To Dwell in Darkness
For those of you who are among the initiated, all I have to do is tell you that TO DWELL IN DARKNESS is a new Kincaid & James novel. You probably already know that anyway, since, being a fan of Deborah Crombie, you’ll be keeping track of such things. For those of you who are new to or unfamiliar with this fine, long-running series, please be advised that you have a wonderful acquaintance to make, and you can start right here.
Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James are British detectives who are married to each other and whose cases frequently intersect in one way or another. Kincaid is still reeling professionally, given that he inexplicably has been transferred from Scotland Yard headquarters in London to the relative hinterland of the London borough of Camden. Gemma continues in her professional role as a Detective Inspector, being ably assisted in that role by Detective Sergeant Melody Talbot. It is Talbot who serves as an important focal point in TO DWELL IN DARKNESS as things begin to get rolling.
"For those of you who are new to or unfamiliar with this fine, long-running series, please be advised that you have a wonderful acquaintance to make, and you can start right here."
Talbot is attending a music festival at the historic St. Pancras Station, given that her significant other is part of a duo who are the featured performers there. The performance has hardly started, however, before it is disrupted by a horrific explosion and fire that results in a terrible death and several injuries. Talbot is one of the few witnesses to come anywhere near seeing what actually occurred. The point of origin appears to be a group of protesters who were at the fringe of the crowd, though it is not clear precisely what they were protesting. There is also a mysterious bystander who interacted briefly with Talbot immediately after the explosion and seemed to know something about what occurred, but then he disappeared and cannot be located.
Kincaid and his new --- and implicitly fractious --- murder team are assigned to the investigation, and in short order begin making progress, though each discovery seems to result in more questions. The protesters are located rather quickly, but insist that the only incendiary device in their possession was a smoke bomb. Nonetheless, a pattern begins to emerge, albeit a puzzling one that doesn’t quite make sense.
For Kincaid, a major if secondary issue for him continues to be the reason behind his transfer away from London. It’s not that he can’t get a satisfactory answer from his former boss; he can’t get any response at all, other than avoidance. Gemma’s assistance, officially and otherwise, is invaluable in both cases, as is Talbot’s involvement and that of Doug Cullen, Kincaid’s former sergeant, who still maintains an unofficial connection to his former boss. What Kincaid learns will impact his attitude toward his job and everything that had shaped him professionally. How it will play out in future volumes of the series remains to be seen.
Interestingly enough, Crombie is a native of Texas whose writing is informed by previous residencies in, and ongoing visits to, England as well as Scotland. One of the fortuitous results of these travels is her penchant for including a remarkable, if not popularly known, site as an important element of her mystery of the day. She continues this practice in TO DWELL IN DARKNESS, featuring at the beginning of each chapter factoids concerning the history behind the situs of the St. Pancras Station. Include a set of characters whose personalities and relationships incrementally develop and evolve, book by book, and a tantalizing mystery at the heart of the tale, and you have just three of many reasons to become a fan of this series. Jump on here, or hop on at the beginning and work your way forward, but don’t wait to do so. Otherwise, you’ll miss out on one of the best police procedural series currently being published.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on September 26, 2014