Crombie, Deborah. The Sound of Broken Glass.

NY: Morrow, 2013.

This author’s latest, the fifteenth in her generally first-rate series about Detective Superintendent Duncan Kincaid of Scotland Yard and his wife, DI Gemma James, shows her very much at the top of her game. I only discovered Crombie a year or so ago, so I was able to read my way through the whole series in short order, which made it obvious just how much her work has matured.

The venue this time (there’s a new one in every book) is the south London community of Crystal Palace, where the original enormous structure from the 1851 exhibition was moved to and rebuilt on an even larger scale, and where it burned to the ground in 1936. (Which means the Crystal Palace has now been gone for almost as long as it once existed.)

Andy Monahan, now in his late twenties and a very talented guitarist, grew up in Crystal Palace, trying hard as an adolescent to look after his alcoholic mother. It was only the quiet friendship of the young widow next door that kept him sane sometimes. He’s getting by with session work but now his manager has gotten him matched with a young female singer and bass player and the creative sparks are flying.

While this is going on, a rather unpleasant barrister has turned up bound and strangled in a seedy hotel in the area and Gemma, in her first high-profile solo case, has been set to tracking down all the clues, uncovering the relationships, and discovering the motive that might lead her to the killer. Duncan, meanwhile, has taken “family time” from his job to look after Charlotte, the three-year-old they’re fostering from a couple of books back. He’s not supposed to be messing around in Gemma’s case, naturally, but as it happens he knows both Andy and his manager, also from a previous case. (As someone in the story remarks, the “six degrees of separation” game works in London, too.) And then there’s a second murder, very similar to the first one, and certain people appear to have been involved with both victims.

It’s a complex plot but Crombie has it under control. She casts a few obvious red herrings, but even though you’ve dismissed them as being too obvious, you’ll find yourself reconsidering the possibilities later on. This is one of the best in the series so far. And, without giving anything away, I will also say that Kincaid’s professional future may suddenly be in doubt, though we’ll have to wait for the next book to find out how. (Damn cliff-hangers. . . !)

Published in: on 25 June 2013 at 8:37 am  Leave a Comment  
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