William Morrow, ISBN 978-0061990632
(February 19, 2013, 368 pages
The Crystal Palace, a glass building originally built for the Great Exhibition of 1851, was once a glorious site, a world famous landmark. Now, the building is long gone, burned in a memorable fire, leaving just a park and a name for a neighborhood of London that has seen better days. The sort of neighborhood where finding a dead body in a rather seedy hotel is not that unusual. Still, the way this body is trussed up, the circumstances of his death, is not something police often see and the fact that the victim is a prominent lawyer raises the bar. Is it some sort of kinky sex game gone bad, especially since the lawyer was last seen leaving a neighbor bar with a woman?
It is not clear at first just what they have here. That is until the second victim, another lawyer, turns up killed in the exactly the same way, this time in his home. What ties these men together..and who might be the next victim?
Investigating the crimes will be Scotland Yard DCI Gemma James, with a little input from her husband, also a Scotland Yard detective. Duncan Kincaid, in this, the 15th book in the series, is manning the home front, on leave from work until they can get the latest member of their household, foster child Charlotte, settled in preschool. With Charlotte's history, which is briefly mentioned, that is not too easy. But Duncan is a resourceful man, able to give some unofficial help in the case, while working things out at home as well. Even if he is getting a little desperate to get back to work.
Wait, did I say 15th book?
Do you have to go back and read the previous 14 first?
No, although it is an excellent series and once you read one you will want to read more. Personally, I have not read them all and the ones I have read have been out of order and oddly, that has not been a problem.
|The Crystal Palace|
I say oddly because while James and Kincaid and a reoccurring cast of characters are key to the success of these books, the author is able to fill us in quickly with what we need to know about their history. And oddly because a character they have met before, in connection with another murder, guitarist Andy Monahan, is a key player (no pun intended) this time around. His sad and moving backstory, growing up right in the middle of Crystal Palace, the fact that he may have gotten in a fight with one of the victims in a pub the night he died, not to mention his romance with James' second in command, Detective Sergeant Melody Talbot, will keep him front and center. Oh, I don't think DS Talbot should be involved with someone who might be the next victim..or even worse, the murderer.
The plot is solid and interesting and how it all weaves together, with the introductory paragraphs about the history of the Crystal Place and several sub-plots, is all very clever. Read those parts about the Crystal Palace carefully and you might pick up a clue to two to the present day mystery. At worst, they are interesting all on their own. And of course, we have the relationship of James and Kincaid and their blended family, always worth reading. They are very likable, with a realistic marriage, trying to balance home and work, and some great co-workers and friends. Poor Duncan plays a bit of a secondary role in this book perhaps, but he still makes his presence known. And someone has to work out wee, sweet Charlotte's future while his wife is out catching killers.
Unlike some series that might be running out of gas by the 15th installment, this one, without question, is still going strong. This one is as good as any in the series and, as I am sure fans will agree, I hope Crombie keeps turning out these excellent and very enjoyable reads.
My thanks to Amazon Vine and the publisher for providing a review copy of this book.