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Dreaming of the Bones Hardcover – Oct 1997


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 350 pages
  • Publisher: Simon and Schuster (October 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684801418
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684801414
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 3 x 25.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 454 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,095,101 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Amazon

"Deborah Crombie might be the most British of American mystery novelists," said an astute reviewer in reference to Mourn Not Your Dead, the fourth book in her excellent series about Duncan Kincaid, an inoffensively upper-class Scotland Yard superintendent, and Sergeant Gemma James, his rougher-edged partner and lover. In addition to her finely tuned ear for the subtler nuances of Britspeak, Crombie--a resident of Richardson, Texas--achieves a rare and therefore enviable balance between the details of her characters' private lives and the plot of each particular book. That delicate balance is especially welcome in Dreaming of the Bones, when Kincaid's former wife, Dr. Victoria McClellan, threatens his personal and professional equanimity. A Cambridge don, Vic has been writing a biography of poet Lydia Brooke, who claimed kinship to the distinguished World War I bard Rupert Brooke, and whose suicide five years before is now beginning to appear suspiciously like murder.

Review

"Fascinating...Multilayered."
--The New York Times Book Review

"A story of death, obsession and secrets."
--Houston Chronicle

"An elegant, literary mystery...outstanding."
--Mystery Lovers Bookshop News

"Deborah Crombie at her best...This is a story of great depth and understanding."
--Mystery News

"Dreaming of the Bones will make you cry and catch your breath in surprise."
--Chicago Tribune

"Poignant."
--The Orlando Sentinel

"Haunting...The best book in an already accomplished series."
--Publishers Weekly (starred review)

A New York Times Notable Book of the Year

Nominated for the Edgar and the Agatha awards for The Year's Best Novel --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Except for Martha Grimes, I don't usually go in for English mystery series, the sort of thing with continuing characters and starring a Scotland Yard investigator, nor have I read any others in this series. But I can see why this novel was voted a New York Times Notable Book of the Year and why it was nominated for both the Edgar and the Agatha.
Detective Superintendent Duncan Kincaid has been divorced for twelve years, his life is ticking right along, and he has a nicely developing romance with his sergeant, Gemma James. And then he hears from his ex-wife, Victoria, now a professor of modern English poetry at Cambridge, who has been researching a biography of Lydia Brooke, who died in what Victoria has come to believe are suspicious circumstances a few years before. She wants Duncan's help, and he agrees, to Gemma's consternation. Sounds like a pretty routine plot, doesn't it? It's not, believe me. Where most writers in this genre concentrate on the plot, with characters who are less than three-dimensional, or (again, like Martha Grimes) develop wonderful characters but tend to stint the mystery itself, Crombie succeeds very well at both. Duncan and Gemma and Victoria all come alive, as do the supporting players, and you won't guess at the solution to the mystery until the denouement, either. By the end of the book, Duncan's life has become permanently more complicated, and I want to know what happens next! (Obviously, I'm going to have to go back and read the first four books in this series before tackling the sixth one.)
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Deborah Crombie writes uncannily like another American-born author of English detective novels, Elizabeth George. Both Crombie and George write about British detectives who are intensely human, compassionate and introspective. At the same time, these detectives are very competent and persistent in their dogged pursuit of justice. Crombie and George also go to great pains to develop their characters, and they write natural dialogue that is both literate and engaging. In "Dreaming of the Bones," Crombie explores the deepening relationship between Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James. The personal lives of these two characters are in turmoil, and suddenly, Kincaid and James find themselves joining forces to solve a serious of murders that hit uncomfortably close to home. In "Dreaming of the Bones," Crombie uses flashbacks skillfully and her sardonic humor is delightful. The only drawback is the ending, which is a little anticlimactic and drags on longer than it should. In spite of this flaw, I recommend "Dreaming of the Bones" highly, since it is a satisfying and an entertaining mystery.
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By belladena on April 18 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I'm not shocked to see a reviewer bring up the subject of Plath with regards to Crombie's book. I, too, found Lydia Brooke to be a flat, imitative character. Too much about her and the audience she held with her psycho-sexual ego rang of Sylvia Plath. Although, in the case of Lydia Brooke, it resulted in a bad imitation, thanks to Deborah Crombie.
What was even uglier was the continual reference to the supposedly destructive relationship between Rupert Brooke and Virginia Woolf. All in all, too many things pointed at the Huges/Plath relationship. If Crombie wanted to detail the life of Plath, couldn't she have written another boigraphy, without disguising it in this awkward mystery?
What kept me reading this book was the likeability of Gemma and Duncan, and an empathy for the young son of the murdered Brooke-biographer. Beyond that, this book rounded out into an atrocious ending, with no satisfactory motive, that left me feeling dissatisfied and positive I wouldn't seek out Crombie's other mysteries.
I agree that 'bloody' was used far too much, sometimes twice in a sentence. Ugh!
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I don't read a lot of murder mysteries, and I've never read any of Deborah Crombie's other books, so I am a little at a disadvantage. Overall, the book is well written, and the characters are realistic, especially Duncan and Gemma, who are both interesting and likeable. Unfortunately, Lydia Brooke, the poet turned suicide/murder victim is the weakest character in the book. A not-very-thinly-disguised Sylvia Plath, with a-not very-thinly-disguised Ted Hughes-ish ex-husband, Lydia is weakly drawn and not particularly compelling. Perhaps that's because I kept comparing her with her real-life counterpart, Plath, who was - and still is- a very compelling person. Crombie's imitation of Plath's gushing "Letters Home" rings false, and her rendition of Plath's 'Ariel' in the 'voice' of Lydia Brooke is cringe-inducing. The introduction of a Donna Tartt-esque ending, a la "The Secret History" was over-the-top and not particularly believable. As for Crombie being the most British of American mystery writers, I found her over-use of "cheerio", "bloody", "love" , etc., irritating - exactly the sort of words an American would use when writing 'British' characters. I wish I could say that I will seek out more of Ms. Crombie's books, but I doubt that I will, given that I didn't enjoy this one.
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