@@@@ (4 out of 5)
Let me see if I’ve got this straight. There are lots of cops in Deborah Crombie’s latest detective novel, Garden of Lamentations. Six of them, for starters. Co-protagonists Detective Superintendent Duncan Kincaid and Detective Inspector Gemma James are married. They’ve been reassigned from New Scotland Yard to separate precincts elsewhere in London. The pair have an adopted teenage boy, a 3-year-old foster daughter, and an even younger boy of their own. In addition to Kincaid and James, there are two lower-ranked officers, Doug Cullen and Melody Talbot. Melody’s father is Ivan Talbot, a London press lord, but she’s keeping that a secret. Then there’s Kincaid’s “guvnor,” Detective Chief Superintendent Denis Childs, who has been mysteriously missing for several months. Oh, and Ryan Marsh, also a police officer, had died in some unstated way three months earlier after he and Talbot rushed into a fire started by a grenade tossed into a crowd. Oh, yes, and Kincaid and James’ friends, Hazel and Tim, also figure in the story. The pair had been involved in an earlier case in Scotland, where Hazel had moved to manage the family’s distillery. I think that’s the gist of it. It took me quite a while to figure all this out.
In other words, it would pay to have read the preceding novels in the Duncan Kincaid/Gemma James series. This is the 17th. I’d read many of the others, but too long ago to remember so many details.
If you understand all those things, you’re good to go. As Garden of Lamentations opens, a young nanny is murdered, Denis Childs is assaulted and left for dead after hinting at police corruption, and Kincaid and Talbot are still puzzling over the death of Ryan Marsh. The story that unfolds is engrossing and suspenseful. You’ll find yourself caught up in a tale that involves corruption at Scotland Yard, undercover police, a locked-garden murder mystery, and the travails of a complicated family with two parents holding professional jobs.