The murder at Holmbury St Mary was not one that Superintendent Duncan Kincaid of Scotland Yard would relish investigating. A man has been beaten to death in his own home. A man who just happened to be Commander Alastair Gilbert of the Metropolitan Police...
Only adding to Kincaid's problems are his tangled personal feelings for Sergeant Gemma James. And in an investigation of this importance neither can afford a breakdown in their relationship.
Combining subtle emotional nuances and psychological insights with the intricacies of police procedure, Deborah Crombie produces a powerful contemporary mystery in the classic tradition.
Sergeant Gemma James and Superintendent Duncan Kincaid reappear (after All Shall Be Well) in this finely tuned procedural that moves between the tidy village of Holmbury St. Mary and the gritty streets of London. Alastair Gilbert, a high-ranking police officer, has been bludgeoned to death in his home in Holmbury, and Scotland Yard's James and Kincaid are called in to aid the local authorities who, over time, prove to be both efficient and fallible. Suspicion immediately falls upon the fragile-looking widow, Claire Gilbert, who, along with her daughter Lucy, Gilbert's stepdaughter, discovered the body. Shrewd and methodical interviews with some of the town's citizens (the pubkeeper and his son; the vicar and doctor, both women; an engaging psychic) show that Claire and Lucy are held in high regard and suggest that more pertinent information might be found in London, where Claire's first husband had been killed in a hit-and-run accident some years earlier-a case in which Alastair had been an investigating officer. Ongoing complications in the evolving relationship between James and Kincaid add depth to the proceedings. With her meticulously, affectionately drawn cast, Crombie is closely attentive to every facet of the tiny village and demonstrates that if country life is clannish and inbred, the small world of the police force is much the same.