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The Sound of Broken Glass: A Novel (Duncan Kincaid/Gemma James Novels) Hardcover – Deckle Edge, February 19, 2013
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Author One-on-One: Deborah Crombie and Elizabeth George
Elizabeth George is the bestselling author of sixteen suspense novels featuring Scotland Yard Inspector Lynley, including her latest,
Elizabeth George: In many ways, you and I are "working the same patch", so I'm curious about your methods. How did you balance internet research with on-site research for The Sound of Broken Glass?
Deborah Crombie: I try to get over to the UK (usually London) once or twice during the writing of every book. I search out obscure books on the setting and subject of the novel, and I also interview people who do what my characters do. For The Sound of Broken Glass I talked to working musicians, from street buskers to singers to record producers. But I do find that the internet is a good source for the small details that fill in the cracks and make everything just that much more vivid and interesting.
EG: For me, place becomes an element in my plot design. How did Crystal Palace influence your writing of the novel?
DC: A dear friend of mine moved to Crystal Palace a few years ago, and has been feeding me fascinating nuggets of Crystal Palace lore ever since. I found it really interesting that three distinct areas come together there, and yet its geographical isolation (the highest point in South London) sets it apart, giving it almost the feel of a village. And then there was the history of the Crystal Palace itself, and the atmosphere that still lingers even though the palace is gone. You could say that in a way, place becomes a character in the novel.
EG: We appear to have made a similar decision to allow our continuing characters to have lives that change and develop from one novel to the next , but you've done something additional that I find fascinating: using characters who've been in earlier books as part of the crime plot.
DC: Often even my minor characters introduce themselves to me towing a full backstory. It may not have anything to do with the book where they first appear, but when the time is right, I like to get back to them and tell their full stories. Continuing characters like Erica Rosenthal and Hazel Cavendish were part of Duncan and Gemma’s lives long before they became the center of their own books. Andy Monahan, the guitarist who is the primary character in Broken Glass, had very minor walk-on appearances in several previous books, and the more I saw of him the more I knew he had a story I wanted to tell. I was delighted to have the opportunity to bring him back for The Sound of Broken Glass.
EG: I take my novel through an almost Byzantine process with a number of intricate stages. Do you follow any particular process yourself?
DC: Byzantine is the word! I do research, take photos, walk the area for weeks on end, study maps (I love maps) read stacks of books, and do many first- hand interviews as I begin to shape my plot. Then I like to brainstorm with my long-time critique partners—who include people from law enforcement, medicine, and other writers— before I ever begin outlining the plot and journaling my ideas. I then do character histories, block out the predominant storylines (usually six to eight per novel) then work the events in the storylines into a chronological scene-by-scene outline. This preliminary work usually takes more time than the actual writing of the book. The first part is very left-brained, the actual writing seems to be more right-brained—something you and I have chatted about. I love the fact that we use similar methods, yet end up with wonderfully different books.
More About the Author
It was not until almost a decade later that, living once more in Texas and raising her small daughter, she had the idea for her first novel, a mystery set in Yorkshire. She had no credentials other than a desire to write and a severe case of homesickness for Britain. A Share in Death, published in 1993, was short-listed for both Agatha and Macavity awards for Best First Novel and was awarded the Macavity.
Crombie's fifth novel, Dreaming of the Bones, was a New York Times Notable Book in 1997, was named by the Independent Mystery Booksellers as one of the 100 Best Crime Novels of the Century, was an Edgar nominee for Best Novel, and won the Macavity award for Best Novel.
Subsequent novels have been published to critical acclaim and in a dozen languages. Crombie's fourteenth novel featuring Metropolitan Police detectives Superintendent Duncan Kincaid and Inspector Gemma James, No Mark Upon Her, will be published by Harper Collins in February 2012.
The author still lives in Texas but spends several months out of the year in Britain, maintaining a precarious balance between the two, and occasionally confusing her cultural references.
