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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Review: 'To Dwell in Darkness'

To Dwell in Darkness
By Deborah Crombie
Crime fiction
September 2014
William Morrow
ISBN: 978-0062271600

When a mystery series has survived until its 16th book, it might be expected that it could be showing its age. Not in the case of the Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James mysteries by Deborah Crombie. To Dwell in Darkness is as engaging as any book in this series has been and, just as importantly, moves the characters to a place where a reader wonders what will happen next and how they will respond to whatever they are up against.

Kincaid and Gemma have gone from colleagues to friends to lovers to a married couple. Their family has grown to include Kincaid's son from an earlier marriage, who is now 14, her little son Toby and a foster daughter who they are looking to adopt. Both coppers loved their jobs. Kincaid at Scotland Yard has always been the model of a calm policeman who looks at the people he comes across in the murder investigations assigned to him. People have always mattered. Gemma James has grown from a single mother trying to make ends meet, doing well at a job she loves while insisting on putting her son first, into an even stronger police investigator and juggler of duties.

But now Kincaid has been reassigned from his beloved Scotland Yard and away from his trusted sergeant to another station. He's not sure of his new team any more than they are sure of him, including at least one highly wound woman who should have had a promotion to his job. Kincaid knows there's something going on behind the scenes, but exactly what and who is behind it remain as murky as ever. His wife also has a new assignment, but it's a plummy job, and her trusted number two, Melody Talbot. Kincaid wonders if this was done in part to keep him quiet.

In the midst of these musings and maneuverings, Melody is on the scene when a man bursts into flames and falls at St. Pancras station. The site is part of Kincaid's new posting in Camden, and he is confronted by an anti-terrorist officer who wants to make sure he isn't losing any turf in case this is more than the usual crime. People close to the continuing characters are affected by the incident, complicating their feelings about the investigation as well as their schedules.

Drawn into the investigation are a motley group of protestors who want London's historical buildings, including St. Pancras, preserved from exploitation by developers. They are camping out in the flat of their leader, which is located in a pricey building. Figuring out who these people are will go a long way toward solving who the person was that died in that fiery crash and why that person died.

What none of them realize is that part of solving what happened could led to what Kincaid and Gemma hold most dear -- their family. There also is the possibility that someone involved in this case may be involved in what has taken Kincaid away from Scotland Yard.

Nefarious doings by higher-ups and shadowy conspiracies can become tedious and drag down a series. But so far, Crombie has displayed a light touch with this part of the ongoing story. The unraveling of a crime and the ongoing stories of her continuing characters remain more important. That made To Dwell in Darkness a gripping novel that will leave readers more than willing to read the next one.

©2014 All Rights Reserved CompuServe Books Reviews and reprinted with permission

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