Nominated for an Edgar, Deborah Crombie's 1997 Dreaming of the Bones was such a triumph in all respects that it's a hard act to follow. Kissed a Sad Goodbye, Crombie's sixth book about Scotland Yard's Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James, isn't quite as spectacular as her previous rendition. Still, the author who creates her very British world from a town in North Texas has managed to come up with an entirely respectable and highly enjoyable effort. Her story offers a fascinating setting in place of the poignant, personal drama that invigorated Dreaming of the Bones.
The body of a lovely young woman is found in London's fashionable Docklands area. She turns out to be Annabelle Hammond, the director of an old family firm of tea merchants. She was a woman of tremendous talent and sexual appetite, but also the kind of harsh and abrasive personality that provides plenty of motives for murder. The Hammond family is also historically linked to the self-made property developer Lewis Finch and his son, an activist dropout and street musician. The other suspects include a spineless boyfriend who works at the tea firm, a secretary too loyal to be true, and herrings of various shades of crimson. Kincaid and James have to solve it all, even as their own personal problems threaten to intrude. Thanks to Crombie's enviable ability to bring people and places to life with a single phrase, the story zips along like the new Docklands electric railroad.
Previous Kincaid-James books in paperback include Dreaming of the Bones, All Shall Be Well, Leave the Grave Green, and Mourn Not Your Dead. --Dick Adler [via]