Deborah Crombie






Harper Collins, September 2005
Reviewed by Sally Roddom

Fire-fighter Rose Kearny finds a body in a burning building and when the fire turns out to be arson she is eager to be part of the investigation. Detective Superintendent Duncan Kincaid is called in from his normal patch, Scotland Yard, to investigate the identity of the nude, charred female corpse. The building is owned by a prominent member of parliament, Michael Harwood, so the investigation into arson needs to be handled sensitively, hence Kincaid’s presence. There is also the added pressure that Harwood’s daughter is one of four possible women who could be the victim.

Meanwhile, Kincaid’s partner, Detective Inspector Gemma James, is pulled into the investigation of 10-year-old Harriet Novak, a pawn in her parents' ongoing bitter divorce. Harriet’s father has arranged for a casual girlfriend to snatch Harriet from her mother, only the girlfriend disappears with Harriet. And Harriet’s mother is now missing and becomes another possible identity for the victim. Throw in a disabled lady, whose female minder has disappeared, and the gradual realisation that the arsonist is still at work, and you have a novel that keeps the reader to the edge of the seat.

IN A DARK HOUSE is the tenth novel starring Scotland Yard Duncan Kincaid and his live-in partner Gemma James. It is a stunning piece of writing. In this well written, multi-layered story, four unrelated subplots gradually merge together before a very satisfying tie-up of the events at the end. It is obvious that author Deborah Crombie has well researched the rich history of the Southwark part of London and used that research to create a wonderful backdrop for the story taking place in the present. The characters are not all loveable but they are all real. They are the sort of people you meet every day but never thought of writing about. IN A DARK HOUSE is the first I have read in this series, and I have enjoyed it so much that I am going to seek out the rest of the series. Deborah Crombie has just scored herself a new convert.

Feb 2006 Review originally published on Murder and Mayhem
Revised version March 2006

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