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Deborah Crombie , Jenny Sterlin
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

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Book Description

In the past: It is September 1939 and thousands of children are being evacuated from London. Among them 12-year-olds Lewis Finch and William Hammond, both billeted on the Surrey estate of the formidable Regina Burne-Jones. Both become allies, then friends, and thus begins a story of choice and betrayal the repercussions of which will echo down the years ...In the present: Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James are called out to investigate a death in London's East End. A young woman known as Annabelle Hammond has been strangled. Prime suspect is a busker she was seen talking to just before she disappeared. And when he turns out to be Gordon Finch, Duncan decides to investigate events which occurred more than fifty years before.

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Nominated for an Edgar, Deborah Crombie's 1997 Dreaming of the Bones was such a triumph in all respects that it's a hard act to follow. Kissed a Sad Goodbye, Crombie's sixth book about Scotland Yard's Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James, isn't quite as spectacular as her previous rendition. Still, the author who creates her very British world from a town in North Texas has managed to come up with an entirely respectable and highly enjoyable effort. Her story offers a fascinating setting in place of the poignant, personal drama that invigorated Dreaming of the Bones.

The body of a lovely young woman is found in London's fashionable Docklands area. She turns out to be Annabelle Hammond, the director of an old family firm of tea merchants. She was a woman of tremendous talent and sexual appetite, but also the kind of harsh and abrasive personality that provides plenty of motives for murder. The Hammond family is also historically linked to the self-made property developer Lewis Finch and his son, an activist dropout and street musician. The other suspects include a spineless boyfriend who works at the tea firm, a secretary too loyal to be true, and herrings of various shades of crimson. Kincaid and James have to solve it all, even as their own personal problems threaten to intrude. Thanks to Crombie's enviable ability to bring people and places to life with a single phrase, the story zips along like the new Docklands electric railroad.

Previous Kincaid-James books in paperback include Dreaming of the Bones, All Shall Be Well, Leave the Grave Green, and Mourn Not Your Dead. --Dick Adler --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Scotland Yard detectives Sergeant Gemma James and Superintendent Duncan Kincaid (Dreaming of the Bones, etc.) return to solve a murder committed in the East End of London. On the Isle of Dogs in the Docklands area, a young woman is found dead. Oddly, her corpse has been carefully, even reverently, arranged. The stunningly beautiful victim, Annabelle Hammond, is the director of a family-owned tea company that is headquartered in a historic building nearby. Operating on the premise that Annabelle probably knew her killer, Duncan and Gemma poke around in the victim's past, meanwhile working through problems in their own lives. Duncan has recently learned that his ex-wife (who died in Dreaming of the Bones) left behind an 11-year-old son; now he is discovering how much time and emotion are needed to bring up a child. As previously, Crombie delineates expertly the interactions between lovers Duncan and Gemma, as their relationship continues to evolve. Most notable, though, is her masterful depiction of the history and character of the Docklands: the Isle of Dogs, and its historic cycle of destruction and renewal, provides a strong, atmospheric background to the tale, as the contemporary story is interspersed with accounts of the evacuation of local children (including Annabelle's father) during the bombings of WWII. Although not as emotionally intense as its Edgar-nominated predecessor, this complex, thoughtful novel is another satisfying entry in an exceptional series. Agent, Nancy Yost.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Murder Then and Now Feb. 16 2004
This is not a bad entry in the Kincid/James series, but I too was somewhat disappointed with this story. I have read some excellent examples of stories where the feelings and actions that have occured in the present have come about because of some of the protaganists' histories. Jill McGown and Elizabeth George both have wonderful examples of this type of sub-genre. This one attempts this, but it seems to fall flat in a way. The ending seems hurried somehow, and the two storylines don't seem to flow together until they meet explosively. I thought the book seemed long as I was reading, and it just didn't seem to gel. I really enjoyed "Dreaming of the Bones", and was looking forward to this book, so I was disappointed. Also, the relationship with Gemma and Duncan seems to stagnate. There is no sexual tension, and the relationship seems to be struggling and neither one seems to notice and to do something about it. Hopefully the next book will be better, and we get back to some of the writing that we've seen in this series.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Pretty good mystery for first-time author. Dec 19 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I enjoyed this mystery. I don't think I've read Crombie before (but I may have lost track given the amount of books I read!)
This story had several sub-plots intertwined with the main mystery, the murder of a beautiful young woman in a park. Much of the sub-plots had to do with parent-child relationships between both the primary investigator, Duncan, and his chort, Gemma. Both have children who have lost a parent for one reason or another, and both are coping with guilt over having to leave their children to perform their respective jobs. This is a real problem in today's world, and it is not easily coped with.
It is not until the mystery is solved that it become apparent that it also deals with family relationships. I got led off on several other possibilities for the woman's murderer, but they all were too pat, and I should have known better. There is a twist at the end that does make sense in some ways, though physically I wondered if the murderer had the strength to do the deed.
I enjoyed the history of the Docklands (snippets at the front of each chapter) and the history of the children in Britain who were forced from London into homes that were alien in the countryside due to the WWII Blitz by the Germans. I always like a little history with my mystery....
Karen Sadler
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Format:Mass Market Paperback
turner beautifully written with compelling characters and lots of information about the recent history of Britain. I love the series in general.
The plot involves a beautiful woman found dead in a park in the Docklands area of London, a death that involves several long-time residents of this gentrifying area (which had more or less been destroyed by bombing during World War II and subsequently redeveloped). From time to time, the story is interrupted by a story from World War II, about children evacuated from London to live in the country -- a story of distant events that is clearly relevant somehow to this murder because the same names keep popping up. The romance between the two detectives (Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James) continues to develop -- and flounder a little -- as they attempt to solve this murder.
I felt this book could have been edited, made about 50 pages shorter, with certain subplots (particularly that involving Gemma's temptation by another man) deleted for a tighter, more satisfying book. I also was disappointed by the ending -- although I guessed the killer halfway through the book, the reason for the killing did not seem adequate at all.
If you love the series, read this book, but if this is your introduction to the Kincaid/James series, start with an earlier book, not this one. I personally did not feel this was her best work although it is well worth reading -- even Crombie's not-so-good books are very good.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A very satisfying novel... May 9 2000
I guess I'm lucky because this was my first Deborah Crombie novel, so I couldn't compare it to earlier "better" works as I read it. I enjoyed it so much, however, I checked out all the other Crombie novels from the library and read them. I can see a definite progession in her writing (not the story line between the two detectives but actual improvement in her ability to develop her characters.) She seems to write more and more satisfying novels as she goes along.
While I read "Kissed a Sad Goodbye" I pulled out one of my maps of London, and followed the trail. This may have helped me enjoy it. I like to follow maps while I read if the author is naming and describing places. I also may have enjoyed the book more because I was in the Docklands in last fall, and walked the tunnel under the Thames to Greenwich and through the little village itself. I had wanted to see the tunnel since I read P.D. James novel "Original Sin". Mudchute was also featured in "Playing for the Ashes" written by Elizabeth George, and I think the area was captured in the film "Career Girls" too.
Also, I am an inveterate tea drinker and fan, so I loved the description of the tea business.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fresh exhilerating Kincaid-James entry Feb. 13 1999
By A Customer
Annabelle Hammond is so beautiful that men flock to her as Pooh Bear does to honey. Anyone who knows her figures she has it all since she has a doting fiancé and operates a tea business that she loves. However, someone must not have been a fan of Annabelle because the young woman with everything to live for was murdered. Detective Superintendent Duncan Kincaid and his partner and lover Gemma James begin to investigate.
Duncan finds the case difficult because of personal
problems. His beloved Gemma seems to be changing even as she seems to be hiding a secret from him. He also struggles to connect with a son he never knew existed until recently. The case is a major distraction. Many people seem to detest the victim, but he wonders who would have the strongest motive to kill her. To learn the truth and subsequently uncover the killer, the police will have to look to the distant past for the reason.
The Kincaid-James series never seems to grow stale as Deborah Crombie continually modifies the personal lives of her lead characters. Because they already seem like an everyman or woman, the changes make them feel genuine. The delicious flashbacks to WW II enhance a brilliant who-done-it. Once again Ms. Crombie provides her audience with an especially entertaining novel.

