Crombie, Deborah. To Dwell in Darkness.

NY: HarperCollins, 2014.

This is the sixteenth installment in a generally pretty good police procedural mystery series with a British setting, even though it’s written by someone living in McKinney, Texas (not far from my old home). On the last page of the previous volume, Detective Superintendent Duncan Kincaid (who is now married to DI Gemma James, who used to be his sergeant) came back from paternity leave to find his office at Scotland Yard cleared of all his belongings and his usually supportive boss, the chief superintendent, disappeared.

I hate cliff-hangers, especially when you have to wait a year or more for the next installment to find out what happened. Well, Duncan has been demoted to Camden (though he kept his title), so now he’s in charge of a full-dress homicide team — all of them strangers, since his hand-picked subordinates were all transferred, too.

His patch includes St. Pancras Station, the epitome of Victorian Gothic architecture, the hotel of which has only recently been completely renovated. And a small environmental protest group is taking advantage of the opening of a music festival to try to get themselves on the telly. To draw attention, one of their number rather stupidly sets off what they think is a smoke bomb — but it turns out to be toxic white phosphorus instead and one protestor is dead in a particular grisly fashion. Several of Duncan’s friends are happenstantially involved and one of them is seriously injured. (Lots of coincidences in Crombie’s books.)

Kincaid is on the scene in minutes and it’s the beginning of a nicely detailed investigation into possible terrorism, possible involvement by the security services (who don’t have to obey the law if they don’t feel like it), and the internal dynamics of the protest group itself. Interviews lead to inconsistencies, the identity of the dead man is in doubt, and new suspects and witnesses keep popping up. Crombie handles it all very well.

Gemma meanwhile has her own rape-and-murder case to deal with, but it definitely takes a back seat. (Actually, it could have been omitted altogether, but then there would be no way to involve her in the story as an actual cop, as opposed to sidekick wife and mother.) Their family and how it grows and develops has always been part of each book, too — often an important part — and that segment involves cats and kittens. But then we’re left with another last-page cliffhanger and we don’t even have a solution to the previous one! The characters, both old and new, are well drawn and the resolution is exciting and plays fair with the reader — but Crombie had better answer some of the outstanding continuing questions in the next volume.

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Published in: on 9 July 2015 at 4:03 am  Leave a Comment  
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