To Dwell in Darkness is book number 16 in Deborah Crombie’s Duncan Kincaid/Gemma James series. It may be a bit difficult to believe that these fictional detectives have been around for that long already, but it is that very longevity that makes the series so appealing to longtime readers. Scotland Yard detectives Duncan Kincaid and his wife Gemma James live complicated personal lives centered on the logistics of making their blended family work, and things seldom stand still for them on the home front.
This time around, Duncan is dealing with his recent transfer from Scotland Yard headquarters in London to a new job in the borough of Camden. To all appearances, the transfer is a demotion in both status and responsibility, but because his old boss at the Yard is avoiding him, Duncan has never been given a proper explanation for the change. If that were not bad enough, Duncan misses his old team in London, and is finding it difficult to warm up to the team recently assigned to him in Camden. And unfortunately, the new team largely feels the same about Duncan.
But, when a bomb explodes in St. Pancras Station during the afternoon rush hour, Duncan and the new team, be they ready or be they not, must get to work. Luckily for Duncan, Gemma’s trusted friend and colleague, Melody Talbot witnesses the explosion and ensuing panic and becomes an integral part of the investigation. This allows Duncan to run two separate investigatory teams simultaneously (one official and one not), and he jumps at the opportunity even though this will leave him open to much second-guessing by his Camden staff.
Gemma, in the meantime, is managing an unrelated London investigation of her own that haunts her terribly. She feels certain that she has identified the brutal killer of a little girl, but she does not have the evidence necessary to prove her case. The killer seems to have thought of everything, but Gemma is relentless in her pursuit of the man.
As soon as Duncan, Gemma, and Melody learn that some of the victims are close friends of theirs, the investigation becomes personal – and, at the same time, more difficult. Not only are they charged with finding the group behind the bombing, they have to help their friends deal with its aftermath. Was this the work of a terrorist group, and will the group strike again, or is it simply an innocent protest gone bad? And what if it is a bit of both?
Crombie has another winner in To Dwell in Darkness. She significantly progresses the Kincaid/James family dynamic and, for that matter, the personal lives of all of her main characters in ways that are sure to please longtime fans of the series. And, in what I hope does not later prove to be a misstep, the author builds the novel to a rousing climax that ends with a dramatic cliffhanger leading directly to her next book. It is the direction that the cliffhanger seems to be taking the next book that makes me a bit uneasy - but knowing Crombie, she will prove me wrong for having doubting her.