Friday, March 09, 2012

Deborah Crombie's No Mark Upon Her--some thoughts

Not much I can say about Deborah Crombie's latest novel, No Mark Upon Her, that hasn't already been said--and better. Her capture of the King's English, as the Brits speak it, is convincing and consistent. I'm no expert, but it sounds right to me and others who know more have praised it highly. In this, her sixteenth Duncan Kincid/Gemma James novel, she takes on the world of competitive rowing and captures not only its special language but the passion rowers feel for their sport and some of the ins and outs of technique. Watch for her again on the Thames--she tried rowing for research but seems so taken by it that I wouldn't be surprised to see her in a single skull.
No Mark Upon Her is also suspense at its best, intricately plotted, and just when you think you have it figured out, Crombie is one step ahead and throws a curve into things.  Duncan takes on his "guv'nor" in this one, and the reader truly wonders if he'll come out of it unscathed. Gemma meanwhile is supposed to be ignoring police matters because it's still her turn to be home with three-year-old Charlotte, the child they've adopted who still shows many fears from losing her parents. But Gemma can't ignore cases tangential to this one.
Above all, however, what draws me to read each novel in this series as soon as I can after pubication is the way Crombie pulls the reader into the lives of Duncan and Gemma and their sons, Kit and Toby, and now little Charlotte. Scotland Yard detectives become human when you watch them deal with family and child-raising issues.
Finally, there's Deborah herself who as far as I can tell has not let success go to her head, though she clearly delights in it. She makes everyone, including me, feel like a friend, and she's likeable, down-to-earth, and wryly funny.
I recommend her books a lot, and I always say start with the first in the series--they're listed on the verso of the title page. But I have a list if you want to ask. This time I say start with the latest novel. In my opinion it's her finest so far. Read No Mark Upon Her and then go back to A Share in Death. You'll enjoy watching the relationship between Duncan and Gemma grow and change and watching Crombie's increased mastery of the form--and you'll get a cracking good mystery with each read. Oh, and a nice taste of England, with a bit of Scotland thrown in. What more could one want?
I'm not one of those who feels obliged to find some flaw with each book or author, so my recommendaiton is without qualification.

1 comment:

Mar (aka mar annabelle jacob) said...

Very nice review Judy - I agree, I think this is Debs' best book yet, they keep getting better