Brought to you by OBS reviewer Daniele
Recently transferred to the London borough of Camden from Scotland Yard headquarters, Superintendent Duncan Kincaid and his new murder investigation team are called to a deadly bombing at historic St. Pancras Station. By fortunate coincidence, Melody Talbot, Gemma’s trusted colleague, witnesses the explosion. The victim was taking part in an organized protest, yet the other group members swear the young man only meant to set off a smoke bomb. As Kincaid begins to gather the facts, he finds every piece of the puzzle yields an unexpected pattern, including the disappearance of a mysterious bystander.
The bombing isn’t the only mystery troubling Kincaid. He’s still questioning the reasons behind his transfer, and when his former boss continues to avoid him, those suspicions deepen. With the help of his former sergeant, Doug Cullen, Melody Talbot, and Gemma, Kincaid begins to untangle the truth. But what he discovers will leave him questioning his belief in the job that has shaped his life and his values and remind him just how vulnerable his precious family is. (from the book flap)
DSI Duncan Kincaid is trying to adjust to his new position away from Scotland Yard in Camden and his new coworkers. His new second in command Jasmine Sidana, disgruntled and believing she should have Kincaid’s job, is particularly thorny. His new team is quickly put to the test when they are called to investigate an explosion, possibly a terrorist bombing, at nearby St. Pancras Station. Kincaid’s wife Gemma’s second in command Melody happens to be at the station attending her boyfriend’s concert when a man is consumed by fire. Unfortunately, the victim is beyond saving. She immediately steps into police mode and does what she can to evacuate the bystanders and attend to the injured, one of which is a family friend and her boyfriend’s manager.
After it is determined that the explosion was an isolated incident and not a terrorist act, the investigation falls to Kincaid. Preservation activists were protesting the building of the Crossrail tunnels at the station and, hoping to gain attention from the media covering the concert, had intended to detonate a smoke bomb, not the lethally dangerous white phosphorus grenade that exploded instead. It is initially thought that the victim was a member of the group named Ryan Marsh, a man who has no record of existence. All of the members of the group are worth investigating, especially the leader Matthew – where did he get the money to support the group? Did he swap the smoke bomb for the grenade? When it is determined that the victim is not Ryan but another member of the group, Kincaid calls upon Melody and his former sergeant Doug to covertly investigate Ryan. The deeper they dig, the more lies they discover, the more questions they have. Did Ryan switch the bomb with the intention to kill Paul? Did someone else switch it with the intention to kill Ryan?
Gemma is working on an investigation of her own, the grisly abduction, rape, and murder of a twelve year old girl. She has a prime suspect but is having trouble proving his guilt. In addition, she and Kincaid have a family to care for, including a rescued cat and her newborn kittens. Things become especially tense when Kincaid’s investigation hits a little too close to home, and his son feels threatened. There are many layers to the mysteries here, and though solved, there are plenty of loose ends left to explore in future installments, including somewhat of a cliffhanger ending.
This is the sixteenth entry in a long running English police procedural series, but my first foray into Kincaid and Gemma’s world, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I am sure I would have benefitted from reading the earlier mysteries, but the author did a good job of explaining things without rehashing all of the other books, and I had no trouble following along. The characters are well drawn and complexly human. They have real lives with real day to day problems, and I felt I was part of their inner circle of friends and family. The pacing is good, and Ms. Crombie writes vivid descriptions of the setting and atmosphere. It seemed like I was there in the rail station when the bomb exploded, almost able to smell the smoke and experience the bystanders’ fear. She alternates the stories to great effect, and there is tension throughout although the bits about their family allow for lighter moments.
Again, I found this novel quite entertaining and zi highly recommend it to any fans of procedural mysteries and all things Anglophile.