13 March 2011

Review: WHERE MEMORIES LIE, Deborah Crombie

Publisher: Harper Collins 2008
ISBN 978-0-06-128751-0
295 pages
Source: Local Library
#12 in the Duncan Kincaid /Gemma James series.

Reviews of previous titles:
4.8 WATER LIKE A STONE #11
4.6, NECESSARY AS BLOOD #13
see below also for some mini-reviews.

Blurb: (from author's website where an extract is available)

Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James find themselves drawn into a web of deceit and treachery that has its roots in the turmoil of 1939, as England and Germany hover on the brink of war. Gemma learns that her friend Erika Rosenthal lost a valuable brooch during her escape from Berlin, a piece made by her father, a noted Art Deco jeweler.

Now that heirloom has turned up for sale at a venerable London auction house, and Erika asks Gemma’s help in discovering its whereabouts for the last fifty years. But the past bleeds into the future when those connected with the brooch begin to die, and Gemma and Duncan learn that the long-ago unsolved murder of Erika’s husband has deadly repercussions in the present.

My take:
WHERE MEMORIES LIE lived up to my expectations of a good read. I confused myself just a little by having read a later title last year. If you are starting out, then do read some of the earlier titles in order. I don't think you necessarily have to read hem all  (I don't think I have) but certainly part of the pleasure is the ongoing story of Duncan and Gemma's family life.

I was struck also by the serendipity of the fact that I had so recently finished listening to SARAH'S KEY, which was also related to the persecution of the Jews during World War II.

Gemma James, perhaps more so than Duncan Kincaid, is a very believable character, and I identify with many of her concerns as she tries to maintain a career in the face of family responsibilities. In WHERE MEMORIES LIE her mother is admitted to hospital with a serious illness and her father takes his frustrations out on Gemma.

As I said earlier, a good read. One of the things that strikes me is how Deborah Crombie, an American author who admittedly spends a lot of of time in the UK, can write what feels such an authentically British crime novel. It is on the basis of that that I am counting the book in my list for the British Books Challenge.

My rating: 4.7

Duncan Kincaid / Gemma James (from Fantastic Fiction)
1. A Share in Death (1993)
2. All Shall Be Well (1994)
3. Leave the Grave Green (1995)
4. Mourn Not Your Dead (1996)
5. Dreaming of the Bones (1997)
6. Kissed A Sad Goodbye (1999)
7. A Finer End (2001)
8. And Justice There Is None (2002)
9. Now May You Weep (2003)
10. In a Dark House (2004)
11. Water Like a Stone (2006)
12. Where Memories Lie (2008)
13. Necessary as Blood (2009)
14. No Mark Upon Her (2011)

Mini-reviews

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. 

3 comments:

Margot Kinberg said...

Kerrie - Thanks for a fine review! I happen to like Deborah Crombie's work and you're quite right; her books really do have the "feel" of a British novel. Well-taken point about Gemma James' character, too :-).

Maxine said...

Actually I don't agree about the Britishness - this series is not as bad as Elizabeth George's off-key depiction of Britain, but it is not far behind. I liked the first few of the series which contained relatively uncomplicated plots/settings, but this factor (the silly ways of life that don't exist in reality, and mistakes about Britain, eg the one about the Scottish distilliary, and the overblown "romance thriller" aspects), have put me off.

Dorte H said...

I have her third book on my TBR, and as I am not really British, I´ll probably not notice the silliness ;)

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