The life of Scotland Yard's Gemma James is changing in major ways--she's just been promoted to Inspector, she's pregnant, and she and her young son are about to move into spacious new digs with her lover, Detective Superintendent Duncan Kincaid. Then the beautiful young wife of a Portobello Road antiques dealer is murdered in the driveway of her Notting Hill home and the case lands in Gemma's disappearing lap. Dawn Arrowood, as Gemma soon discovers, was pregnant when she died, most likely by Alex Dunn, a porcelain dealer in Portobello Market whose disappearance after the murder makes him a prime suspect. But Gemma rules him out as the killer, focusing her investigation on Karl Arrowood, the dead woman's husband. When Karl is murdered, she's stymied, but then Kincaid's investigation into what may be a serial killer turns up a bizarre connection to Gemma's case and a link to Karl Arrowood's sideline as a drug smuggler. As usual, Crombie handles a complicated plot with style, providing enough twists and turns to hold the reader's attention while driving the narrative to a stunning conclusion. --Jane Adams
From Publishers Weekly
There's more truth than humor in Crombie's eighth thriller set in contemporary London. When someone does in Dawn Arrowood, the young, pregnant wife of a wealthy antiques dealer, in her soign Notting Hill home, Inspector Gemma James is put in charge of the investigation. Gemma's lover, Det. Supt. Duncan Kincaid, believes the murder is the work of a serial killer, but Gemma suspects the victim's husband, Karl Arrowood. Despite their combined efforts, the slasher strikes again. Fearful of igniting a new Jack the Ripper-style panic, Duncan and Gemma soon find themselves at odds when their investigations become linked in startling, unexpected ways, culminating in an exciting denouement with serious undercurrents. Crombie keeps the action moving throughout, providing a cook's tour of London, from Tower Bridge to Portobello Market, as well as plenty of gruesome detail ("Kincaid felt the bile rise in the back of his throat as he squatted, using his pocket torch to illuminate Dawn Arrowood's motionless form"). There's some amusing sociological commentary interspersed throughout, plus the occasional frisson ("A jogger brushed past, startling him a tall, slender, hooded figure. Alex felt a shock of familiarity, but when he turned, the man had vanished"). The result is a competently plotted, reasonably engaging mystery that blazes no new pathways, but keeps the reader involved all the way to its predictably sanguinary conclusion. (Sept. 3) FYI: The author has been nominated for Edgar, Agatha and Macavity awards. The Independent Mystery Booksellers Association named Crombie's Dreaming of the Bones one of the 20th century's best mystery novels.
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