Friday, December 04, 2020

A Share in Death - Deborah Crombie

Deborah Crombie’s 1993 A Share in Death is the author’s introductory novel in what is now her 18-book “Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James” series. I was particularly late in discovering the series for myself, and only started reading it when the cover of No Mark Upon Her managed to catch my eye in a bookstore toward the end of 2011. I’ve now read almost all of the novels that followed that one, but I’m just now going back to pick up the series from the beginning. As it turns out, though, I’m happy it worked out that way — for a reason I’ll explain a little later.


Most of you know that Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James work for Scotland Yard. When this first book begins, Kincaid is a Superintendent there and Sergeant James reports directly to him. Most of you know, too, that the two will ultimately get together and raise a remarkable family of their own. Just be aware that they are nowhere near that point in their lives — and that they don’t make much progress in that direction — in A Share in Death. 


As the novel begins, Duncan is about to begin a vacation at a small luxury timeshare hotel courtesy of a cousin of his who could not be there himself for his scheduled week. Duncan  prefers to keep as low a profile as possible among his fellow guests, so he does not introduce himself to anyone as a policeman. Thanks to a chatty staff member, though, he still learns the backgrounds of most of the other guests before actually meeting them because the others are well-known regulars  to hotel staff. Duncan’s anonymity comes to a quick halt the next morning, however, when a dead body is discovered by two children in the hotel’s whirlpool bath. Local authorities are ready to write off the death as a suicide, but Duncan doesn’t believe that is what happened. Soon, he is butting heads with local investigators while using Gemma to run down leads that he develops while digging into the backgrounds of his fellow guests. 


Bottom Line: A Share in Death is a good, solid introduction to the Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James characters. It establishes that Duncan is an attractive young investigator whose career is still on the rise, and that although he is still single, his head is relatively easily turned by the women he encounters. Gemma, on the other hand, has already been through a relationship that resulted in the toddler son she is now raising on her own. The two do not see each other face-to-face here until perhaps the last ten percent of the book, so readers are given no real reason to suspect their eventual union other than the fact they each seems to much admire the investigatory skills of the other. The mystery at the core of the book is the classic “closed door” kind of tale in which a murder is committed by one of a very limited number of potential suspects. Crombie handles it all competently enough, but I doubt I would have gone looking for other books in the series if I had started with this one. And…that is why I’m happy that I started out with book number 14 rather than book number 1. 

6 comments:

  1. I sort of wish I might have done it the same way. I read this first book in April and while I liked it, I haven't rushed off to find more. I must do so next year as several blogging friends, including yourself, love the later books and I know from experience that many writers take 5 or 6 books before they really get into their stride with a series.

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  2. I'm really all over the place with this series, Cath. I've not read books 1, 2, 9, 10, 14, 15, 16, and 18. By book 9, and I'm sure a good bit before that, the series had developed into the kind of series I enjoy most - those where the characters become more important than the mysteries themselves. The first two are just not all that impressive - but even the second one is much better than this first one.

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  3. I barely remember the first books! I know I haven't read them all, I have been trying to keep up with the new ones each year.

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    1. The first two, honestly, are not all that memorable anyway, Jen. :-)

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  4. Good to know that this series gets better and better as it goes along. And also that you don't have to start with the first one! :D

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    1. That doesn't always work out, but this time there's not a whole lot you learn about the two main characters that you won't pick up on immediately in books a little farther down the line.

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