Duncan Kincaid of Scotland Yard gets caught up in the strangest cases. This time he’s off to Glastonbury, center of New Age mysticism in Britain, to help his cousin, Jack, sort out a hit-and-run in which the local (female) vicar was nearly killed.

Meanwhile, Sgt. Gemma James is due for a promotion and so she’s off on a training course and reappears shortly as a newly-minted Detective Inspector. Kincaid is pleased for her, and knows she deserves the promotion, but at the same time, he’s upset at the effective dissolution of their investigative partnership. He knows that’s selfish, but he’s gotten used to things. Happily, he persuades Gemma to take a few days off and join him. All of which is fine, and it leads into a nicely complex plot, the roots of which go back not only into the 1970s but even to the 11th century. Glastonbury Abbey (reputedly the burial place of King Arthur) and Glastonbury Tor (supposedly the landing place of Joseph of Arimathea two thousand years ago) make for a nice, romantic locale and many of the local residents are people who came for a visit years ago and never left. And it becomes one of those cases in which old conflicts and old scores to settle reappear in modern guise, which is also fine — but then Crombie kind of loses control. Having her characters, some of them, believe in automatic writing and ghosts and Dark Powers is one thing; there are a lot of peculiar people like that in the world. But postulating such things to the reader as an objective reality is something else entirely. Would a couple of hard-nosed coppers like Kincaid and Gemma really buy into that? I really, really doubt it. And that assumption on the author’s part rather spoiled this book for me, even while I enjoyed the interplay among her as-always strong characterizations.

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Published in: on 27 December 2012 at 6:32 pm  Leave a Comment  
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