Garden of Lamentations
Scotland Yard detectives Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James are drawn into separate investigations that hold disturbing—and deadly—complications for their own lives in this powerful mystery in the bestselling series.
On a beautiful morning in mid-May, the body of a young woman is found in one of Notting Hill’s private gardens. To passersby, the pretty girl in the white dress looks as if she’s sleeping. But Reagan Keating has been murdered, and the lead detective, DI Kerry Boatman, turns to Gemma James for help. She and Gemma worked together on a previous investigation, and Gemma has a personal connection to the case: Reagan was the nanny of a child who attends the same dance studio as Toby, Gemma and Kincaid’s son.
Gemma soon discovers that Reagan’s death is the second tragedy in this exclusive London park; a few months before, a young boy died in a tragic accident. But when still another of the garden residents meets a violent end, it becomes clear that there are more sinister forces at play. Boatman and Gemma must stop the killer before another innocent life is taken.
While his wife is consumed with her new case, Kincaid finds himself plagued by disturbing questions about several previous—and seemingly unrelated—cases involving members of the force. If his suspicions are correct and the crimes are linked, are his family and friends in mortal danger as well? Kincaid’s hunch turns to certainty when a Metropolitan Police officer close to him is brutally attacked. There’s a traitor in the ranks, and now Kincaid wonders if he can trust anyone.
As Gemma begins to see a solution to her case, she realizes she holds a child’s fate in her hands. Can she do the right thing? And can Kincaid rely on his friends, both inside and outside the Scotland Yard force, to stand beside him as he faces the deadliest challenge of his career?
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Scotland Yard detectives Gemma James and Duncan Kincaid share a marriage, three children, and a tendency to lose themselves completely in their work. In Garden of Lamentations, Deborah Crombie’s 17th novel starring James and Kincaid, the duo try to untangle two separate homicide investigations that hit a little too close to home. Crombie’s ease with her characters lets her toggle between their perspectives while maintaining a drum-tight plot. As the cases start to fray the detectives’ marriage, an authentic and compassionate domestic drama adds nuance to this well-paced murder mystery.
Det. Supt. Duncan Kincaid is still smarting from an unexplained reassignment and demotion, in bestseller Crombie's absorbing 17th novel featuring Kincaid and his wife, Det. Insp. Gemma James (after 2014's To Dwell in Darkness). He's also troubled by loose ends after a grenade attack and devastating fire at London's St. Pancras station and the cryptic utterances of his former boss, Chief Supt. Denis Childs. When Childs is attacked and sinks into a coma, Kincaid glimpses larger forces at work, sets out to unravel the mystery of Childs's past and the trail of police colleagues who ostensibly died by suicide, and fears for the safety of his family and his investigative teams of past and present. Meanwhile, Gemma looks into the case of a nanny murdered in a Notting Hill garden, which affects the lives of one of Gemma's friends and a ballet classmate of Gemma's son. Through several points of view, this multifaceted novel provides a sobering cautionary tale about the exploitation of idealism and the abuse of power. Seven-city author tour.
Garden of Lamentations
In most respects, I've found Deborah Crombie's latest mystery quite satisfying, especially in its disentangling of a conspiracy with deep and wide-spreading roots. Unfortunately, that narrative is far more interesting and suspenseful than the other story-line, about a murdered nanny.
I have one other, minor quibble about this series. Especially in the cases involving Gemma, who is quite a strong and likable character in general, Crombie spends an inordinate amount of copy describing the superficial details of the homes and clothing of even minor figures -- color schemes in every room, brand-name kitchen appliances, in fact brand-name-dropping everywhere, furniture styles, pictures on the walls. I feel like I've just been to a decorator's shop.
While an occasional visual can furnish a clue to character and motivation, Crombie's overuse tends to bury the plot in fabric swatches. The fact that this tic occurs primarily in scenes from Gemma's perspective also tends to trivialize her with old sexist messages (girls are just interested in clothes and decorating). Gemma deserves better.
This installment, paired with the previous three books in this series, are an exciting and well conceived read. Crombie almost lost me mid series, but I’m glad I checked back with her. Great plotting, characters who have developed as individuals and in relation to each other - terrific mysteries as a group. I couldn’t put it down.