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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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A barrister is found naked, bound and dead in a hotel room in the Crystal Palace area of London. As Detective Inspector Gemma James and her colleague Detective Sergeant Melody Talbot investigate the hours leading up to the victim’s death, she discovers a link to a guitarist who’s about to hit it big in the music world. Talbot interviews the musician and winds up getting involved with him, complicating the case and compromising her role as investigator. Then a second murder occurs and the two women work to find a connection between the two victims.

Interwoven with the contemporary story is a secondary plot, which goes back several years. That involves a boy with an alcoholic mother and his friendship with widowed neighbor who takes him under her wing. The boy is being tormented by two bully boys who seem bent on making his life even more miserable.

While Gemma is investigating, her husband Duncan, on leave from his job as a detective superintendent, plays Mr. Mom to their toddler foster daughter Charlotte. He’s itching to get back to work but first he needs to ensure the girl is well cared for while both parents work. That is complicated by her tragic past and the separation anxiety she is experiencing. But Duncan finds a way to get back in the game, unofficially, by helping Gemma interview an acquaintance who has a slight involvement with the case.

The Sound of Broken Glass is exactly what fans of this series expect: intricate plotting, top-notch writing and great continuing characters. Mystery purists may think there’s too much of the main characters’ personal life, but I think that’s what gives the series its edge. A definite winner! ( )
  NewsieQ | May 11, 2014 |
This is a DS Duncan Kincaid and DI Gemma James mystery with an emphasis on James. For those not in the know, Kincaid and James are married with several children, the youngest of which is Charlotte, a 3 year old orphan they are fostering. Charlotte is a beautiful child but due to the upheaval in her life she has not settled well in the preschools they've tried, so Kincaid has taken leave to care for her until they can find a solution. That adds quite a lot to this excellent novel as he deals with worry about his job, finding money for a better school, and frustration because he can't help his wife with her mysterious south London murder case.

Speaking of her case, the naked body of a middle-aged man has been found in a cheap hotel tied up in a particularly humiliating position. The victim had been strangled. He apparently had used that room frequently for sexual encounters with women he picked up in a nearby bar. Turns out he was a respected barrister known also for his devoted care of his wife who has Alzheimers.

The story actually begins much earlier. Told in flashback, we meet a young teenager with a drunken mother and a natural talent for guitar. He goes to Crystal Palace Park each day to play his guitar and get out of his house, an escape ruined by bullies. His neighbor, a young widow who is a French teacher, befriends him but can he escape the bullies?

Crystal Palace was a real place. It was an enormous iron and glass building used for exhibitions and other events from 1854 until it burned years later. Now the area around the site is known generally as Crystal Palace. Each chapter is headed by a sentence or two from a guidebook or history about the building and surrounding area. I love history so I was interested in that aspect of the novel.

The characters in this series are people you would like to know so you can just settle in for a comfortable time with them as they solve a mystery, keep up with friends, and deal with problems in their personal lives as well. This story also gives us a glimpse into the music world of London as Andy the guitar player tries to get his big break. James' current partner, Melody Talbot, also has a big role in solving this case.

Highly recommended
Source: Partners in Crime Book Tours ( )
  bjmitch | Mar 21, 2014 |
Deborah Crombie's a new author to me and that's both good and bad. Good because now I can go read everything she's written - new worlds to explore! Bad because I've really been missing out. Although Ms. Crombie's a native Texan, she spent time living in the UK and she writes a great British police procedural. Her primary characters, DI Gemma James and DS Duncan Kincaid, are married and dealing with the challenges of a blended family and an adopted child with a traumatic past and the consequent special needs. There is no perfect solution to any of these situations and Ms. Crombie is great about not offering impossible solutions where there are none.

In a sense, the personal lives of our heroes mirror the complexities of the case presented in The Sound of Broken Glass - a trussed and strangled murder victim and all the questions that arise from the discovery of his corpse. There are lots of connections here between everyone involved, a reminder that England is not America. In America, we scoff at multiple connections because our geography is so large. It's an oddity when I meet a man who grew up in the same small town in Mississippi as my mother at a temporary job in Seattle, WA. If you telescope your vision to a smaller state, however, connections are so common as to be the norm. Given its size, it makes sense to me that people would be more obviously and immediately interconnected in England so all the strings and coincidences that attach each to each work and make sense to me.

As much a story about family and friends as it is a murder mystery, The Sound of Broken Glass is a real pleasure. A sharp, well-plotted, well-written procedural that will hold your attention right through the very end. ( )
  kraaivrouw | Mar 2, 2014 |
What originally drew me to The Sound of Broken Glass by Deborah Cromble are the Great Exposition and the history of the Crystal Palace. The author put quotes about the building of it, the extravagance of it and its horrible destruction by fire. I enjoyed those quotes and would like to read a book on that subject alone in the future.

A few of the characters lived in that area in London and I thought that they were a little one-dimensional. The story starts with a poor neglected boy who is left in charge of caring for his alcoholic mother and never receiving any comfort or warmth from her.

It is around that relationship and the two bullies that the story centers. I loved the characters of Detective Inspector Gemma James and her husband Detective Superintendent Duncan Kincaid. They seemed to have worked out how to have an honest and loving relationship and cared deeply about their children. Gemma seems a lot smarter than Detective Sergeant Melody Talbot who manages to have an indiscretion during her investigation this case.

The first victim, a barrister, was found naked, tied up like a chicken to roast and strangled. Was it an auto-erotic experience gone wrong or a murder? When the second attorney is found in the same way, the detectives are worried about a serial killer.
I enjoyed this mystery, it seemed a bit confusing at first with all the characters but after I got familiar with them, it was hard to stop reading. This was the 15th in series and I do wish I had read the previous books but that doesn’t mean that it cannot be read as a standalone.

I hihgly recommend this book to all mystery lovers. Although I selected it from Partners in Crime and received it free of charge that had no bearing on my review. ( )
  Carolee888 | Feb 28, 2014 |
It was good to reconnect with Gemma and Duncan, but the book didn't seem as complex or challenging as others in the series. This was the first time I figured out the murderer well in advance of the ending of the book. I didn't learn as much about London's music industry as I expected to, given Crombie's track record for immersing the reader in particular community, subculture, or industry in each book. Still, I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book, and I'm looking forward to the next one. ( )
  rqdavis | Aug 27, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Deborah Crombieprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Aquan, Richard L.Cover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Doyle, GerardNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Harte, RichardCover photographsecondary 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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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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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