'How pleasant it is to spend an evening in this way! I declare that after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! — When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.' No one made any reply. She then yawned again, threw aside her book, and cast her eyes round the room in quest of some amusement. — from Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen (1775-1817)
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March 31, 2013

Three Crombies in a row



Normally, the only reason that I'd be reading three books in a mystery series one after the other is because the series was new to me and after one book I'd fallen in love with it. {That happened with Louise Penny's books, for example.} But I've been reading Deborah Crombie's books about Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James since they first began {the newest one, The Sound of Broken Glass. is the 15th}, and I've grown to like them so much that I pre-order them from Amazon as soon as a new one is on the horizon.  But since buying a book I haven't read because I can't wait to read it is one of the best ways to ensure that I won't read it, I put The Sound of Broken Glass on reserve at the library instead, and then realized that I'd need to catch up before it arrived. Because this is definitely a series that is as much about the characters as the crime, and for that reason it's also one that wants to be read in order.  {But if you find yourself reading the new one, and then going back and reading the first fourteen, that's OK, too.}

Being two books behind means that it's been about three years since I read one of her books, and I 'm noticing things that I always knew and things that I didn't remember.  One of the wonderful things about this series is how likable, and real, the characters seem, and how much you come to want to know what happens to them. {That's not a very profound observation, I know, but still. In Necessary as Blood, they ... No, I won't ruin it for you, :)} I think one of the best things about Crombie's writing is that she works with layers and layers of small details -- clothing, weather, the color of a house, the furniture in a room, a meal, a gesture, an expression -- that makes it easy to know what Duncan and Gemma look like, what they see as they walk through their neighborhood, what their children will say or do next.  And even with all these details, the writing isn't overly narrated or descriptive. 

The other thing I noticed, especially in these last two books, is the chapter headings, with quotations from books that reflect the setting or the circumstances of the crimes.  In No Mark Upon Her, the setting is Henley, home of a famous rowing race, what starts everything going is the  disappearance of a high-ranking Scotland Yard officer who is also a champion rower hoping for a comeback, and the the quotations are from books about rowing and famous races. In Necessary as Blood, which came first, a young mother living in London's East End leaves her toddler with a friend and is never seen again, and some of the quotations were very intriguing, and almost poetic.  They were taken from a book titled 18 Folgate Street:  The Tale of a House in Spitalfieds, by Dennis Severs, and -- it's a book about a house, after all -- I wondered about it, and found it, and am looking forward to reading it, or at least poking through it. {It's a library book, so there's more of a chance that I will. :)}  This might be one of the most unusual paths to a book that I've ever followed...


Just a few thoughts on why I like these books so much. The Sound of Broken Glass is waiting for me at the library, and though I might have liked to spread this reading out a little more I'm looking forward to it even more now.

6 comments:

Lisa May said...

If it hadn't been for the TBR dare, I think I would have gone back to read the earlier books again after finishing the new one - and I may still. I just like Duncan and Gemma so much, and I have enjoyed getting to know them, their families, their homes, through the series - like you say, in the details. And now I'm intrigued by 18 Folgate Street :)

Vintage Reading said...

It's good when you really like a writer and read several of their books in a row. I'm into Rumer Godden's Indian novels at the moment.

lyn said...

I love this series too & have TSOBG on my desk at the moment. I'm looking forward to catching up with Duncan & Gemma.

fleurfisher said...

I love this series. It is so rare to find a mystery series that grows, but this one has and it makes me wish I'd looked into corners of London I missed in all the years I lived there. I'm one book behind you - just read #13, #14 on my library pile, and waiting for #15 to come into stock.

Cosy Books said...

I typed 'Dennis Severs' into the search engine of my library's catalogue and crossed my fingers...zip, nothing came up. This would be an interesting read! Oh well, glad it's working for you, Audrey. I love how stories and subjects cascade from one thing to another or connect in some way.

Nan said...

I love this series. I think she is the best writer for all the reasons you note. Lovely blog entry. Thanks.

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