Top Customer Reviews
This one starts out as a case of a barrister found dead in a bed in a downmarket hotel--tied up, face-down and strangled. Another virtually identical murder occurs soon after. The victims had no known connections to each other, but each had had connections to the Crystal Palace neighborhood at one time or another. So, too, did the guitarist who'd been playing with his band at the pub where the first victim was last seen.
By coincidence, it turns out that Duncan, currently the stay-at-home dad, knows some of the key players in this case, and gets involved...secretly, because Scotland Yard does not allow married couples to work together. (I wonder how Crombie's going to deal with that as the series goes on--perhaps the answer's in whatever comes after that surprising last sentence on the last page.Read more ›
Sometimes coincidence plays a part in making all this work. And sometimes it plays much too big a part.
In her police procedurals set in England, Deborah Crombie has generally done an unusually good job of writing convincing and engaging mystery novels -- despite the fact that she's a native Texan and lives in a Texas town. On most of my previous excursions into the lives of Crombie's protagonists, Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James, I've enjoyed myself immensely. However, The Sound of Broken Glass is a disappointment.
This time, the culprit is coincidence.
In Broken Glass, Kincaid and James are married and raising three children (one of hers, one of his, and one adopted), and in ways that are clearly less than satisfying or convenient for them, their lives now revolve around the kids. Kincaid, a Detective Superintendant, is playing house-husband while James, promoted to Detective Inspector, chases murderers through the streets of London.Read more ›
After complaining that the previous entry in this series, No Mark Upon Her, was overstuffed with tangents and had way too much Charlotte, I have to say I thought the balance was so much better in this one. The pace was brisk - shifts between the backstory, the investigation, the domestic subplots and secondary characters were smooth and kept the story rocketing along. I don't think it's a place to start with the series - several people involved in the case are characters we've met previously, and why would a newcomer to the series care whether Doug ever gets his ceiling painted or about childcare arrangements? Series fans, however, won't find much to quibble with in this visit with the James/Kincaid ensemble. And Crombie's planted a teaser to make us anxious for the next book.
She keeps the reader mesmerized and guessing as she plants clues and weaves back and forth in time at a pace that is on the mark for this suspense filled whodunit set in London.
She paints a vivid tale that impacts the readers' senses. I could almost feel the February elements--moist fog, splashing rain, shivering snow and slippery ice--and uncomforting settings like being overdressed in an overheated space or rancid crime scene.
Andy Monahan was the victim of a pathetic childhood as a poor latch keyed kid and caretaker for his alcoholic mother until her death while being stalked and bullied by a set of sociopathic high society brats, Shaun Francis and Joe Peterson.
When the widowed, kind and beautiful school teacher, Nadine Drake becomes his friend and neighbor, Andy finally sees a ray of hope in his pitiful existence. She not only gave him adult encouragement, comfort and food, but also gave her deceased husband, Marshall's prized and expensive red Fender Stratocaster guitar to Andy and boosted his confidence by reveling in his music. That friendship was shattered too after Nadine was unjustly accused of a crime that ruined her reputation, caused her to be fired from her job and resulted in her moving and abruptly disappearing from Andy's life.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I have most of the series and love the character development. Deborah Crombie's series, (Ducan Kincaid) is best read in order. Read morePublished 1 month ago by karen bumpus
What? Another great novel, no surprise there. Crombie leaves us on another cliffhanger that makes us wait with bated breath until we get our hands on the next installment!Published 3 months ago by TexasMom
I have read all of the existing Deborah Crombie mysteries, and I can not wait until the next is published. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Kindle Customer
I enjoy watching the growth of Gemma and Duncan with their family as well as their detective work.Published 5 months ago by Gene Faxon
Well done who-done-it. Hard to put down. Will read more of this author's British detective series.Published 5 months ago by june brumm
Not too crazy about the visual content of deceased during the murders but Debra Combrie always solves the mystery in a great way. Read morePublished 6 months ago by janice Ridenour
This story was not blood and guts but one that took you through a detective story and a bit of the life of the detectives. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Bert
Every Duncan/Gemma book leaves me anxiously waiting for the next adventure and next chapter in their lives!Published 8 months ago by Judith Taylor