14 October 2010

Review: NECESSARY AS BLOOD, Deborah Crombie

published William Morrow, 2009
ISBN 978-0-06-128753-4
378 pages
borrowed from my library

#13 in the Duncan Kincaid / Gemma James series.

Publisher's Blurb
Now the hippest neighborhood in London; historic Brick Lane in the East End is known as much for its delicious curries as its vintage clothing boutiques, its fashion designers, and its avant-garde artistic community.
But as always with revitalization and influx of wealth, there comes a clash of cultures, and the dark side of change. Artist Sandra Gilles has made a name for herself and a secure place for her mixed-race family in this vibrant community. But then Sandra disappears without a trace, leaving behind her three-year-old daughter, and her shocked and grieving husband is the prime suspect. When he vanishes as well, lives are shattered, bringing Gemma James and Duncan Kincaid into an examination of the terrible and irreparable consequences of greed and temptation--and into a case that will change their own family forever.

The action in NECESSARY AS BLOOD plays out against a very rich background that includes not just the disappearance of a young mother, and then the death of her husband three months later, but also the ongoing stories in the lives of Scotland Yard detectives Gemma James and Duncan Kincaid, their families and friends, as well as those they work with.

Blended in with those stories are the changes happening in one of London's oldest communities, where old buildings are being refurbished and repurposed, new families move in, right alongside those who have little.

Very readable, but I find it hard to assess how much my enjoyment was dependent on having known some of the back story from an earlier novel (#11) WATER LIKE A STONE reviewed some time ago. See my mini- reviews below. You'll see that NECESSARY AS BLOOD is actually the 5th title that I've read in this 13 title series, so I guess in some ways that speaks for itself. I have decided that I need to track down #12.

My rating: 4.6

In the edition of NECESSARY AS BLOOD a detailed map was provided as part of the end papers. It showed quite clearly the confined locale in which the action takes place.

NECESSARY AS BLOOD nominated for Macavity Best Novel 2010
Deborah Crombie's website
Read the first chapter online


A FINER END, #7, my rating 4.3
Jack Montfort is an architect living in Glastonbury, England. He has struck up a friendship with Winnie Catesby, the vicar of an outlying church. Jack has become a conduit for ""automated writing"" - someone, a dead priest called Edmund, is using Jack to convey to the present a story from the past to do with the Abbey at Glastonbury.  It is not the first example of automated writing linked to the old Abbey. It happened to a 19th century historian too and he was totally discredited. But now those associated with Jack are in danger. Winnie is struck by a car and lies in hospital in a coma. Jack doesn't believe it was an accident and contacts his cousin Scotland Yard's Duncan Kincaid. Duncan and his partner Gemma James decide to spend a few days in Glastonbury and the action accelerates. I wasn't prepared for the woo-woo nature of the first part of this book but really enjoyed it after Kincaid and James make their appearance. The presentation of Glastonbury as a gateway to the next world and a portal to old religions is also interesting. This is #7 in the series.

NOW MAY YOU WEEP, #9, my rating 4.4
DI Inspector Gemma James is taking a trip to the Highlands with her friend Hazel. The purpose is a relaxing weekend at a Scottish B& B that offers cooking classes. The trip is not what Gemma thinks it is. Hazel says that it is to give Gemma a rest, but Hazel has another agenda: to meet up with Donald brodie, a lover whom she nearly married over a decade ago, and the manager of a whisky distillery. This is another book that has two stories told in parallel. There is one in italics that is placed in Carnmore, November 1898 and the present day one involving the current generation of the same family,  Hazel's family, the Urqharts. This is the 9th in Kincaid & James series and the book explores the relationships in Gemma James and Duncan Kincaid's personal life as well as unravelling the mystery revealed by the murder of Donald Brodie, finally uncovering a secret hidden for over a century.

IN A DARK HOUSE, #10, my rating 4.8
An abandoned warehouse burns next door to a women's shelter for victims of spousal abuse, an apparent case of arson. But it is the charred corpse within -- a female body burned beyond all recognition -- combined with the political sensitivity of the case, that entangles Superintendent Duncan Kincaid in its twisted skein.
At the same time, Kincaid's lover and former partner, Gemma James, is coping with twin crises of her own, one personal and the other professional. Gemma must put her private concerns aside to investigate the disappearance of a hospital administrator, a beautiful, emotionally fragile young woman who vanished without a trace. Yet neither Gemma nor Kincaid realizes how closely their cases are connected -- or how important the resolutions will be for a young child who was a victim of parental abduction.
In an old, dark, rambling house, nine-year-old Harriet worries about her feuding mum and dad, her friends, her schoolwork. Most of all, she worries about the strange woman who is her only companion in this scary, unfamiliar place. The events that led her there happened too quickly and are too complicated for a child to fully comprehend. But despite her youth and innocence, Harriet's awful fears will not be silenced: that she may never see her parents again ... and that her own life is in serious peril.
I liked the way you get an in depth view of characters other than Kincaid and James - Rose the firefighter, Kincaid's sergeant Cullen, the locum priest Winnie, Fanny the young Asian woman fighting a debilitating disease. Lots of lovely strands all meshed together in  a plausible yarn.


Jose Ignacio Escribano said...

Kerrie, thanks for showing us this new to me author/series. They look quite interesting.

Margot Kinberg said...

Kerrie - Thanks for this review. I like Deborah Crombie, too, so I understand what you mean about tracking down books you haven't read yet. This is actually one I hadn't read, so it was nice to get your take on it.

SueH said...

Why can I download all of Deborah Crombie's books except "Necessary as Blood"? When I go to Amazon it says not available readers in Australia. Bizarre when all the rest of the series is? Can you explain? It's the only one I haven't read and I am really enjoying her books!

SueH said...

I have tried to download "Necessary As Blood" to my kindle but when I go to Amazon it says not available Australian readers. Bizarre whe the rest of the series is! How did you get it? I have read all the rest and really want to read this one as I am loving her books! Thanks

Kerrie said...

Probably just something to do with the original publishing agreement and geographical restrictions Sue. Very frustrating sometimes.

Kerrie said...

I got my copy from my local library Sue


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