Crombie, Deborah. No Mark Upon Her.

NY: Bantam, 2012.

Like most authors of popular mystery series, Crombie has been getting out a new book every year for some time now. This time fans of the detecting adventures of Superintendent Kincaid and DI Gemma James had to wait three years — but it was worth it. (And time doesn’t move at the same rate as in the outside world, however, or Kincaid’s son, Kit, would be at university by now.)

The background this time (there’s always a new one) involves the very narrow world of elite rowing on the Thames, as practiced at Oxford and Cambridge, and its center at Henley — specifically at the Leander Club, the most prestigious rowing organization in the Western world, where teams are preparing to compete for a chance in the London Olympics. One of the most talented single-scullers, though she’s getting a bit older now, is Becca Meredith, who is also a DCI in the Metropolitan Police. She’s trying to decide whether to go all-out for the British team, because it probably would require resigning from her job. Becca’s not the warmest person around but she’s greatly respected and she certainly didn’t deserve to be drowned. Naturally, when a somewhat senior copper is murdered, especially a female officer, Scotland Yard gets called in and that means Duncan Kincaid. But, as in all of Crombie’s plots, it’s a lot more complicated than that. There’s also a recently retired Assistant Deputy Constable with a very dark personal history which includes Becca, . . . and a number of others. There’s also Freddie Atterton, Becca’s ex-husband, with whom she’s still friendly, and who would do anything for her. And there’s the young rower who was psychologically damaged in Iraq and now is scraping by, repairing boats and working with his search-and-rescue dog. And all those connected threads bring Gemma into the story via her own investigation. Moreover, Kincaid is being warned off by his own superiors (can’t damage the image of the force, after all), which could mean serious trouble for both of them.

Crombie’s readers have come to know the large cast of supporting players well and they provide a number of continuing story-lines, too. As does Charlotte, the newest addition to their mix-and-match family. There’s a fair amount of brutality involved this time but all of it is justified by the warped personalities involved. I have to say, the author has reached a level of considerable maturity in her writing. I’ll certainly be watching for the next entry in the series, but I hope it won’t take another three years.

Published in: on 31 March 2013 at 6:18 am  Leave a Comment  
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