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The sound of broken glass by Deborah Crombie
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The sound of broken glass (edition 2013)

by Deborah Crombie

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Title:The sound of broken glass
Authors:Deborah Crombie
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The Sound of Broken Glass by Deborah Crombie

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In London’s Crystal Palace area, Barrister Vincent Arnott is found murdered at the squalid Belvedere Hotel. Arnott, who was strangled, was left naked and trussed up in a compromising position. This is Gemma James' first case as a Detective Chief Inspector (DCI) for Scotland Yard's South London team. Detective Sargent Melody Talbot is back as Gemma's assistant in the investigation. In the meantime, Gemma's husband, Detective Superintendent Duncan Kinkaid, is currently on leave as a stay at home father for the children because the orphaned three year old they are hoping to adopt, Charlotte, needs some extra TLC.

Coincidence leads them to look into Andy Monahan, an up and coming guitarist who happened to be playing at the pub Arnott was last seen at the night before his murder. Arnott was seen exchanging angry words with Andy after Andy punched some loser who approached him in between sets. Melody feels an immediate attraction to Andy when she is sent to interview him. It also turns out that Duncan knows some of the players in the investigation. When another barrister is found murdered in exactly the same way, Gemma and Melody are scrambling to try and piece the clues of these cases together.

At the same time we are following the murder investigation in The Sound of Broken Glass, we are following Andy's past, when he was thirteen years old. He was a poor kid who had to take charge of his mother's wages or she would spend it all at the pub. He had to keep the house clean and make sure his mother went to work every day. His only joy was playing the guitar. Andy also had a couple of rich punks tormenting him, so he also had to watch out for them. When a young widow, Nadine Drake, moved in next door, he finally had an adult who cared about him. She encouraged him, made sure he ate and listened to him play.

Certainly Crombie is a seasoned writer and knows how to please her fan base with her fast paced police procedural series featuring Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James, and their cohorts. The novel sets up the suspense and complex plot wonderfully. This is the 15th novel in Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James Series, so if you haven't been reading the series you might be scrambling a bit to catch up. I have read one or two in the series (I can't remember which ones) so I had some background on the characters. I didn't find it terribly hard to figure out many of the connections between people and fill in missing background information. Or, alternately, it didn't seem to matter if I had the complete picture of all the interpersonal connections. I know I was missing some background stories.

I had one issue, which seems inconsequential, but after numerous times it was written it became annoying. During the investigation Gemma and Melody would pick up sandwiches or something to eat because they were always on the go and hungry. Inevitably Gemma would be described as nibbling her sandwich and never finishing it. For all the food they acquired because they were hungry, they were always nibbling, never eating. It was just too much nibbling for me. Or anytime Gemma or Melody got tea it was never finished. I promise I would not have looked down on any of the characters had they taken some hardy bites of a sandwich or even wolfed it down quickly. And please, drink that tea down. Fluids are important too.

The Sound of Broken Glass by Deborah Crombie is highly recommended. Crombie leaves readers with a tantalizing mystery about the direction the next novel will take. To Dwell in Darkness is due to be released in September 2014.

Disclosure: I received an advanced reading copy of this book from HarperCollins for review purposes. ( )
  SheTreadsSoftly | Mar 21, 2016 |
This is a wonderful series, deftly mixing solid mysteries with character development of the regular cast. You wouldn't HAVE to read the series in order, but I'd highly recommend doing so. ( )
  Gingermama | Jan 24, 2016 |
Another superb story by Ms. Crombie. I love her ability to end a book, in a way that makes the reader hanker for the next one immediately. ( )
  Conkie | Feb 17, 2015 |
Another good one from a consistently good author. I was fascinated by the tidbits of history about the Crystal Palace and the neighborhood surrounding it.

It's nice to see Gemma and Duncan settling into married life,but I especially liked that Crombie isn't trying to hand us a fairy tale marriage. For fans of the series, it just keeps getting better. ( )
  tututhefirst | Nov 15, 2014 |
This author is consistently engaging in her series featuring London police detectives Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James (now married to each other). The two of them juggle care for their blended family of three children with investigating murders.

This particular case is centered in Crystal Palace, a residential area in South London named after the landmark building housing the Great Exhibition of 1851. Because of the 1848 invention of the cast plate glass method, the structure featured the largest amount of glass ever seen in a building and thus was dubbed a "Crystal Palace.” Originally erected in Hyde Park, London, it was moved to South London in 1854, but burned to the ground in 1936. The neighborhood in South London kept the name however.

Historical notes about the original Crystal Palace are presented in epigraphs at the head of each chapter, and have some parallels to the action in each chapter which takes place in the eponymous neighborhood.

As the story begins, Duncan is on parental leave doing childcare duties, and Gemma is filling an emergency vacancy as Acting Detective Chief Inspector for a South London murder investigation team. The first case that comes to her and her partner, Melody Talbot, is a dead barrister found in a seedy hotel in Crystal Palace, naked and tied up in what looks like a bondage situation gone bad. But shortly thereafter, another barrister turns up dead in the same way. Gemma and Melody track clues with the help of Duncan and Duncan’s partner, Doug Cullen, who is also temporarily off the job.

Crombie takes us back and forth in time as the investigation unfolds. One of the suspects is an attractive guitar player, Andy Monahan, who Melody unfortunately finds attractive. Fifteen years earlier, as a lonely teenage broncin' buck, Andy found relief from his cares by playing the guitar, having received a very nice one as a gift from his neighbor. You could hear him thinking years later....

"I can still remember how that music used to make me smile
And I knew if I had my chance
That I could make those people dance
And maybe they'd be happy for a while..."

Alas, the music didn’t die (as in "Bye, Bye, Miss American Pie"), but something else very bad happened, and the repercussions drive this story in the current day.

Complications and coincidences spice up the story as the tension builds, because it is a forgone conclusion that the killer isn’t finished.

Evaluation: Crombie is a solidly good writer, and her novels feature the perfect blend of character development and crime solving. In addition, she strikes an excellent balance between assuring us of the gruesomeness of a crime without horrifying us with too many lurid details.

Although this is the fifteenth book in the series, I haven’t read them all (regrettably), but had no trouble whatsoever picking up on the background of the series. ( )
1 vote nbmars | Aug 8, 2014 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Deborah Crombieprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Doyle, GerardReadermain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Aquan, Richard L.Cover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Harte, RichardCover photographsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jäger, AndreasÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Lisa Haskell and Ann Christ,
whose kindness and generosity over the years have helped
make London my second home.

And for Steve Ullathorne,
who insisted I write a book about Crysral Palace.
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It had been years since she'd been in an English church.
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While investigating the murder of a well-respected barrister who was found dead at a seedy hotel in Crystal Palace, Detective Inspector Gemma James and her partner, Detective Sergeant Melody Talbot, begin to question everything they think they know about their world and those they trust most.… (more)

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