Harriet Klausner
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Another good one!
I am reading this series in succession and very much enjoying it.
You've read the synopsis of the book. The story weaves back and forth, somewhat convoluted. Read more
Published on Jan. 13 2002 by ""
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good until the end
I liked this book very much; was intrigued by the plot and the switching back and forth between present day and WWII England. Read more
Published on July 17 2000
3.0 out of 5 stars Kissed A Sad Goodbye is complex jealousy.
One of the aspects of reading a Deborah Crombie novel is the many layers of past & present into which she draws you. Read more
Published on May 19 2000 by Rebecca Brown
4.0 out of 5 stars Just finished it, another winner in this series
I've read all the books in this very enjoyable series, and this one's definitely the best so far. I'd recommend to anyone interested to read the books in chronological order. Read more
Published on Oct. 15 1999
4.0 out of 5 stars Terrific, as usual!
Deborah Crombie has done it again. It's amazing that this Texan writes such "English" mystery novels. Read more
Published on Sept. 6 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read
Okay, should you read this one and then go back and read the others?
This is newest in a line of very good books. Read more
Published on July 18 1999
4.0 out of 5 stars Crombie's best yet
The question before you: start with Crombie's first book or start with the best one? The lives of the chief characters are more interesting if read in order, but I found this... Read more
Published on June 19 1999 by Crystal Graham
3.0 out of 5 stars Crombie has talent, but she breaks no new ground.
"Kissed a Sad Goodbye" is a workmanlike police procedural. The strengths of the books are its dialogue, which is realistic, and the flashbacks to World War II, which are... Read more
Published on June 13 1999 by E. Bukowsky
5.0 out of 5 stars one of the best British mysteries I have ever read.
Having read all of Ms. Crombie's other mysteries, and being a devoted fan of the British mystery genre, I can truly say this is one of the finest novels I have ever read. Read more
Published on June 5 1999 by reader from newton, ma
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