Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James, newly married (at last), are approaching a crossroads in their relationship. For the past two months, Gemma has taken a leave of absence from her demanding police job to care for the couple's new foster child, two-year-old Charlotte, who came into their lives in the course of investigating their previous case. Kincaid is poised to become the fragile Charlotte's primary caregiver during his own family leave from Scotland Yard, scheduled to start in a matter of days.
"Complex, multifaceted and genuinely surprising, the mystery (or should I say mysteries) will keep readers turning pages and second-guessing themselves right up until the final pages."
But first, a case falls into Kincaid's lap that threatens to throw the couple's domestic plans --- not to mention their wedded bliss --- into disarray. Becca Meredith, a well-respected (if not exactly well-liked) police sergeant turns up dead in the Thames, near the racing scull in which she'd been training for her rowing comeback, with an eye toward the 2012 Olympic Games.
At first, suspects seem few and far between, but soon Kincaid has more suspects than he knows what to do with, including some potential angles that could have huge repercussions all through the law enforcement ranks. Perhaps Becca's murderer is her ex-husband (and sole beneficiary) Freddie, a former rower fixated on his glory days…and on the woman he never stopped loving. Or perhaps it's Kieran, Becca's secret lover, an Iraq War veteran whose love for her keeps him sane…and borders on obsession. Or perhaps Becca's colleagues at the police station, jealous over her potential paid leave of absence to train for the Olympics, let their envy get the better of them.
What's more, Gemma (who has been chomping at the bit to get back to her own investigations) starts doing her own research, coming at the question from a different angle that could be the key to it all --- or could carry personal and professional consequences beyond anything either Gemma or Kincaid could anticipate or even imagine.
Crombie's story takes readers deep into the competitive world of rowing, particularly into the bitter rivalry of the Oxford/Cambridge regatta known only as "The Boat Race." As for the mystery plot, Crombie rarely disappoints, and this one is no exception. Complex, multifaceted and genuinely surprising, the mystery (or should I say mysteries) will keep readers turning pages and second-guessing themselves right up until the final pages.
Too often, murder mysteries, like situation comedies, lose their interpersonal interest --- not to mention their sexual tension and indefinable "spark" --- when their romantic leads finally hook up. Not so with Deborah Crombie's Kincaid/James series, which has continued to keep the couple's relationship lively and interesting even as they have evolved from flirting colleagues to man and wife. And, at the close of NO MARK UPON HER, it appears that Gemma and Kincaid will continue to redefine their relationship, as an exciting new development ensures that Gemma (who has paid her dues reading bedtime stories and planning birthday parties) will have plenty of her own cases to oversee once she's able to throw herself back into the work she loves. Readers will be eager to see how she --- and they --- rise to the occasion.
Reviewed by Norah Piehl on February 9, 2012